In the Locker Room with Blake Buckhannon and Lucas Poggiali

Football+players+Blake+Buckhannon+and+Lucas+Poggiali

Rachel Dan

Football players Blake Buckhannon and Lucas Poggiali

Tyler Sloan, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with junior football players and roommates Blake Buckhannon and Lucas Poggiali to discuss their exciting win over Kenyon College, their first game at the Austin E. Knowlton Athletic Complex and the new atmosphere the team has been embracing this fall.

How has the season been going so far?

Blake Buckhannon: The season has been going pretty well, especially after last weekend; we had a huge conference win over Kenyon. That was great because over the last two years that’s a team we should have beaten. It was great to go to their homecoming and get a win on their turf and pretty much pay them back after the last two years.

Lucas Poggiali: Absolutely. I thought that our team did a very good job this week. The offensive line played great for us, and we are looking forward to next week already. We need to build off what we did this week and take it to [The College of] Wooster.

How has the transition of Coach Jay Anderson into the head coach position been for the team?

BB: It’s been absolutely great so far. Jay has our back no matter what and he’s definitely been bringing a new attitude to the team that I think has been much needed. We are definitely behind him 110 percent and we are building off of what he does.

LP: It’s been good, too, because he was a part of our program last year, so a lot of the guys on the team already know what he’s about and the style he coaches with. Like Blake said, it’s a whole different atmosphere around the football program and everyone has bought into it, and it’s starting to translate on the field.

The team has 22 first-years this season. How do you feel they have transitioned into playing at the collegiate level?

BB: Very well so far. A lot of them have to play right now because we have lacked depth in the past and we’ve needed them to step up. So far they have done a very good job and they’re definitely getting better every day, as well as our upperclassmen. We are definitely taking strides in the right direction.

What has been the toughest part of the season so far?

BB: Camp is always tough. Every single year, camp is a struggle; it’s a grind. We haven’t really gotten into the grind of the actual season yet, being only two games in. There haven’t been any real rigors yet, we haven’t had to overcome any injuries or anything like that. Definitely up to now the hardest part was camp.

What are your team goals for this season?

BB: I think another goal is to change the whole culture on the football program and integrate it into the campus. We want to bring people outside of North Campus who wouldn’t normally pay attention to the football program or care about it and have them buy into it.

We have something to prove, not only to everyone else in our conference but to everyone on campus, from the Athletics department to the students.

LP: Well, Oberlin hasn’t had a winning season in about 20 years, so that’s definitely a big goal. We want to win every single game every week, and that’s how we prepare. Definitely going above 5–5 would be great, but we would like to win every game.

Are you guys excited for Homecoming weekend and your first game at the Austin E. Knowlton Athletic Complex?

LP: Absolutely. Everyone is really excited about this brand-new field, and we want to go out there and show everyone that we deserve to have this new field and all these facilities, and just make a good name for Oberlin football. We’re here to play and we’re here to contend.

BB: I think everyone is excited for the new atmosphere, too. It’s the first night game we’ve ever had in the

history of Oberlin football, so that’s exciting. And like Lucas said: the facilities. We’re excited to show that off, and the new style of Yeomen football.

What are the best and worst parts about being on the football team?

BB: I think the best part of the football season is being with your teammates all the time. They’re your brothers, they’re your family, they’re why you go out and play the game. And if I had to pick one bad part, it’s all the workload you have during the season. It’s hard to balance. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but at times it gets challenging.

LP: I definitely have to say some of the best parts are building relationships with both new and old players. You’re with these guys for hours on end every single day. Experiencing the ups and downs of a football season is something that helps bring people closer together for sure, and that’s something that I think the team really enjoys.

What would you say have been the biggest changes from last season to this season?

BB: I would just say the environment that the coaching staff has put us in. People that aren’t a part of the football team don’t really see that or don’t really understand that, but for the guys that have been on the team before they just know that comparatively it’s just a whole different atmosphere. I know I’ve said that a few times now, but it’s just a completely different atmosphere. It has changed for the better.

LP: In the past, we’ve had anywhere from 30 to just under 40 guys on the team, whereas this year, we have 50. Ten people doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. We have a lot more depth on the team this year, and it comes in handy in practice because you actually have a scout team and you can do a lot of different things. That’s been an improvement this year that has really helped us out so far this season.

What were the biggest factors that influenced you to attend Oberlin? You both are from Ohio; did that sway you in any way?

BB: Definitely the academics you really can’t compete with, definitely [with] schools in Ohio, but even schools in the Midwest and on the East Coast and some of the Ivy League schools. Also, just being close to my family. I really have a close relationship with them and I don’t want to be away from them anytime soon, so I figured I might as well be as close to them as I can.

LP: Oberlin’s education is [second to none]. They’re top-notch in Ohio for sure, and honestly I just loved the football players that I met when I first came here on my visit. I really felt like I was part of the team already from the moment I got here, so that really meant a lot to me in my decision-making.