There might not be much left at stake for Penn sprint football, but there is still plenty to play for.
After being eliminated from Collegiate Sprint Football League championship contention in last week’s double-overtime loss to Army West Point, the Quakers will look to reset and finish the season on a high note against rival Princeton this Friday.
Aside from going up against their Ivy League rival, this game holds a special significance for the Quakers (4-2), as it is the team’s Senior Night. Accordingly, much of the focus during the night will be on the seniors, who are not only playing their last home game, but also their last game for the Red and Blue.
“Their parents are going to be here, all of the fans are going to be here, we want to have a celebration,” coach Bill Wagner said.
The players also want to put their best foot forward in the seniors’ last games and the final game of the season.
“We want to go out and win, put out a good showing, especially for our fans and for our seniors because this is it for them,” said senior linebacker and defensive back Stu Helgeson.
The festivities for Senior Night include honoring all 10 seniors on the field before the game, and many of their families will be in attendance. The night is sure to be an emotional one for the seniors.
“There will probably be some tears, knowing it’s the last time you’re going to play in a collegiate game, on Franklin Field, and against our archrival Princeton,” Wagner said.
Wagner also expects a solid performance from his seniors in their last contest.
“They want to do their best game, they want to do as well as they possibly can,” Wagner said.
The Red and Blue is ready to move past last week’s tough loss — a come-from-behind effort against the top team in the nation that just missed victory after a botched field goal attempt. Now, its time to focus on the game at hand.
“Every game is a new game,” Wagner said. “Princeton is on our schedule, it’s Senior Night, our guys are ready to go.”
Helgeson agrees with Wagner’s sentiment.
“You just flush it down the toilet after a day of mourning the loss, then you just have to refocus, have a good week at practice, prepare, and just kind of forget about the loss,” Helgeson said.
Although Princeton (0-3) has not won a game this year — or for the last 16 years — the Quakers are not taking their opponent lightly or treating them any differently.
“It’s a football game,” Wagner said. “You can never underestimate your opponent, you’ve got to have respect for them, and you’ve got to play hard and clean and finish up strong.”
The same holds true for Penn’s approach to the game itself, despite the fact that the Red and Blue are no longer in championship contention. This week’s game provides the team with the opportunity to just enjoy themselves and not worry as much about the outcome of the game.
“They’re ready to have another battle, and I think you’ll see a lot of guys play and have a lot of fun and win with class,” Wagner said.
For the Quakers, an area of emphasis this week is closing out games strong, something that they failed to do last week against Army.
"[We need to] finish the game,” Helgeson said. “We didn’t do that last week, we let Army hang around too long, and we’ve got to put them away.”
Friday night’s festivities will certainly be exciting, and Penn will look to put up a strong effort for their seniors’ last hurrah.
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