By Matt Noonan
Before Chris Robertson was named the head coach of WPI’s football team, he assisted long-time head coach Ed Zaloom as the squad’s defensive coordinator.
Under Zaloom, Robertson and WPI were competitive, but struggled mightily against RPI during the annual Transit Trophy game.
The Engineers of Troy, New York defeated the Engineers of Worcester 15 consecutive times, however, the streak came to a halt during the 2010 season – Robertson’s initial year as the program’s head coach.
“As an assistant, I would watch Ed lose 11 times to RPI and those were close games, fourth quarter games and heartbreaking (setbacks),” said Robertson. “This game – I do it for him because I know how hard he worked at it.
“That first year – 2010 – was just amazing. Ed and I are still very close and that was something important for me to do to payback the hard work he put in (to the WPI football program).”
Under Robertson, WPI has defeated RPI three times in the past five years, but lost to the Engineers last season by a score of 27-6. RPI leads the all-time series since the coveted Transit Trophy was introduced in October 1979, winning 23 of 35 meetings.
“(This game) means a lot and any time you go out recruiting (prospective players) ask ‘who won the game last year?’ We want to be dominating in (the WPI-RPI) series,” said Robertson, “so that when everybody talks about studying engineering they can think say, ‘do I look at RPI or WPI?’ ”
Saturday’s contest marks the start of Liberty League play for WPI, which matched a program record with three straight wins to start its season – the last time the Engineers began their campaign with three consecutive victories was in 2009.
“We talked about 3-0 to the team once,” said Robertson. “Once we watched the film, (the team realized) there was room for improvement. They’re bright kids and they want to get better and they have seen good times and they have seen bad times, but we’re just focused on getting off to a good start in the Liberty League.”
A win for WPI would conclude the month with four consecutive victories, along with momentum going into a pair of road contests against Hobart (receiving votes) and St. Lawrence.
Said Robertson, “I don’t think we have played our best football yet, but it is nice when you can win some football games despite not great football. I am very proud of the guys so far.”