By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
It was an ideal ending to a mid-week practice for the MIT football team: a long touchdown pass down the far seam that ignited a celebration that would continue following a few words from second-year coach Brian Bubna.
Players departed the field with smiles on their faces – there were even sounds of laughter and high-fives, too.
MIT appeared ready and eager to translate their hard work from this particular preseason practice to a game, which they will have the opportunity to do this Saturday, September 7th when the Engineers welcome Carnegie Mellon to the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus for a 12 p.m. kick-off.
The Engineers enter the 2019 season as a team to watch in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) after capturing their first-ever league title one year ago but do have some holes to fill from last year’s senior class. But that doesn’t seem to faze this year’s seniors, especially the squad’s four captains, who credit both last year and prior senior classes for teaching them what they must do to help both their classmates and underclassmen continue the program’s previous success.
“It starts with leading by example while also making sure that every one that is younger than us knows what it takes to compete at an elite level and they can follow the lead,” said linebacker Sam Cantrell, who is one of 18 seniors on this year’s MIT football team.
Cantrell says both the offense and defense have competed at an “elite level” throughout the preseason, but have also exhibited a great deal of energy, too, which should translate into some impressive plays this fall by both upperclassmen and first-year players.
“We bring it on both sides of the ball,” said Cantrell, who finished tied for second on the team last fall with 52 total tackles.
“We strive to be the best on both sides of the ball, so really competing with each other and holding each other to a higher standard is the biggest thing from last year to this year.”
Senior Ben Bennington, who plays defensive line for the Engineers, agreed with his classmate and defensive counterpart, but also added that both the freshmen and sophomore classes have stepped-up and improved since the squad’s initial practice last month.
Said Bennington, “The freshmen and sophomore classes have really stepped up. (They are) playing faster now and everyone has picked-up where they’re supposed to be or where they’re supposed to be going (from studying our plays) and everyone is flying around (out there).”
MIT’s roster features 22 first-year players and 24 sophomores – all 46 student-athletes will certainly be asked to help the team this fall as they attempt to defend their conference crown.
But no matter if its a first-year or a senior, halfback John Robertson just seems excited to compete with his teammates this fall and continue the program’s recent tradition of competing every day in practice, while “playing for each other.”
“With turnover (every year) there is kind of an identity that is up to the senior class each year, and I think this year we’re really trying to play for each other,” said Robertson.
“We’re trying to play in-between the whistles, go after these guys – (our defense, to be exact) – right here, and then tap each other each play.”
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