Following a loss to Tufts (3-1) last weekend, the football team (0-4) is hopeful for a win on Saturday in the emotionally-charged homecoming game against Hamilton (0-4), after increasing the depth of the team and focusing on consistency.
The football team has experienced injuries of crucial players, but the team does not view this setback as an excuse for its record. According to Head Coach J.B. Wells, the injuries serve as an opportunity for the younger players on the team to play more.
“Anytime we have [had] something unfortunate happen with a player … we’ve had another player step into that role and perform well,” Wells said. “That’s showing that maybe we potentially have depth, that we’re building some depth, and that is going to pay off in the long run.”
In addition to the new depth of the team, captain Ryan Sanborn ’18 believes that the players respond well to the energy that alumni and students bring during the weekend. Even during preparations, the team has already felt the emotions of the homecoming game.
“It’s important that they see that we’re working hard and were doing everything that we can,” Sanborn said. “We have Bowdoin on our chest. We want to make sure that we’re representing the team and the program well.”
With the players’ emotions already high, Wells is taking a more methodical approach in preparing the team for the Hamilton game, one that will force the players to focus on technique rather than the intense emotions associated with the homecoming game. This is especially important since many key players in the game will be less experienced.
“In a methodical way, we’re going to be ready for all this because once the game happens, the emotions are going to come,” Wells said. “Don’t lose your minds and lose all your techniques and all these things that we’ve worked on. Play emotionally, but play emotionally in the scheme of the techniques we’re using.”
For many of the upperclass students, the emotions of the game are heightened due to last season’s one-point loss to Hamilton. Hamilton scored a touchdown in the final 34 seconds of the game, making the final score 26-25. Before the 2016 season, Bowdoin had not lost to Hamilton since 2012. The Polar Bears are looking forward to avenging this defeat.
“Each year it’s always a good game between us and Hamilton. Last year they beat us at the end of the game,” Sanborn said. “So that one stung, and we want to make sure we come out this time and put it all together and get a win because we need some revenge from last year.”
The team is also focused on consistency and minor details. Both the captains and Wells say the team is able to play a strong first half but needs to learn to carry the level of play into the second.
Sanborn says that the failure to play a strong second half, despite playing excellent football in the first, was particularly evident in the game against Amherst (3-1) on September 30, which ended in a 31-14 loss.
“Especially in the game against Amherst, we were in the game, we were competing, and we came out of halftime, and we let two quick scores and that kind of let it get away from us,” Sanborn said.
The homecoming game against Hamilton will start at 12 p.m. on Saturday at Whittier Field.