SCHENECTADY — After a 4-0 start to its season, the Union College football team is looking to keep rolling when it plays Liberty League foe Rochester.
“We just have to continue to focus on ourselves, and prepare each week not worrying about who the opponent is, but making sure we stay on track and execute our game plan,” Union head coach Jeff Behrman said at Thursday’s practice, a couple days ahead of the Dutchmen’s 12 p.m. Saturday game at Rochester. “The biggest thing is just staying focused.”
Union (1-0 LL, 4-0 overall) will put its perfect season on the line when it takes the field against winless Rochester (0-1, 0-5).
“Rochester is more than a capable team. They play hard. Give tremendous effort. They’re a physical team. There’s no quit in them at all,” Behrman said. “I’ve watched the entire five games they’ve played in so far, and I’m impressed with their effort, and their ability on defense to run to the ball and make some things happen.”
Union is coming off a 23-7 home victory against Hobart, and senior linebacker Evan Gilland said the Dutchmen won’t take Rochester lightly despite its 0-5 mark.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or what their record is,” said Gilland, the Liberty League’s reigning defensive player of the week. “It’s a personal thing. You get out there and practice every single day, and just like any other Saturday, we are going to get out there on that field and give it our 100%.”
A perfect season, Gilland said, is what Union is chasing.
“Last year, we were 7-2, which was a good record, but we weren’t satisfied with that,” Gilland said. “We want to go undefeated this year and get to the Stagg Bowl.”
But it’s one game at a time for Union, which has outscored its opponents 146-38 this season.
“We have to start strong and avoid coming out flat,” said Union sophomore running back Ike Irabor, the Liberty League’s reigning offensive player of the week. “We need to keep the energy that we have built so far this season and remain focused. I expect them to come out firing at us, but we are planning to give it right back.”
“We have to do our job defensively,” Behrman said. “It comes down to assignment and responsibility football, and so far this season, that’s what our defense has been able to do. We understand who they are and what they like to do schematically, but, if we focus on us, we should be just fine.”