Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Knights’ football recap

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Intensity was high on both sides of the field in Laird Stadium Saturday, even if the scoreboard told a less balanced tale. The Knights fell 63-14 to Gustavus Adolphus, rendering them one and four. Coming off of a strong preseason and victorious first game against Macalester, Carleton lost a close game to Knox College 24-20 and faced tough competition in their ensuing three games, losing to Augsburg 54-28, Bethel 58-21, and Gustavus. At 58 players, Carleton is the smallest team in the conference, which poses a significant challenge every year. Starting quarterback Zach Creighton and wide receiver Chris Madden have been playing both offense and defense, an unusual occurrence in college football. On the other hand, the class of 2019 contributed more than the usual share of freshmen, so this year may be the start of an upward trend in numbers. With 28 freshmen recruits and only about 12 players lost from last season, the team is growing and improving as the freshmen gain experience playing football at the college level. Although several linebackers graduated last year, a number of freshmen have stepped up to play the position; many freshmen have had starting opportunities in games this fall including three out of four total defensive backs.

Along with the new freshmen, Carleton has gained a new defensive line coach as well as a new defensive backs coach. The latter, Jerome Smith, has five years of coaching experience and is looking forward to helping build the team’s foundation during the remainder of the season and in future years. He sees this happening by continuing to recruit skilled high school players to grow the roster year by year, acknowledging that it is a process that will take some time but that Carleton has the ability to catch up in size to the rest of the conference. Smith feels good about the second half of the season, saying the players have been coming to practice with high energy and working hard while staying open to position adjustments and stepping up to leadership roles. He enjoys seeing the personal development of student athletes on the field and in the classroom from freshman to senior year, maintaining that the most important thing for the team moving forward is to work on the obvious: playing better football. That starts with playing solid team defense.

Sophomore wide receiver Dane Birkeland says the team’s offense has improved since last year and players have a lot of trust in each other. The reason he loves football so much is “the guys. If you don’t like the people you’re playing with, football sucks.” The effort and responsibility brought to the table by every teammate will allow the team to keep improving in both cohesion and skill in the ultimate goal of winning more games. Birkeland asserts that players are undeterred by their recent losses: “the team mentality is not that they’re not good enough to win, but that they haven’t put it all together yet.” With homecoming and family weekend this Saturday, coaches and players are looking forward to a great crowd and a lot of energy in Laird Stadium when they play Concordia. The following Saturday, October 17th, presents another opportunity against Carleton’s longstanding rival St. Olaf to whom the Knights lost last year at homecoming 17-14 in the agonizing final minutes. St. John’s at home on October 24th and St. Thomas on November seventh will test the Knights again, followed by a potential victory over Hamline at home on November 14th if things go as planned. The Knights are ready; in the words of Birkeland, “the team is way more confident than last year… I don’t think we have shown how good we can be yet.”

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