By Brandon Eckles
Do your job. The phrase that has been coined by one of the best professional football programs ever, the New England Patriots. This phrase has helped build a culture of a winning system no matter who is on the field. Doing your job is simply put, and when in times of adversity that is all you can do. To be successful as a team, the team must worry about the things they can control internally.
Most recently, this ideology has stuck with the Springfield College Football team. As they have had to fight through the injuries of key players on each side of the ball, including juniors Jordan Wilcox and Jake Eglintine.
With injuries to such important players, most programs could have a sense of panic and no direction. With first-year head coach Mike Cerasuolo at the helm, the Pride have not flinched as they move on through their season.
“From day one, we talk to the kids about the expectations of the program,” said Cerasuolo. “No matter what happens through the course of the year, it’s a culture we’re trying to build here.”
Establishing a culture of a football team is getting an entire program of athletes of all capabilities to trust to a collective mindset. For success to occur, a team must not look at accomplishments, but to continue to build and improve on achieving their goals.
Cerasuolo and his players believe in everyone having a positive role on the team. Whether it be the starting quarterback to the backup defensive end; each player contributes to the team’s success. That is why the cliché of “next man up” is not the obvious focal point of Springfield football, during the beginning of their 2016-17 campaign.
“It’s about who is out there. Our goals and expectations don’t change,” preached Cerasuolo.
So far this season, Springfield has seen its starting quarterback and running back in Eglentine and Wilcox go down with injuries. This harps on the Patriots’ mantra of “do your job.” Even though these key performers have been out, players have stepped up and filled the roles.
Steven Comee, a backup wide receiver, was called upon to play quarterback against a nationally ranked opponent in St. John Fisher. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but perfection cannot be assumed when a team is in a position like this. Even though Springfield lost by two touchdowns, the toughness and perseverance was there.
For Coach Cerasuolo, that’s all he can ask from his guys.
“It all falls back on our mindset. Nothing is going to break our team. It doesn’t matter; we are lining up,” Cerasuolo referred to his team and how they’ve responded to injuries.
Controlling the past is impossible. Cerasuolo has instilled a Belichick-esque philosophy of the famous press conference “On-to-Cincinnati.” As a first year head coach, Cerasuolo is hangs his hat on growth of the program.
“We don’t talk about injuries. All we can do is continue to build, grow, and live in the moment. What matters is the next game on the schedule,” reckoned Cerasuolo in regards to the depleted roster and 1-2 start.
For how early it is in the season, the team has seen lows and highs. They had to replace the starting quarterback temporarily and lost close games, but also have seen a sophomore fullback, in Josh Thomas emerge has a powerful fullback in a 32-0 blowout victory last Saturday vs. Mt Ida. For all the forced adjustments, they have not faltered. The team has persevered through the culture of the program and stuck together.
Cerasuolo believes that this program is special and will continue to grow throughout the season as long as they embody the culture. As for now, it is on to the next game on the schedule as Springfield takes on WPI on Stagg Field at 1pm.
Brandon Eckles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org