SCHENECTADY — The Union College football team is treating its 2021 season like the artist turning the paper over on the easel. It was a pretty good effort, but overall it wasn’t his best work, and it’s time to start fresh.
The Dutch won their first eight games before losing their last two to Liberty League foes Ithaca and RPI and wiping out their chances of an NCAA Tournament.
What will be drawn to paper for the 2022 season begins on Saturday with a midday road contest in Allegheny.
“Last year was 2021, this year it’s 2022,” said Union coach Jeff Behrman. “It’s a whole new team, there are new people in this team, graduate guys. We don’t really talk about it, it’s more your offseason work and stuff like that, your focus. But it’s a whole new team; they have developed their own chemistry and their own identity.
Behrman said identity comes in the form of a team that plays fast, physically and consistently. Behrman said he saw all three things in his scrum against Hartwick last weekend.
“I think overall the guys played with a lot of energy,” he said. “The guys knew what they were doing. They played with confidence and they trusted each other. It was all very positive as well.
Union has five players who have decided to return for a fifth season with running backs Ike Irabor and Joe Ferreira, safety Austin St. Pierre, offensive lineman Tim Driscoll and receiver Andre Ross Jr.
“We are delighted that they have taken their extra year here. They’ve been great leaders and they’ll be very important as we start the season this weekend,” Behrman said.
Driscoll is the anchor of the offensive line and was recently named a D3football.com preseason All-American. He was a key part of the line that allowed just six sacks last season, while allowing the Dutch to rush for over 175 yards per game and rack up for over 355 total yards per game. He allowed just one sack in his two years as a starter.
Last year, Driscoll was named to the All-ECAC Second Team, D3football.com All-Region Second Team and All-Liberty League First Team.
Other starters on the returning offensive line are Stan Koss IV and Kevin Dewing.
Union’s running game should be in good shape with Irabor and Ferreira, along with others putting in a positive performance in pre-season. Irabor rushed 198 times for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games last season, earning him third-team D3football.com All-Region honors, as well as second-team All-ECAC and first-team All -Liberty League. Ferreira only played one game last season before picking up the injury but showed some talent in his second season of 2019 when he played in all 12 games.
Ross leads a receiving body that should be exciting. He earned second-team All-ECAC honors last season after catching 41 passes for 671 yards and nine touchdowns. His first touchdown this season will set him the school record, as he is currently tied for first with 34 for his career.
The starting quarterback battle pits two Section II seniors Stratton Sherman of Schuylerville against Donovan Pacatte of Cobleskill-Richmondville. On Wednesday, Behrman did not say who would get the green light.
Defensively, three of last year’s four secondary starters return with cornerbacks Azaria Lewis and Diavon Clements, as well as St. Pierre.
Union was picked fourth in the Liberty League preseason poll, while Allegheny was picked eighth in the Athletics Presidents’ Conference, but, predictably, Behrman didn’t put no point on the pre-season forecast.
Above all, Behrman wants the Dutch to play fast and have fun on Saturday.
“We play football, we don’t work football,” Behrman said. “We want them to go out and have fun, and play with a lot of passion and trust in each other. This allows you to play fast. »
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