Despite losing record, positives prevalent at season end

By Patrick Murphy

The Macalester football team finished their 2008 campaign with a record of 4-6, marking the second year in a row that the team missed their first .500 season in over 20 years by a single game.

The program’s preseason goal was a winning season, however, given the difficult injuries that the team had to deal with throughout, 4-6 is an impressive mark.

“I think what I’ll remember most about this team,though, is how they never stopped believing or working hard to win football games,” Head Coach Tony Jennison said. “We had some very tough injuries this year and had some things go against us at different parts of the season, yet this team always stayed consistent by working hard in practice, believing in one another, and playing our brand of tough football.”

The Scots lost their top offensive threat Jake McDonnell ’10, who scored 17 touchdowns in 2007, to a foot injury in the season opener against St. Thomas. In McDonnell’s absence, T. Joe Loiselle ’12 stepped up by rushing for 983 yards and eight touchdowns.

The defense wasn’t immune to the injury bug either. The most notable injury was suffered by Brian Foster ’11, who missed four games early in the season after breaking both of his hands.

“It was really tough, especially in the games that got away from us,” Foster said of his time on the sideline. “I felt like I could have contributed. You just have to realize that stuff happens and that’s why it’s a team sport.”

The Scots fought to go 2-2 in Foster’s absence, and Coach Jennison said he gives, “all the credit to the leadership on our team.”

When asked who led on defense, Foster credited DL/LB Martin Martin de la Presa-Pothier ’09 and LB Ed Fitzpatrick ’09 as being the leaders of the defense.

“He’s a beast who played with a lot of intensity,” Foster said of de la Presa-Pothier, who played three different positions during the year.

Foster went on to describe how Fitzpatrick pumped up the defense before games. “About half way through the year Ed started to do sort of a Hawaiian chant or something during warm-ups,” Foster said. “That always got the team hyped.”

Fitzpatrick clarified by describing his pregame rituals as such: “Before the game, I lead the linebackers in warm-ups while doing so, I shouted the name of every backer one at a time, asking them for their ‘cry,'” he said. “I sometimes did the ‘haka,’ which is a Maori war dance (not Hawaiian) that is exhilarating. After individual group warm-ups, the team circles around two or three seniors. One of the seniors leads the team in a brief shouting chant, after which we all knocked each other around, shouting and cussing, and broke it down.”

Although the contributions of de la Presa-Pothier and Fitzpatrick, as as well as other seniors will be missed next year, there is an unmistakable optimism about this team going into next season. An additional year of experience for the remaining starters, the return of McDonnell, and a good recruiting class could likely be the formula for a winning season.

As for the future, Fitzpatrick said that he foresees, “several winning seasons and a return to the MIAC … and free Mac Football merchandise for football alumni.”

Foster emphasized that he did not want to speculate, but said that, “If we can stay healthy and guys stay hungry, next year could be a special year. It’ll be fun to watch what a healthy Jake does in a full season.”

Foster also expressed excitement towards watching the progress of some younger defenders next season.

When asked who he thought some players to watch next year would be, Foster responded that he thought, “DL Will Dhonau ’12 is gonna’ be tough to deal with next year, especially if he gets in the weight room this off-season. He already plays with a swagger, so I think it’ll be fun to watch him play. It’ll also be interesting to see how LB Will Price ’12 will play with a healthy knee.”

Foster described his off-season plans as being lifting intensive.

“Weights, weights, weights,” Foster said. “Coach Murray has a workout program for us, and with the Leonard Center there’s no reason not to get jacked.”

The Scots know that there is plenty of work to be done in order to get the results they want. However, with a productive off-season, a good recruiting class, and the right attitude, this is a team that is destined to have a winning season in the near future.