Football team opens inaugural season in the Midwest Conference

Strong+Safety+Jole+Miller15+takes+down+a+Carleton+receiver+during+the+Scots+17-14+victory+at+Macalester+stadium+on+September+6th.+Photo+courtesy+of+Jody+Russell+Photography.

Strong Safety Jole Miller’15 takes down a Carleton receiver during the Scots 17-14 victory at Macalester stadium on September 6th. Photo courtesy of Jody Russell Photography.

Strong Safety Jole Miller'15 takes down a Carleton receiver during the Scots 17-14 victory at Macalester stadium on September 6th. Photo courtesy of Jody Russell Photography.
Strong Safety Jole Miller’15 takes down a Carleton receiver during the Scots 17-14 victory at Macalester stadium on September 6th. Photo courtesy of Jody Russell Photography.

The shouts of fans dressed in blue and orange could be heard across campus from the Macalester Stadium on Sept. 6 as the Macalester football team battled the Carleton Knights in a breathtaking 17-14 win. The game was a fitting way to set the tone for a new season of football for the Scots. With new players and a new conference, the team is eager to see what the season has in store for them.

The biggest change this year is joining the Midwest Conference (MWC). After playing independently for over 10 years, the athletes are eager to be part of something bigger. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge…but the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity and I think that’s how the young men in our program see it,” said Head Coach Tony Jennison.

The players agree. “It changes our outlook on a week to week basis. There’s really no room for losing because if you lose once, you’re essentially out of the conference championship. In the past, while each game was kind of meaningless, this year every game has an implication,” Samson Bialostok ’15 said.

Although becoming part of the MWC means a host of new opponents for the Scots, they are more excited than worried. “Playing completely new teams is a little uneasy, a little scary…but that’s new and exciting as well because we can build new rivalries and do more in the future,” Ben Hillmann ’15 said.

For the first time since 1997, the MWC will be split into a North and South Division. As part of the North Division, Macalester will compete with Beloit College, Carroll University, Lawrence University, Ripon College, and St. Norbert College. The South Division includes Cornell College, Grinnell College, Illinois College, Knox College, Lake Forest College and Monmouth College. The only team Macalester has faced in recent years is Grinnell College, whom they will face in their first conference game of the season on Sept. 27. “Playing for a conference championship and a chance to go to the playoffs is a whole new edge too,” Jole Miller ’15 said.

Macalester Football’s new affiliation with the MWC was also a factor in some first years’ decisions to attend Macalester and go out for the team. “This new class that came in especially chose us because we’re going into this new conference, so that just speaks to their dedication level. They wanted a school with a conference so that they could contribute and help us win accolades,” Bialostok said.

The first years add more than just their dedication to the team. “They’re so much better than we [the seniors now] were back then, so I’m excited to see them develop and be able to fill the roles later on in their careers. There are some who are already starting to play and they’re really good and there’s a lot of size and a lot of talent,” Hillmann said.

In addition to first year numbers and talent, the football team has exceptional senior leadership this year. “We’ve got 16 seniors on our team this year, which is the highest number of seniors we know of…so we’re a bit more of an experienced team than maybe we have been in other years,” Jennison said.

The football team creates an atmosphere ideal for both hard work and tons of fun. “You hear that word [family] thrown around a lot, but I truly feel that this team is like a brotherhood. If anybody on the team is in trouble, somebody’s got their back at all times,” Miller said.

“We’re a bunch of goofballs…a bunch of unique people who happen to mesh and glue because we respect each other’s uniqueness,” Bialostok said.

Team members have high aspirations for this year. “We want to win as many games as we can. We were seeded third in the North Division [coaches poll] so hopefully we will do better than that and make our mark in the conference. Also, on an individual level, we can now get all-conference honors,” Hillmann said.

Jennison has a different way of looking at the season. “I’m more about what can we do today to get better, so I just want to see consistency in approaching things the right way…so that they’re in a position to win games throughout the course of the season,” he said.

Seniors to watch this year include Bialostok, the quarterback, and Miller, starting free safety. “I think Jole Miller is a tremendous leader on our defense from his safety position and has a real strong playmaking ability,” Jennison said. “We really believe that if we’re going to be successful this year, John Stephens (’15), Djoser Ramsey (’15) and Spencer Weckwerth (’15) are going to have to lead our offensive attack, so they’re extremely important, but most people don’t see that because they’re on the offensive line.”

Some first years have already made their college football debuts, including Sam Bordo ’18, who scored a touchdown in the Carleton game. “No first years are in a major starting role, but a good number are making contributions and hopefully their contributions will continue to grow as they learn our schemes and learn how to play Macalester football the way we play football,” Jennison said.

After little more than a month together, the Macalester football team has played two non-conference games, beating Carleton to take home the Book of Knowledge, and losing the Paint Bucket to Hamline 13-23. “I thought we played well in both games. In both games we just had some mistakes and in Carleton we were able to overcome those and in Hamline we obviously weren’t, but we’ll learn from how we played in those two games and in two weeks we’ll be ready to go again,” said punter Matt Glasenapp ‘18.