Senior Day did not go exactly as hoped for the Pioneer football team. The day started off pleasantly enough with parents present, photos being taken and nostalgia in the air, but the play on the field may have left a sour taste in the mouths of the seniors in the final home game of their careers.
Grinnell fell to Lake Forest College by a final score of 10-54 as the Pioneers dropped to 1-8 on the year. However, the day was not without its bright spots. After being held without a touchdown for the entirety of the game, the Pioneers gave their home crowd something to cheer about when Sam Poulos ’16 connected with Emmi Sandoval ’16 for a 4-yard touchdown with just 12 seconds left on the clock.
“It was good to finally get that monkey off our back of not being able to score even though we had been in the redzone a couple of times,” Sandoval said of his touchdown reception.
Despite not getting the victory they desired, the seniors did put on a performance fit for Senior Day. Henry Cummings ’16 and Sandoval paced the Pioneers for receiving yards with 68 and 55, respectively. Poulos led the day for passing yards, making 24-of-41 passes for 193 yards. Seniors stood out on defense with Barrett Morrissette ’16 collecting a team-high 10 tackles.
Despite their lackluster 1-8 record, going forward, the players have full confidence in their coaches, and the coaches have full confidence in their players.
“Coach [Jeff] Pedersen [’02], coach [Jason] Martinez, being my defensive coach: full confidence in everyone. We’re really joined as a team, we’re really together. It will help us build towards a better next year,” said Ryan Slager ’19, who collected 10 tackles versus Lake Forest.
With their small roster and unfortunate record, changes are certain to come to this Pioneer team. Players and coaches are expecting a lot of recruitment during the offseason. While head coach Pedersen always strives for strong recruitment, he mentioned that this year specifically, “we have had more [potential recruits] visit at this point than we have in any of the years in the recent past. And we have got more interested [potential recruits] than in the recent past, so we’re on track.”
The football team will play their final game this Saturday at Lawrence University. The Pioneers got their lone victory of the season against Lawrence earlier this fall and therefore are optimistic about their upcoming game.
“Fully confident about this game. [Lawrence] installed a couple more, from the defensive perspective, plays and new formations, but I think we can handle it,” Slager said.
“If we can just execute to our capabilities I think we’re the better team,” Pedersen added of the upcoming game.
While the game still looms as a chance to salvage a bit of a lost season, the Grinnell seniors have now played their last home game of their collegiate careers—a fact that Sandoval finds emotionally conflicting.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. After many years of football, it sucks to put the cleats down, but at the same time your body is kind of telling that it’s wearing down on you,” he said.