A year after entering a new era, the Ithaca College football team looks poised to continue its successful run. This year, the team heads into the summer and preseason workouts with a new reputation and heightened expectations to build off of its successful 2017 campaign.
The team entered last season with a number of question marks hanging over its head. Would new head coach Dan Swanstrom be able to build upon the legendary career of former coach Mike Welch, who retired following the 2016 season after 23 years as head coach? Who would start as quarterback and replace Wolfgang Shafer ’17, who started for two seasons in a row? Most importantly, in the eyes of the Ithaca community, would this be the year that the Bombers finally beat SUNY Cortland after falling seven years in a row?
The answer to all of those questions would come throughout the season, and overall the sentiment was one filled with hope for the future.
Swanstrom led the team to an 8–3 record, including a 27–17 victory in the Eastern College Athletic Conference bowl game against Salisbury University. It had notable wins over Union College and Hobart College and went 4–1 in its first year in the Liberty League Conference.
Freshman Wahid Nabi emerged as the starting quarterback after the second game, and although there were some hiccups throughout the season, he cemented his place as the future of Bombers football. His passes are precise, his range is impressive and his decision-making skills are beyond his years. He threw for 2,552 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, six of which came at the Cortaca Jug, setting a new school record for the most touchdowns scored in one game.
As for the last question — well, the Bombers definitely pulled that one off. They came out with the 48–20 win and dominated the game from start to finish. It was the revenge the community was yearning for, and the stands stayed packed throughout the entire game.
Now the only questions emerging are who is going to replace the talent graduating, but that’s a problem every team needs to deal with. Spring practices have already been in session, and preseason camp will be here in just a few short months.
It’s obvious, though, that with the foundation put in place by last season, this is a team that can make a deep run this season. The anticipation and expectations are already higher than they’ve been in years, and with Nabi and Swanstrom at the helm, they should be able to fulfill these callings.