Though the football team is out of the playoff race and the SUNY-Cortland Red Dragons need help from other teams to earn a postseason birth, Saturday’s game between the two teams will be a clash between rivals with a burning desire to win.
The Bombers had their streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons snapped with a loss Saturday against Alfred University. But for most of the Bombers’
seniors, who have won two of the last three Cortaca games, the regular season finale is of utmost importance.
Senior cornerback Spence White, who is second on the team in tackles with 54 and first in forced fumbles with four, said the graduating class will have an added spark out on the field because of the implications of the game.
“As seniors, this is our last game so we definitely want to win,” he said. “We’re going to have a little extra juice there.”
Sophomore quarterback Phil Neumann said giving the veterans a win in the most anticipated game of the year to end their careers is a goal for the entire team.
“It’s going to be their last game of football, and that’s a tough thing to think about — it’s weird to think about,” Neumann said. “Those guys are in that situation right now, and we definitely want to send them out with a win.”
Though the seniors will be playing in their last game as Bombers, underclassmen such as Neumann will be looking to finish the season strong in one of the most well-known rivalry games in Division III.
Senior linebacker Joe Gilfedder said the younger players’ performance in the game could carry over to next season.
“For the underclassman this is the 2012 season,” Gilfedder said. “You want to have a strong start and just get that momentum going into the offseason.”
Cortland comes into the game in third place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference with an overall record of 7–2 heading into its only out-of-conference game of the season. The team is coming off an offensive explosion in which they defeated SUNY-Brockport 64-43.
Gilfedder said the Bombers are going to need to shut down the Red Dragons’ rushing attack to combat their opponents’ offense.
“They have a very talented running back, so I think the key is to, at least defensively, stop the running game and make them one dimensional,” he said.
Regardless of the tough opponent the South Hill squad will go up against, White said, the team will not get caught up in the hype that surrounds Cortaca Weekend.
Though the team is focusing on the game and treating it as a standard week of preparation, Neumann said the Blue and Gold understand the historical significance of the Cortaca series, in which the Bombers currently lead 34–18.
“No matter what our situation is, every year this game is going to mean a lot, whether we’re in the playoff hunt or not,” he said. “It’s a longstanding tradition, and we all recognize the importance of that. We’re excited to be a part of it and make our mark on it.”