Josh Cena ’16 (left) and Stein Retzlaff ’16 (right) tackle a Claremont-Mudd-Scripps receiver in the season opener, a 27-7 loss. (Photo courtesy of LC Pioneers)

Resurrecting the old Pio Pride at Griswold

Football prepares for Saturday’s Homecoming Game and the program’s future

By PETER MELLING

It’s that time of year again. The football team (0-4) is getting ready to host their annual homecoming game in their 70th season, which is against the 3-1 Pacific University Boxers. The Pioneers hope to win their first game since their homecoming on Oct. 5, 2013, a 60-30 victory over the University of Puget Sound Loggers. Can the Pios capitalize on their improvements this season, and how will the homecoming atmosphere help them succeed?

In spite of dropping their first four games, the Pios have put together some great performances throughout the season. Defensive back Deion Mock ’16 had ten tackles and running back Josh Bocker ’16 ran for 40 yards on 11 carries against Linfield, while tight end Carl Appleton ’17 leads the team in receptions (15), receiving yards (179), and receiving yards per game (59.7), with one touchdown (a 35-yard reception from quarterback Nick Fortino ’17 against Ponoma-Pitzer). Among the 35 first-year athletes, wide receiver Dejour Williams ’19 has made his mark with 14 receptions, 127 receiving yards, 42.3 receiving yards per game, and one touchdown (a 23-yard catch against Claremont- Mudd-Scripps).

In their most recent game, a 49-35 loss to the George Fox University Bruins, the Pios made an impressive comeback attempt. They scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and outscored the Bruins 28-14 in the second half. Fortino threw for 262 yards, while Williams had 81 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Pios’ defense also continued to shine, with defensive lineman Alex Fitch ’16 recovering a fumble (which led to a Pios touchdown only four plays later).

In a radio interview with 750 The Game’s “Bald-Faced Truth with John Canzano,” Head Coach Jay Locey commented on the progress of the team. He said, “I think we’re learning a little bit more about who we are, and how to grow. I think the nice thing is that we’ve grown every week.”

Through these performances, the Pios are building towards a return to form.

“The nice thing is that we’ve got kids who are smart, academically strong, and intrinsically motivated, so it’s really been a fun blend. I don’t think we’re light years behind [from contending]. I think we’re at a pretty good starting point,” Locey said.

Also, what better place to illustrate the rebirth of LC football than the homecoming game? Alongside Parent’s Weekend, the Lewis & Clark Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction and the All-Class Football Alumni Brunch, the homecoming game will play host to a great number of alumni and parents, bolstering the student crowd and possibly giving the Pios a home-field advantage. Even if they do not win, the Pios will show off the strides they are making towards contention.

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