Pioneers optimistic about final games

Photo via Lewis & Clark College Athletics

On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Lewis & Clark football team nearly pulled off their first win of the season against the Puget Sound Loggers. With an 11-point lead in the second quarter, the Pios were headed to victory until the Loggers had a 30-point streak by the end of the second quarter going into the third.

Although the team did not win over the weekend, Head Coach Jay Locey is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“We played a strong overall game against UPS,” Locey said.

CJ Appleton ’17 was coming off of a four-game hiatus because of an injury. “It’s hard to see your team struggle when you feel like you’re a big part of the offense moving the ball, so it’s good to be back,” Appleton said.

Even after pulling his hamstring twice in September after the first game of the year, Appleton proved himself to be an integral part of the LC team in a comeback on Saturday. He caught a 13-yard touchdown early on and then a 17-yard touchdown to bring the score to 21-33 in the fourth quarter.

“They were having a hard time guarding the seams because they were playing a single high safety and we were double teaming them,” Appleton said. “Nico did a good job of looking him off to the other side so he didn’t know that he was going to throw it my way.”

According to Appleton, the team has issues, but they are diagnosable and getting better.

“A lot of our shortcomings as a team have nothing to do with the other team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’ve got a lot of 18, 19 year old guys and with that comes inconsistency.”

But to Appleton, this weekend was a sign that the team is starting to solve their problems.

“What we were able to do last game, which was positive, was to to put positive play after positive play together. And so, more than anything, it’s just the belief,” he said. “We were able to feed off of each other often…. For us to be able to come back and almost pull even… it’s just progress.”

As for the homecoming game, the consensus is generally positive.

“Our focus now is on Willamette, who [sic] is a physical team,” said Locey. “We are a young team that is growing every day.”

Beyond the homecoming game, the future is looking good for Appleton’s last year with the LC football team.

“I think this last game was an improvement, but we’re gonna get a win,” said Appleton. “So it’s all good.”

“[the second touchdown] was on a similar route. It was 17 yards and they were having a hard time guarding the seams because they were playing a single high safety and we were double teaming them. We were sending two guys straight up the middle and he had to choose. And so Nico did a good job of looking him off to the other side so he didn’t know that he was going to throw it my way. So he looked to the left, popped to the right and just threw it to me.”

Injury

“I played in the first game and then I pulled my hamstring the day before the second game and then I pulled it again a week later. So I’ve been out for… I missed four games in a row, which kinda sucks cause it’s my senior year.

“It’s hard to see your team struggle when you feel like you’re a big part of the offense moving the ball, so it’s good to be back.

“A lot of our shortcomings as a team have nothing to do with the other team. We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’ve got a lot of 18, 19 year old guys and with that comes inconsistency. And so, if you come to our games, we’ll have a good play, then we’ll have a bad play. Then we’ll have one good play, then we’ll have two bad plays. And that’s kind of been our identity for the last year and a half. And what we were able to do last game, which was positive, was to to put positive play after positive play together. And so, more than anything, it’s just the belief. We were able to feed off of each other often…. For us to be able to come back and almost pull even… it’s just progress. I think Homecoming Game is gonna be awesome. I think the future for this team is … moving in an upward direction. It’s kinda hard to know that if you’re not inside the program, but we have really good leadership and we have a really good core of young guys. In our Sophomore class we have guys who are stepping into their leadership roles. They’re 19 year old kids and they’re starting to take a hold of their own destiny and sort of try to lead the team at 19. And that’s huge, because next year they’ll be juniors, and the year after that they’ll be seniors. And so now you’ll have a senior class, a junior class, a sophomore class all under the same system. We’re playing against teams that have seniors in the same system, under the same regime, in the same stuff, and we’ve got new guys. Our coaching staff has only been here for two years and we’ve only got 42 guys on our team, because of so many guys being injured, and we only have two seniors. So there’s a lot of things. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s looking pretty good. It’s a lot better in reality than sometimes the scoreboard shows, and we know that, so the best part is we get to prove it. So I think this last game was an improvement, but we’re gonna get a win. So it’s all good.

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