November 15, 2007

Football's Graduating Class Reflects on Careers

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For many seniors, feelings of nostalgia won’t set in until the middle of spring semester. But for Cornell’s senior athletes, those departing feelings will arrive sooner as many sports finish way before graduation in May. One of those teams will be the football squad, who will be suiting up in its final contest this Saturday at Penn.
The contest is sure to bring up a lot of emotions, serving as the last time players like senior co-captain Colin Nash will suit up for the Red.
“It has been long, hard road but it is satisfying to be done,” Nash said. “But on the other hand, it’s bitter. I love football … I love Cornell football. I do not want to leave but my time here is up.”
Nash has shown his dedication to Cornell football serving as one of the team integral players over the past two years. Last year, the Fairport, New York native earned the team’s Stone Travel “Big Play” award and this year has 22 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Maybe more importantly, Nash, just like many others has meshed well within the Cornell football family.
“Since then [my recruiting visit] I have loved it [Cornell football],” said senior wide receiver Horatio Blackman. “Especially with these guys [senior co-captain defensive back] Colin Nash, [senior safety] ChiChi Madu, I live with those guys … Initially, all of the Ivy League schools were recruiting me but when I came here, it felt like a family right away. The guys bonded with everyone … Coach Knowles [’87] got the seniors to talk to us, then we went out to dinner together. Right away, I just felt like a brother.”
Sacrificing so much time towards a common goal — an Ivy League championship in this team’s case — can do that do an individual. Unfortunately, the Red has failed to secure an Ancient Eight title during the current seniors’ tenure as Princeton, Yale and Brown have either won or split the crown in the past three years. Despite the lack of a title, the team has its share of memories. For the two aforementioned seniors, however, one contest stands out above the rest, its 38-31 overtime win over Brown.
“I would have to say that it [my favorite Cornell football memory] was the win against Brown,” Nash said. “It [the win] was such a testament to the toughness of the team. To the fact that we didn’t stop playing, we didn’t back down. We came back, scored in overtime and got the win. It is one of those things you sit back and think … wow, that’s awesome. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life.”
In the contest, the team overcame a 17-point second half deficit to earn the win at Schoellkopf Field. Sophomore Randy Barbour scored the game winning touchdown in the first overtime but equally important was Blackman’s corner-of-the-end zone 14-yard touchdown reception to tighten the gap to three, 31-28 with 9:19 left in regulation.
The reception was the Albany, New York native’s first collegiate touchdown.
“I would definitely say the overtime win over Brown, [was my most memorable Cornell Football moment]” Blackman said. “None of us at the time had beaten Brown since we came to Cornell and I scored my first collegiate touchdown, so that definitely added to it.”
And while reminiscing will provoke many memories from this senior class, there is one more game where they can create more. This Saturday, the team will battle for the Trustee Cup against Penn.
“You have to make the best out of the last game,” Nash said. “In terms of fun and in terms of execution.”
Including Nash and Blackman, the team will be graduating 15 seniors this year. Notable players from this year’s class are linebackers Ryan Blessing and Doug Lempa, running back Luke Siwula, safety Michael Boyd and kicker Peter Zell.