Timothy Belin, Campus Carrier asst. sports editor
Berry’s football team bounced back from its first defeat with a win against Rhodes College on Saturday. With a week off before its final two games of the regular season, the team will now look to use that renewed momentum to finish strong.
Berry’s first loss of the season came against Birmingham- Southern College on Oct. 19, but the Vikings got back to winning ways against Rhodes , and head coach Tony Kunczewski said it was important to set things right before heading into their bye week.
“That was really important to bounce back,” Kunczewski said. “This past Saturday couldn’t get here soon enough. I wish we would have played a half hour after the game was over in Birmingham, but unfortunately you have to wait a whole week to be able to play again. I know our guys were chomping at the bit to get back out there and get some form of redemption this past Saturday, so it was good to get that, and now we’re in a great position to be able to get some rest, to be able to work on some things and come back strong the last two games of the year and see what happens after that.”
More than just the result, the performance showed that the team had learned from its mistakes, which is crucial in dealing with adversity according to Kunczewski.
“If you end up losing, the real loss is when you don’t learn from that setback,” Kunczewski said. “And I believe we did, and hopefully it will make us stronger down the stretch.”
Junior cornerback Mark Sommerville said that the team failed to play at its usual intensity against Birmingham-Southern, but that wake-up call came at the right time for the players.
“The Birmingham-Southern loss was eye-opening for us,” Sommerville said. “I think it happened at a good time and I think we’re hitting our stride right now, going into our bye week. We get a little rest this week and that will be good for us.”
Sommerville said the result against Rhodes helped the team get its confidence and swagger back, and Kunczewski said the team will now take advantage of its week off to get physically and mentally healthy. Kunczewski said he does not believe the team has reached its full potential, and the bye week will be an opportunity to work on some things and come back strong for two difficult final games.
“We don’t have an easy finish to our regular season, but if we can find a way to fulfill our potential, then we can do that and find a way to come up with some wins and see what happens,” Kunczewski said.
Kunczewski and Sommerville both said the team had yet to play an entire game at the level it is capable of, but Sommerville said he had high hopes for the end of the season.
“I expect us to play a complete game, offense and defense playing as one,” Sommerville said. “Our defense builds off our offensive momentum, and once we have that one complete game where we can put it together and put a full game together, I think we’ll be unbeatable.”
The Vikings will return from their bye week with a trip to Centre College on Nov. 9. They will then host Austin College for their final regular season game at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Valhalla Stadium