Rosemary Chesney, asst. sports editor
Almost 60 years before Berry’s football team began, Mountain Day featured an annual football game. Between the 1940s and 70s, two rival literary clubs clashed against each other in an annual game on Mountain Day. Now, football is being reestablished as a Mountain Day tradition with the fourth-ever home Mountain Day football game set for Oct. 2.
The Georgians and Syrrebs, two of Berry’s past literary societies, battled in an annual football game every Mountain Day in the 1940s. They played this game in the Clara Bowl, with the Georgians winning the majority of the games. These games lasted until the mid 1970s when Berry’s intramural sports and student life organizations began to develop.
Over 40 years after the Georgian and Syrrebs’ final football game, Berry formed its own official football team in 2013. Chief of Staff, Debbie Heida, said a few years after the team formed, alumni began sending emails requesting a football game to take place on Mountain Day. Berry has since had a home football game on Mountain Day in 2014, 2015, 2018 and this year. Heida said Berry hopes to continue with a home game every year.
“Many people think of football when they think ‘exciting’ and ‘high energy,’” Heida said. “If alumni are coming back [for Mountain Day], then they want to see a game. I think it was just an oversight not to have one before.”
Berry’s football team went 0-9 in 2013 with an entirely freshman team. The next year in 2014, they won two out of their 10 games, winning their first game ever on a home Mountain Day game. In 2015, the team was a game away from winning a conference championship and lost the last two games.
Since 2016, they have won five consecutive conference championships and made it to the NCAA playoffs the last three consecutive years. Their conference record in the past five years is 43-5 according to Head Coach Tony Kunczewski.
As with all college sports, Berry’s football team played a strange season in 2020 due to COVID-19. The team played in the spring rather than the fall, therefore not playing on Mountain Day. With the last home football game on Mountain Day in 2018, this year’s seniors are the only current players to have ever played a home game on Mountain Day.
“In any sport, fans have a huge role on how the team plays,” senior tightend Garrett Kinsey said. “The Mountain Day home game is my favorite game because of the support from the alumni community, having everyone at the game is pretty unheard of. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the advantage.”
The 2021-2022 football season started off strong with Berry winning their first two non-conference games. The team lost to the number two team in the country, Wisconsin Whitewater, on Sept. 18. The Mountain Day game is set to be the first conference game of the season with Berry facing off against Trinity University.
“I’m excited for the full stadium this Saturday,” Kinsey said. “I think we figured out who we were and our capability of playing at a high-level last game. We’re going to come out with fire this week and take it one game at a time.”
According to Kunczewski, the team anticipates winning the conference championship for the sixth time in a row this year. They also hope to make it far through the national playoffs and have a chance at the national championship title.