Rosemary Chesney, asst. sports editor

22 seniors played their final Berry College football game on Saturday. The season contained many challenges for the team, from losing five coaches to having a shortened pre-season. The seniors graduating in 2022 launch into the workforce utilizing the skills and experiences they learned on the football field. 

Berry’s football team ended with an overall record this season of 6-4. While this record comes as a disappointment to many, the teams that Berry lost had to a combined record of 37-3, according to Head Coach Tony Kunczewski. 

Photo Courtesy of Steven Eckoff

The team captains this season included Garrett Kinsey, Jacob Weitkamp, Connor Cheyunski, Jordan Wilson and Gavin Gray. Without these seniors, Kunczewski said, they will have to replace the void with new leadership. 

“A lot of the seniors’ impact has to do with the example that they put forth,” Kunczewski said. “These guys when they came in as freshmen and sophomores learned from guys that were strong leaders then, and hopefully our younger guys feed of their leadership when it’s their time. That’s how you perpetuate a strong program not just a good team.” 

The football team encountered various challenges this season. With last season being a four-game spring season due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team had not played a normal 10-game season since 2019. This team was mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores, with eight out of the 10 starting offensive players being underclassmen. More of the defensive team, however, contained older players, including senior outside linebacker Jacob Weitkamp. 

“Playing football at Berry has not only impacted my college experience but also my life,” Weitkamp said. “I definitely would not be the person I am today without having played at Berry for the past four years. I was taught simple things, like time management, but also how to overcome adversity and what it takes to be great.” 

According to Kunczewski, another challenge this season was the loss of five coaches. Rich Duncan, the former offensive coordinator, left to be the head coach at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Four other assistant coaches left the program as well. Senior wide receiver Marquedon Watkins said that the coaches have played a major role in his college career, and even hopes to become a coach himself one day. 

“The coaches care who you are as a young man, beyond football,” Watkins said. “They care about how you are doing physically, spiritually, mentally and are willing to help at any given time. It’s more of a sense of fatherhood on the team.” 

Photo Courtesy of Steven Eckoff

Watkins and Weitkamp both stated that community is one of their biggest advantages of their experience in the Berry football program. Watkins even described the team community as a “brotherhood” community. Offensive Coordinator Colin Duling described the mission and culture of the team to keep “climbing higher.” 

“It’s definitely a blue collar culture, and hard working group,” Duling said. “Our team has always been known to play harder than any other group. Especially after a down year, we are hungry and striving to get better every day.” 

Kunczewski said that he is especially looking forward to a normal offseason in the spring without COVID-19 restrictions. He is excited to begin recruiting, strengthening and conditioning and developing the team’s leadership for next season. According to Kunczewski, many of the seniors will be returning for a fifth season due to increased eligibility with COVID-19. Weitkamp, who hopes to coach at a college level in the future, said that he plans to return for a fifth season. 

“My hope for next season is that we learn from the mistakes this season and get better,” Weitkamp said. “I fully expect to get back on track, win a conference championship and be the best team that we can be.” 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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