Spirits are high among the Knox College Football roster. With a large amount of fresh talent coming into the fold, the team is confident in what the future may bring. With a collection of three wins total from the last two seasons, a 2-3 start in the first half of the season looks promising. The team still has work to do, considering neither win so far has come from within the division, but there is no shortage of optimism amongst the players.
“Our biggest winning factor is grit,” sophomore defensive back Michael Moss said. “We have played through some tough competition but always fight the entire way through. If we can stay mentally focused throughout the rest of the games this season, good things will come.”
Younger players like Moss are becoming crucial parts of the team, as the roster consists of many sophomores and freshmen. Common with many sports teams across the nation and Knox alike, a few seasons of building can result in a team that defies all expectation. Freshman running back Nick Edlund thinks this is exactly where the team is heading.
“We are on the verge of a revolution,” Edlund said. “The upperclassmen on the team are leaders and we try to build off of them as much as possible. With so many young guys coming on and off the field, we need to be fully ready. The team chemistry is fantastic and that makes a huge difference.”
The future seems bright, but the team still has their current season to win. Through the first half of the season, senior Ilir Emini has already made headlines with his catch that is rocking the sports world. Being featured on ESPN and Sportscenter is no small feat, but Emini says that the fame isn’t changing his outlook on his role within the team, understanding that each week is a blank slate.
“As a receiver, I still have to catch every ball that comes to me and do my job. We just want to go 1-0 every week and do our best. The catch was certainly great for the school and pumped up the team, but it doesn’t make my job any different. I still go out every week and do my best.”
Coach Damon Tomeo discussed how the community appreciation for the team makes playing games so much easier. “We play much better at home,” Tomeo said. “The feeling that the students and the town bring to the games is fantastic. It certainly makes a difference in our output. They talk in Seattle about the 12th man and, although it’s not quite that level here at Knox, when the Bowl is filled to the brim with purple, it’s tremendous for our guys and it gives us a huge advantage.”
As for the team’s biggest goal this season, Tomeo had this to say: “We have to go 1-0 each week. I know it’s a clich coaching phrase, but it’s true. We need to stay focused on the task at hand and make the most out of each week. Managing the players’ time between studies and athletics can be difficult, but we are going to do our best in both aspects and have a great season.”
With a high capacity of strong underclassmen players, firm coaching and a solid foundation already in place, it’s not hard to see why the spirits are so high around the area. With all teams at the college doing so well, there is a collective positivity in the air and it’s bleeding into everyone. One team feeds off every team, and there is no question that this is the case for Knox Football just in time for Homecoming. The Prairie Fire will take on Cornell College the Saturday of Homecoming, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in the Knosher Bowl.