Landry Long | The Echo
As the 2016-17 school year begins for Taylor University, the football team is hard at work to make this season one to remember.
Coming off a 7-3 record, including a record of 6-1 to close out last year's season, head coach Ron Korfmacher's new-look Trojans entered this year's camp with little time before the season kicked off.
"We lost a lot of production . . . Not just production, but really good players, great leaders," Korfmacher said. "We had this long offseason in football. That's one of the key things-probably a longer offseason than any other sport relative to what you do as a team."
With only a two-week camp to prepare for the season opener, the Trojans began to evaluate how the seasoned veterans would be able to continue to produce as well as how new spots would be filled.
"When you look at guys returning, we're really seasoned up front in and in the trenches in D-line," Korfmacher said. "But also just competition occurs in the roster and who's on the field week 4 and 5 might look different than right now. Not in the pivotal trenches areas as much, but just keep preparing. We kind of have a mantra that every man prepares and everybody's got to be in a position to go execute if they're called upon."
With many moving pieces to be accounted for early in the season, the Trojans are able to rely on a constant variable in redshirt sophomore quarterback, Everett Pollard.
Pollard entered the season with the ability to depend on his experience. Throwing 29 touchdown passes for a total of 2,360 yards last season, the familiarity has offered a new-found comfort in his position.
"Having a whole season under my belt, it speaks volumes," Pollard said. "Experience is the best coach there is. I felt much more calm going into the season, like I had something different than I did last year."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans are aiming toward being more consistent as well as understanding and excelling in individual roles. Junior defensive lineman Jeremy Ramirez not only seeks to improve his play on the field, but also to bond with his teammates.
Ramirez believes that focusing on consistency and getting after it every play are both areas to improve on from the previous season. In regards to chemistry, he enjoys seeing his team become more of a brotherhood and family oriented.
"Everybody can talk to each other," said Ramirez. "There's no fronts anybody puts up or anything, everyone's just cool with each other."
The newly created bond between the Trojans and off-season work accentuated their performance on the field, defeating Davenport University this past Saturday 41-28.
Senior Richardson Giordani set the tone for the run game with 27 carries for a total of 122 yards and a touchdown. Senior Tim Barrett, freshman Spencer Crisp and Pollard also chipped in to the scoring with a touchdown a piece. Pollard's connection with senior Hans Lundberg was apparent early in the season, as Lundberg pulled in eight of Pollard's 13 completed passes for a total of 80 yards.
Defensively, the Trojans added two scores as Ramirez recovered a fumble for 32 yards and sophomore Tyler Gerig contributed a 65-yard pick six. Sophomore Matt Nguyen led the Trojans with nine tackles with junior Cameron Gray close behind with eight tackles of his own. Senior Brandon Haan led the special teams charge by averaging 43.5 yards per punt, bombing two punts over 50 yards.
Korfmacher was pleased with his team's efforts, but understands it's early in the year and there are still many improvements to be made for the new season. With back-to-back road games next on the schedule, including the first Crossroads League game against the University of Saint Francis, Korfmacher is making sure to keep things in perspective.
"Glance ahead a little, but don't look too far ahead," Korfmacher said. "One game at time. I know that sounds cliché, but we still have to get better in practice in the middle of the week and keep improving."
The Trojans will next be in action this Saturday at Malone University. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
"Photography by Fayth Glock"