With a UAA title and potential playoff berth on the line, the Maroons will travel to Cleveland this weekend to face off against the Case Western Reserve Spartans.
Although the UAA has been officially disbanded for football, Chicago (7–1), which is technically independent this year, is considered to have a stake in this game as it theoretically would lay claim to the full UAA title (it is currently only guaranteed a share in it) with a win over Case (3–6). Chicago has won against both of the other former UAA members this year with victories over Carnegie and Wash U, while Case has had split success with a win over Carnegie in its first game of the season and a loss to Wash U two weeks ago.
“The toughest thing will be to make it seem just like another game. There are a lot of factors in this game that can get into our heads,” said third-year wide receiver Nathan Massey. “If we stay level-headed there will be no problems...The only thing we can control is how we come out on Saturday and play.”
Staying focused brought exemplary results to the South Siders last week as they defeated Carnegie by a score of 28–7. Fourth-year defensive lineman and team captain Scott Mainquist had three and a half sacks on the afternoon, earning him a spot on the d3football.com team of the week.
“It was awesome to get an individual honor like D3 Team of the Week, but at the end of the day the individual awards are not nearly as important as achieving our team goals,” Mainquist said. “Over time you forget about the individual plays that happen during the course of a game but you remember if you win or lose and those memories are a lot better when you win.”
Mainquist, a fourth-year, is one of twelve Maroons who are faced with the possibility of this being the last game of their college careers.
Brandon Bolock, another fourth-year defensive lineman, earned honors with his performance last week as well where he recorded two sacks and scored a touchdown on a 45 yard pick six, and was named a UAA Athlete of the Week.
“It is shocking to think that my last game is potentially this Saturday,” Bolock said. “I am going to enjoy every moment of it with my teammates and hopefully conclude my journey as a Maroon football player as a conference champion.”
There is a consensus among the players that at this point, making it to the playoffs is largely out of their hands; the best they can do is “control the controllables”, which is a message the team has internalized over the past two seasons under head coach Chris Wilkerson.
This collective mindset has instilled a trust among the team that has translated into the visible success on the field.
“The team has had success this year because we have unbelievable trust in each other offensively and defensively and in our coaches,” Mainquist said. “It’s a simple philosophy but one that’s hard to execute. However that’s what we’ve done up to this point and hopefully what we will do to close out the season.”
Kickoff for tomorrow’s season finale will be at 11 a.m. at DiSanto Field in Cleveland.