Preparing for a new season

Gator football optimistic despite opening defeat

After compiling a 6-4 record last season, the team’s highest win total since 2010, Allegheny College football entered the season with the possibility for continued success. On Saturday, Sept. 7, the Gators traveled to Troy, New York, to take on No. 19Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and were defeated 52-14.

Prior to the game, new Head Coach Richard Nagy detailed his high expectations for the team this season.

“I guess I always have high expectations,” Nagy said. “My expectation is to win every game I play in or coach in. At the end of the day, though, I really try to talk to the team about three biggest things all the time: giving great effort, playing disciplined football and executing assignments. If we can do that, we can live with the results.”

In the loss to RPI, Allegheny committed five turnovers, including an interception, and had four lost fumbles. Junior quarterback Nazareth Greer, ’21, accounted for three of the five turnovers, but also scored both of the Gators’ touchdowns.

Despite the loss, the Gators remain optimistic for the season and are preparing for their home opener against Wabash College on Sept. 21. Along with the 1 p.m. kickoff at Frank B. Fuhrer Field, it is Allegheny’s Community Day, and there will be a ceremony for inductees into Allegheny’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Allegheny has surrendered 54 points per game to Wabash in defeats over the last three years, and with the addition of the defensively-minded Nagy, there is a plan in place to limit their offense. The Gators will focus their attention on their own game plan rather than attempting to counteract specific opponents.

“The focus is more on us and how we play, and not so much who we’re playing,” Nagy said. “If we can keep that focus on what we’re doing and make sure that we do what we’re coached to do, what we’re prepared to do, we got a chance to be successful. … We have to stay true to ourselves and be who we are and believe that that’s good enough.”

Nagy comes to Allegheny from Old Dominion University, a Division I school, where he served as the team’s defensive coordinator. Nagy was introduced by former Allegheny President James Mullen and Director of Athletics and Recreation Bill Ross as Allegheny’s 35th head football coach at a press conference held in February 2018.

“He’s a son of the liberal arts, he has roots in the Allegheny coaching tree, he’s committed to the student experience, he understands the centrality of academics, he believes deeply in competitive excellence on the football field,” Mullen said at the press conference.

When Nagy was asked about the players who excited him coming into the season, he proceeded to list the entire starting lineups for the offense, defense and special teams, aexpressing his confidence in the Gators’ current team.

Senior running back Tonye Hamilton, ’20, who will replace longtime starter Tyler Balla, ’19, echoed Nagy’s confidence for the 2019 season.

“My expectations are pretty high, to be honest,” Hamilton said. “I think as a team we aim to at least win the conference.”

Hamilton is part of the senior class that has been building the program from within over the last three years, and he believes that they are prepared to have a special season together. Hamilton said he is also excited about the newcomers to the team and is curious to see how the season plays out with the infusion of talent into their already successful group.

Along with his high expectations for the team, Hamilton has high standards for himself as the new starting running back.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I try to compete every chance I get on the field or off the field,” Hamilton said. “I don’t really have personal goals right now, but I know I just want to have a breakout year, just give everybody a show and show everybody what I can do.”

Attendance for Allegheny Football has been down for the last few years, but Nagy believes that this team will be able to reconnect with fans. He has encouraged his players to raise enthusiasm for the entire athletic department by attending other sporting and club events, and to be a positive influence on the community at large.

“I’m a big believer of whatever you want, you have to give,” Nagy said. “So if we want people to support us, we need to support people.”

The team’s confidence remains unshaken despite the opening loss, and they will look to rebound against Wabash on Sept. 21. Admittance to the game will be free for all fans for the Community Day celebration.