Friday, November 18, 2011

It's About the Team

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Thanks to many of the commenters here who have pointed out that all the other distractions aside, tomorrow's game on Kraft Field at Wien Stadium is about the TEAM.

It's just another added stain on this very rough season that one more insult has been lobbed on to the program and one more embarrassment for all alumni who care about Columbia and athletics.

But when it comes to showing respect for the team and the young men who sacrifice so much to play for it, the Lion coaching situation is far more serious.

If, for some reason, Head Coach Norries Wilson isn't relieved by early next week THAT will be the ultimate insult and disrespect to these players.

The mishandling of this band issue does not give me the highest level of confidence that the coaching situation will be dealt with the best way either.

But I want to dedicate the next 28 hours to the players on the team and specifically the seniors, who I have been individually profiling all week.

Speaking of that...

Senior Farewells (final installment)

Ben Popeck

A truly unsung hero of the Columbia defense. Quietly had a real impact season last year with 42 tackles, (huge for a D-lineman), and has excelled this year as well. Like classmates Evan Miller and Ross Morand, Popeck made his first noticeable impact in that fateful 2009 game against Lagfayette with a big sack. Here's hoping he gets at least one more tomorrow.

Neil Schuster

Extremely versatile athlete who has risen through the ranks to become a very key member of the Lions. Breakout game was in 2009 at Yale when he had six tackles and forced a fumble. Two weeks later he was one of several Lions who picked off Cornell passes to help deliver a thrilling 30-20 win. Another good hard hitter who has been crucial to the special teams. Expect to see him all over the field tomorrow.

Kyle Stupi

A very tough offensive lineman who keeps getting on the field despite injuries and shifts in his position. Rountinely found himself under the gun at center in the Lions' spread offense. Usually, stacked defensive lines sought to get to QB Sean Brackett through him. This young man has sacrificed everything for this program.

Kurt Williams

The Don Bosco product made a great transition from DB to WR last season and immediately became a factor in the Lions offense. My best memory of Kurt will be his acrobatic catch and dive for a TD against Princeton in the 42-14 win over the Tigers last year. Had monster 100+ yard receiving games against Harvard last year and Cornell last week. One can only wonder how much noise Kurt would have made had he been slotted as a WR a year or two earlier.


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