Small Victories: The 2014-2015 Setters Football Preview



A team’s makeup is very important, especially when it comes to instilling the idea of turning the page and becoming successful. One of the key ingredients for that make-up is trust; it is what helps turn good teams into great teams.

But for the new-look 2014 football team, success means small victories. It means building up the team and building up that trust, setting themselves up for greater things in the future.

A total of 41 players were brought in to join the team with 29 incoming freshman and 12 transfers. Bringing all those players in is not a simple task, but so far the staff has made it work.

“We didn’t have much in the area of seniors and juniors, so we felt it was extremely important to fill up that gap,” Head Coach Andrew Rondeau said. “Rarely do you see teams that are mainly rookies take radical leaps. That’s why that veteran presence is important.”

Now that the team has acquired that balance, the trick is to find a way to mesh everyone together. Team bonding is important and the Setters have been able to do that with events such as the Fan Fest that was held on Aug. 24.

Not only did the team spend the day with fans and members of local youth groups, but they also completed the ice bucket challenge, and you know what they say, a team that soaks together stay together.

“Coach Rondeau has done a great job of really having the guys put themselves out there to each other, whether it’s in a team meeting or practice, the players are really trying to get to know each other,” QB coach/Offensive coordinator Chad Walker said.

Coach Walker would later detailed how even at lunch everyone  tries to get to know each other more and the coaches can see the chemistry within the team grow every day. However, the players aren’t trying too hard to blend together; to them it’s just normal.

“I think the best way is to just compete,” junior and defensive lineman Tyler Owens said. “When [players] compete with guys, you build a bond with them; this preseason we’ve just been competing with everything we do.”

Through the results of the past seasons, a heavy stench of “0 wins” in the last three years can still be felt, but Rondeau and the staff have already started to change things.

“Coach Rondeau has implemented a philosophy here where what we’re working on right now is just getting better and celebrating small victories,” Defensive coordinator/LB coach Corey Hetherman said. “Our goal every single day is not worrying about anything else outside of what we can control and all we want to do is focus on what we can control and get better at those things.”

In order to accomplish this, Rondeau looks to confidence and humility, two qualities he believes are necessary in order to foster this culture. Both qualities help players strike a balance, allowing them to be assured of themselves while also leaving room recognizing when improvement is needed.

“As a coach you need to know how much ownership you can give your players,” said Coach Rondeau, who also believes it’s important for players to be selfless. “You don’t want them to be cocky, but you don’t want them to not have confidence. It’s finding a balance between the two.”

While the team will look to celebrate small victories, some players are eager to show the other teams just what they’re made of.

“For the team, I hope that we’re able to earn some type of respect from other teams in the conference and make a stand and shock the conference,” senior and RB Blair Wynn said. “We’re the underdog.”

Thus far, the Setters haven’t accomplished that mission, starting off the season at 0-2 after matchups against Alderson Broddus on Sept. 6, and Merrimack College on Sept. 13.

Still, Rondeau understands that with a new staff and about 30 new players it is all a process that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.

According to Rondeau the good and bad become a “reference point or watermark for development.”

“We made a lot of good football plays but we are not a playing good football yet,” Rondeau said. “Our consistency is the difference.  But with those elements we take away we can show our players what they are capable of and where the inconsistencies are.”

The next home game for the Setters will be Sept. 20 as they take on Southern Connecticut State at Ann M. Dorner Field, with kickoff at 12 p.m.