FOOTBALL Brunswick needs a win against Williston-Northampton to earn bowl bid
Win and in was the theme for the Brunswick School football team during practice this week and rightly so.
According to coach Jarrett Shine, should the Bruins beat visiting Williston-Northampton School on Saturday, they will earn a trip to the NEPSAC championship bowl game.
“If we win, we are in, though we won’t know right away who we will be playing,” Shine said. “Our players came to practice this week knowing that and they know what’s at stake in this game.”
Brunswick enters Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Cosby Field — which is its Senior Day game — with a record of 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the Erickson League. Avon Old Farms School and Taft School also own 5-1 league records, but Brunswick beat Taft and lost to Avon. Two teams will most likely qualify for a NEPSAC Bowl matchup.
In Williston-Northampton, the Bruins are facing a squad that’s 3-4 on the season and played most of its league opponents tough (they were edged by Avon Old Farms, 29-26).
“We certainly can’t take this team lightly, I remember last year we only had a 14-7 lead on them at halftime,” Shine said. “Our players are focused and mentally prepared, to face a lot of different things from this team.”
On a windy day that made it difficult for the Bruins to get its passing game on track, the team’s defensive unit stepped up again in last week’s 22-3 road win against Trinity-Pawling School. Behind linebackers Nick Villis and David MacGillivray and defensive lineman Howard Powell, the Bruins shut down Trinity’s potent running attack and completely held down its passing game. The unit must be prepared to face another challenge Saturday against Williston.
“Williston’s quarterback is a playmaker, he can extend plays and is capable of running for a lot of yards,” Shine said. “We have to force other players to make plays for them.”
Eight games into the season, junior Nick Winegardner no longer resembles a first-year starting quarterback. The Bruins’ signal called has steadily improved, making big plays with his arm and legs in key situations.
“Nicky is playing with more confidence, I’ve seen him make some good throws,” Shine said. “He’s watching more film, which has helped him understand what he is seeing from defense and it’s enabled him to improve.”
Though it was windy, Winegardner was able to complete a long touchdown pass to senior star receiver Cornelius Johnson in last week’s win against Trinity-Pawling. The Bruins will look to get some big plays from the Johnson-Winegardner connection against Williston-Northampton.
“I say this every week, but hopefully, we can get off to a fast start on offense and score early — hopefully, on our opening drive,” Shine said. “We can’t afford to get off to a slow start in this game.”