When Mike Pearson, head sprint football coach, first got the job in November 2014, he had a two-year plan in mind to build the program from scratch. The first was geared toward introducing the College to sprint football, to creating a new campus culture and to getting his players the experience of firsts: first practice, first game, first touchdown and first victory.
Now, Pearson and his program are embarking on the second year of the plan, doing so with the same focus, the same commitment and the same drive. Most importantly, they are doing so with a year of experience, prepared to take on the full league schedule for the first time and to be tested in a greater way than last season.
“The first year was a fun year and we had a great experience,” Pearson says. “As we move into this year, my biggest expectation is that we learn to adjust to the level of competitiveness of the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) now that we will play all of the established teams in the league.”
These established teams include the University of Pennsylvania, the seven-time champion United States Military Academy, and the 10-time champion United States Naval Academy, which the College will host for a joint practice on Friday, September 9 at 4 p.m. on the CHC grass field.
“The idea of the joint practice was to give a quality teaching experience to our team as a whole,” says Pearson. “Having the opportunity to work side-by-side with the Navy players and coaches will be a great experience on many levels.”
The Griffins finished last year’s provisional schedule with three wins and two losses and will be challenged right out of the gate this year, as they open the season against Army, the defending champions, on their home turf at West Point, N.Y., on Friday, September 16. Then they’ll have a week off before their home opener at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. This year, they play another new foe, Cornell University. Following the clash between the Bears and Griffins, it’s off to Waterbury, Conn., to take on Post University in the second annual CACC Bowl, which the Griffins won last year by a score of 24-21. They’ll remain on the road for their next game in Annapolis to face Navy, a true power in the CSFL.
Following the trip to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, CHC will welcome their city rivals, Penn, for the first time following last year’s scrimmage. They’ll be back on the road in a rematch with the Ravens of Franklin Pierce which defeated the Griffins 45-7 in last year’s only meeting. CHC closes out its season at home with another rematch, this time against Mansfield University, which won last year’s contest 22-6.
“Playing a complete schedule with just the one bye week is definitely the biggest challenge this program has faced so far,” says Pearson. “It’s a step in the growth that this team must take and there is no way around learning other than experiencing the challenges and learning how to adapt.”
Acknowledging that it’s not always going to be easy and that there might be some growing pains this year, Pearson is optimistic and excited for what 2016 has to offer.
“The opportunity to be part of a dynamic group and to compete with some of the top universities in the country is very rewarding and to now be able to say that it is part of the Chestnut Hill experience definitely sets us apart.”
Visit http://www.griffinathletics.com/ for more sprint football information.
— Marilee Gallagher ’14
This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Connections. To read more from that issue, click here.