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Homecoming Preview

David Otero
Sports Editor

“I usually get chills just looking at the setup of the field the day before the game,” says Pioneers’ senior captain defensive back Antonio-Powell Fields. There is no day quite like Homecoming. For players, families, students and alumni of a college or university, Homecoming is a time to unite, have a good time, and support athletic programs, especially football.

“The Post Pride that shows from students is a true emotion that is great to see at a small private school like LIU Post,” senior wide receiver Ryan Derham explains. Although an exhilarating day for most, this day can also be bittersweet for others. This Saturday will be Derham’s final Homecoming game. “I have kind of grown to enjoy everyone having most of the same interest on that one day which is everyone being social and attending a football game.” This season, Derhamleads the Pioneers with three touch¬down receptions.

The Pioneers (2-4) started off the season on a strong note winning its first two games in blowout fashion against Clarion University and Cheyney University. However, since then, the team has dropped four consecutive games and has decreased its scoring output each week as the season progresses.

With Homecoming approaching, some players might feel pressured to play above their heads and above what they are capable of for this week with so many people cheering them on. “We don’t really change our routine,” notes junior linebacker Rob Bright, who has a team-high49 tackles. “Same thing goes for winning. We would like to win every game equally but winning in front of a large crowd and alumni is very nice.”

“It is important to win every game, but a win on this day is special because Homecoming is about the school, and we are representing it,” explains Powell-Fields, who has 45 tackles on the season, second-most on the team only trailing Bright. The players prepare for this game like any other, but winning on this day gives a feeling no other game can provide.

The Pioneers will look to bounce back and avoid losing its fifth consecutive game on Saturday as the team gets set to face the Millersville University Marauders (2-5). Last week, the Marauders snapped a five-game losing streak crushing Clarion University by a score of 35-0. In the first game of the season, the Pioneers also cruised to a victory over Clarion, 46-26. The Pioneers are coming off a lopsided loss to the West Chester University Golden Rams on Saturday, October 13, by a score of 41-6. The Pioneers will aim to make the proper adjustments necessary to win on Homecoming.

“It is extremely important to get a win this year on Homecoming not only because there are a lot of people that we don’t want to let down, but coming off of a four game losing streak the sense of urgency to get a win is over¬whelming,” declares senior tight end Pat Fitzgerald.

“We need to get this win to get our sea¬son going in the right direction and seeing a huge crowd against a tough team should give some chills,” junior outside linebacker Chris DiIorio states.

“Winning is most definitely the top priority because we realize how many of our fans will be there, and we don’t want to let them down,” says senior linebacker Anton Rukaj.

Up until last season, the Pioneers had won three Homecoming contests in a row. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, last season the team lost to Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 42-30 in an exciting contest. In that battle, the Golden Bears started off the game with21 straight points. However, the Pioneers would make it a game and answer back scoring 17 points to close out the first half.

Before the loss to Kutztown last year, the Pioneers defeated East Stroudsburg University in 2010 (28-17), Shippensburg University in 2009 (40-24), and Millersville University in 2008 (55-28) on Homecoming.
The Pioneers will try for a similar result against Millersville this year on Homecoming in front of an overflowing crowd at Hickox Field. “When Homecoming comes along and you see packed stands it adds a lot of emotion to the game, which I love,” an excited Derham describes. “I’ll talk to the stands at times and yell and scream and it’s all positive when you see a response.”

“I love playing in front of a packed house. Crowds play a large part in football, so the more fans we have the better it is,” states Bright.

“It’s really important to get a win on this day just like every other Saturday of the season,” says senior defensive back D.J. Young. “It feels awesome to see a packed house at a game. It makes me feel comfort¬able and less nervous to play.”

“The fans provide that extra motivation and passion in a big game like this,” says senior wide receiver Grayson Laurino. “Not very many people are given the opportunity to play in front of thousands of fans while representing something bigger than yourself. We are thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to proudly represent LIU Post on Saturday.”

“I love playing in front of a packed house. Crowds play a large part in football, so the more fans we have the better it is,” states Bright.

“It [the crowd] gives great energy to the team during the game, which optimizes players’ performance,” says Rukaj.

Powell-Fields echoes the same sentiments from his teammates. “The atmosphere is great. It gets the team’s adrenaline going to be on the field and hear the crowd when we make plays.”

“Having the crowd on your side allows you to really feel the momentum and energy, which can be tough for the other team to overcome once that momentum shifts to the home team,” explains freshman tight end Sean Binckes.

Homecoming is important for the entire University. Everyone on campus has the ability to get together to have fun rooting on your friends and classmates. “Overall, Homecoming is a great experience for everyone to socialize with each other and show Post Pride and support athletics. I love what I do, love my teammates and love putting on a show for the people who watch,” explains Derham.

Take Derham’s advice and show your Post Pride and attend this year’s Homecoming on Saturday, October 20. The football game starts at 1 p.m., but events are scheduled throughout the day. Pregame is slated for 12:30 p.m. You can listen to the game on 88.1 FM and

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