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Coach and players have high hopes for upcoming season

Joe Bittner, ‘Doah Staff Writer
September 4, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of SU Athletics.  New head coach, Scott Yoder, works with his players during practice.

‘Doah photo courtesy of SU Athletics.
New head coach, Scott Yoder, works with his players during practice.

The Shenandoah University football team has worked hard all summer to become the best athletes they can be in the hopes of having a better season than they did last year. The Hornets finished the season with a disappointing record of 1-9 and 0-7 in the ODAC. 

Battling through a tough first year in the conference, the players have gained significant experience and look to build from it. The competition changed with the new conference, but that is not the only change for the Hornets.

Scott Yoder takes charge of the Hornets this season in his first year at Shenandoah. After 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Hobart College in New York, Yoder wanted to coach in a conference filled with history, both on and off of the field. 

“One of the big draws to coaching here at S.U. was competing in the ODAC.  I know it is one of the top academic and athletic conferences in the country.” 

Taking over a program after a season like last year’s may be a challenge, but Yoder knows better than to let that define him and his team.

“I know that our program is hungry for success and we are working towards the first ODAC win.” 

This hunger is shown not only in the returning players, but the new ones as well. 43 new players will join the program this year, and they are already making an impact. 

“They are laying the foundation of what our program will be in the next two to three years. I expect many of the newcomers to be on the field this year, helping us win football games.”

Senior free safety and team co-captain Byron Mitchell, second team All-ODAC accolade winner last year, agrees with his coach. 

“This is probably the best class of freshmen I have ever been with. They are a very talented class that will have a huge impact on our team this season.”  

As a leader of the team, Mitchell looks to take this program to the next level. The first step in that process is to move forward from last year. “I want the team and the coaching staff to put last year behind us. This is a new season with a new system in place, so putting last year in the past will keep us focused on the task at hand for this year.”

Mitchell co-captains this team along with Sean Blackman, Preston Funk and David Bell. These four and Yoder believe one particular element of the program should be emphasized the most: being a team. A team that has struggled in the past cannot hope to turn things around without coming together as a whole. 

“We told the team from the very first day that it’s the little things that will help us win this season, and being together as a team on and off the field will be a big key to our success. We have to encourage each other and have each other’s back at all times,” said Mitchell. 

Yoder also explained this to his players. “That is our mission. Simply put, it involves putting the team first in every phase of our lives and understanding the great opportunities we have at this University and representing S.U. the right way.”  

The Hornets open their season on Saturday, Sept. 7, at home against Gallaudet at 7 p.m. Admission for students is free with your S.U. I.D., so make sure to attend. It is an important year for the Hornets football team and fan support is an immeasurable contribution.

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