The 2021 Flyers are running short of chances to run out onto the field, with just two games remaining. Photo courtesy of Zach Merz, Flyer News.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
One week ago, the Dayton Flyers football team was recovering from back-to-back losses, the last of which was a 25-point difference after a second half meltdown against Valparaiso, and had fallen out of the Pioneer Football League championship picture.
Now, the Flyers (4-4, 3-3 PFL) are still eliminated from winning the PFL, but are still preparing and competing for a championship every week and have a boost after a 38-31 win at home against Butler. For junior running back Jake Chisholm, who prepares to return to UD next year, that level of preparation is important for the young players and next year’s returnees.
“We still have a lot of young players on the team. And I think finishing this season strong is huge because it really builds momentum for the winter. And then if we build that momentum at the end of the season that carries onto next year and hopefully we’ll next a good season next year, but we got to finish up these last two games now like we’re playing for a championship and if we come out and play hard these two games and then we build that momentum, have a great offseason, I think good things are in the future.”
For Flyers head coach Rick Chamberlin, the way he balances looking forward to next year with preparing for the next opponent – Stetson (3-4, 2-3 PFL) – the focus must remain on the present.
“You can’t look ahead on anything whether it’s having a good year or having a bad year you concentrate on the here and now. That’s what good teams do. That’s what good coaching staffs do, because you got to put all your focus and energy in what you need to do to succeed this week. Not next year, this week.
This week, the Flyers face a Hatters team coming off a dominating 56-14 road win over Presbyterian to follow a COVID forfeit win over Drake.
Chisholm highlighted the athleticism of the Hatters as a challenge in terms of being able to move the ball.
“They’re always an athletic team. I remember a couple years ago, they really came out and they played really hard and they beat us, and so we know it’s gonna be a physical game. It’s gonna be a tough game, especially down there in Florida. It’s a different environment than it is up her in November, so I think that’s something we’ll have to overcome, but we just got to play like any other game, we just got to come out and play hard. Whoever plays the hardest normally wins.”
During last week’s win over Butler, which Chisholm called a “huge momentum builder,” the young offensive line continued to step up.
“I think it was huge for our offensive line as well. Last last three games of the season, it’s definitely big for them and for us to see that they’re still working hard and chugging along and and improving. They’ve been improving every week. And to see that they’re making a lot of big improvements really late in the season is really huge, especially looking into the next year as well.”
Senior linebacker Grant Dyer, who got his first career interception in the win over Butler, highlighted the Hatters’ backfield.
“Their running back (redshirt sophomore Jalen Leary) and their quarterback (graduate Alex Piccirilli) are their two main guys that are pretty good on the offensive side of the ball. But (we) just look out for the wide receivers, shut down the run.”
For the senior from Crescent Spring, Ky., it’s an emotional time as his collegiate career winds down with two games remaining.
“It’s very sad, honestly, but it’s exciting at the same time. Going to Florida, that’s a heck of an opportunity. Especially down there, I know Stetson. But yeah, it’s it’s sad, emotional. But yeah, hopefully that’ll be one heck of a game.”
The first of the final two games for seniors like Dyer will kick off at 1 p.m. in DeLand, Fla., between the Flyers and Hatters.