Seniors look to leave mark on Alma football program entering final game

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Alma, Mich. - "How will you leave your mark?" That was the question posed to Head Coach Greg Pscodna's first recruiting class in the fall of 2012 as he took over a struggling program. For four years he has been asking that class how they would leave their mark on Alma College, and this weekend the senior class has a chance to go out on top and give the Scots their best season since 2006.

On Saturday (Nov. 14), Alma will recognize 16 student-athletes and their dedication to rebuilding a football program that has won an MIAA championship in every decade. While the Scots will not get a chance to lift the MIAA trophy this season, they have reached the highest win total the program has seen since 2008 and eclipsed the total number of wins over the last three years combined.

"They've bought in," Pscodna said when reflecting on the senior class. "When I got here four years ago, we came in and said, 'you're either in or your out.' If you buy in, good things are going to happen. A lot of credit goes to this senior class. They've stuck with it for four years, and they are reaping the rewards this year. It's not what we wanted - we wanted a MIAA championship - but we've had some great wins, and they've left their mark on turning this program around."

Alma has a chance to send this senior class out in style, but it has a formidable opponent in the Olivet College Comets. Olivet, which has been nationally-ranked this season, comes to Bahlke Field with an 8-1 overall record and a 4-1 mark in the MIAA, with its only loss coming at the hands of No. 21 Albion. Olivet is on the outside looking in when it comes to the MIAA's automatic bid for the NCAA Division III playoffs, but the Comets still have a chance to share the MIAA crown and get an at-large bid.

"They're a very good football team," Pscodna said. They have a lot to play for, and it's going to be a big game. I think our kids are ready, and our seniors will be ready knowing this will be their last hurrah. It's going to be a great day and hopefully we can play 60 minutes of complete football."

The Scots are coming off a 66-28 loss last week at Albion, which snapped Alma's three-game winning streak and saw the Britons clinch a share of the league championship. The Scots jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first 15:30 of the game with a chance to score more, but turnovers doomed Alma as the Scots gave the ball up five times in the loss.

"I thought we played well at times, especially at the beginning of the game, but we made some bad decisions, had a couple of turnovers, and that led to points for Albion," Pscodna said. "As good as they are, you can't give them freebies and they took advantage of it."

As potent as the Britons were on offense, the Comets are just as good, as Olivet averages over 45 points a game while their quarterback, junior Braden Black, is the league's top-rated passer. The Scots defense, which has made more tackles behind the line of scrimmage than any other team in the MIAA, will be tested again this week and will be missing a key component as junior Troy Gahm (Gaylord, Mich./Gaylord) will be out after suffering a season-ending injury last week at Albion.

"We've got to create turnovers and give our offense a chance to score some easy points," Pscodna said. "Our offense has done a good job of driving the football and scoring. Sixty minutes is a long time and a lot of things happen and we've got to be the aggressor and get after Olivet."

The Scots continue to score early and often in games this season, and have outscored their opponents by a 100-35 margin in the first quarter. In addition, Alma has scored first in all but one game this season. The Alma offense, which has posted the 16th best scoring output in school history already, will be up against on of the top defenses in the MIAA, as the Comets hold opponents to just over 350 yards a game, second in the league.

"We are going to have to do some things to neutralize their defensive line, because they are very big and athletic and aggressive," Pscodna said. "We've got to continue to push the accelerator, keep going fast, and when we have a chance to score, score some points."

The Scots have a few achievable milestones entering their final game of the season. In addition to going after the best record since 2006, the 2015 squad needs just 234 yards to become the 11th team in school history to post 4,000 or more yards of total offense in a season. Individually, sophomore Zac Peterson (Holt, Mich./Holt) is four tackles away from becoming the ninth player in Alma history to record 100 or more tackles in a season, while sophomore Dylan Zaborowski(Jackson, Mich./Michigan Center) has a chance to put himself in the top 10 for passing yards in a season.

Two school records will also be chased on Saturday. Junior Nick Sullivan (Flushing, Mich./Flint Powers Catholic) is six carries away from setting the school record for rushing attempts in a season, and enters the game with 152 attempts. Senior Terry Calagon (Jackson, Mich./East Jackson), a candidate for All-MIAA and All-America honors, is one tackle away from setting the single season record for tackles for loss as he enters his final game. Calagon is already the Scots' career leader in sacks and tackles for loss, and enters the game with 17.5 tackles for loss this season, a half-tackle behind Tony Galarno (2016).

"Terry has been a great defensive player and a great defensive leader," Pscodna said. "He's a kid that when we recruited him, I thought he could be a potential All-American player. He's very smart, and the team looks up to him. We're really going to miss him after he plays his last game for us."

Kickoff on Saturday will take place at 1:00 p.m. at Bahlke Field on the Alma College campus. Sixteen student athletes will be honored prior to kickoff in a special Senior Day ceremony. The game will be broadcast locally, with Collin Hinman calling the play-by-play for WMLM 1520 AM. Live stats and video will also be available on www.GoAlmaScots.com. 

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
Box Score Recap Photos
at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
Video Box Score Recap Photos
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