CORTLAND — The Cortland Purple Tigers football team will have a lot of youth on their roster this fall, but they won’t be lacking for experience or mental toughness.
Despite returning only four seniors this year — former first team AllSCAC linebacker Brycen Palmer, FJ Ott, Jack Waldbauer and Kris van der Veur — Peter Reif’s squad retains three of their four starting linebackers, three of their five starting offensive linemen and an underclass that is prepared for varsity competition after being initiated in a unique way during the COVID shortened fall II season, in which they finished 3-1.
“Due to COVID last season, our freshmen were required to play on the varsity team,” Reif said. “It was a tough season for many of them as they practiced six days a week but did not receive much playing time during games. The mental toughness that they developed last season has prepared them to be significant contributors this season.”
Those underclassmen include Gage Burlingame, Patrick Clay, Mark Darling, Kollin Rae Dye, Wyatt Tinker and DaeSean West.
The Purple Tigers have also added Danny Jackson, Connor Lynch, Malcolm Wilson, Isaiah Blumenfeld, Jefferey Thomas and Dominic Thomas.
Other key returning players include Matt Barber, Tyler Williams, Aidan Farron, Ryan Kline, Luke Darling, Espen Chapman, Darien Lodman and Asher Tinker.
With only four returning seniors, Reif recognizes that many sophomores will have to step into key roles. But he also says that “we will have a very competitive team this year. We expect to challenge for a playoff spot at the end of the year. The key will be to stay healthy and play fundamental football.”
Reif also has a new addition to his coaching staff, as Caleb Wright joins the Purple Tigers as special teams coordinator, wide receivers coach and linebackers coach.
- Saturday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m. vs. Watkins Glen/Odessa Montour
- Friday, Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m. vs. Oneida
- Friday, Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m. at Mexico
- Friday, Sept. 24, 6:30 p.m. vs. South Jefferson
- Friday, Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m. vs. New Hartford
- Friday, Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. vs. Marcellus
- Friday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. at Homer
- Friday, Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m. at Westhill