It may be April, but Sacred Heart football will play for a conference championship this weekend. The Pioneers are the only team in the state to opt in to a spring college football season and now they have a chance to make it count.
“It’s been challenging,” said Sacred Heart football head coach Mike Nofri. “You know we haven't played in 15 months with the fall being canceled and spring practice last year it was an opportunity for us to compete and play in four games.”
The Northeast Conference hosted an abbreviated schedule: four spring games. SHU only played three with one of their opponents canceling with a COVID-19 positive in their program.
“Two hundred days in, 300 days in it might've been hard but when we found out about it I think it really lifted everybody's spirits,” said tight end Ed Cuddahy.
From wondering when they would play again to now being in the championship game of an unconventional NEC season. The Pioneers are set to play Duquesne, the only team to hand them a loss this season.
“I think Duquesne and us are the two best teams and I’m looking forward to the showdown on Sunday,” said Nofri. “We wanted another shot at them and our kids did what they had to do in the last three games to put themselves in that situation.
Not just on the field but the dedication to their game off the fieldsometimes the only thing keeping their season alive.
“Just a sacrifice from each and every person making sure that we're able to play in this championship this weekend,” said junior running back Julius Chestnut.
The Pioneers have stayed dedicated to wearing masks, socially distancing, limiting social interactions, taking shifts in locker rooms and working out in pods so hopefully they can take this season as far as it can go.
“Champions,” said Cuddahy. “That's the one word I want to use to describe this season. I can't use it right now, not yet but...I want everyone to be called a champion after this weekend. “
Nofri said they have only had one positive COVID-19 test all spring season. The pioneers play Duquesne at 2 p.m. on Sunday.