[Vandal] Focus Is On Seniors In Idaho’s Final Home Game
robiegruss at aol.com
robiegruss at aol.com
Sat Nov 6 09:03:14 PDT 2021
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSaturday, November , 2021
Focus Is On Seniors In Idaho’s Final Home Game
Several Vandals have been playing college football since 2015, ’16
By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — The message this week from Idaho football coach Paul Petrino and the coaching staff was simple: Go out this weekend and get a win for the seniors.
Today’s game between Idaho and Southern Utah is the last at the Kibbie Dome this season — and the final home game for a unique group of upperclassmen.
Because of a COVID-19 extension granted by the NCAA, many of this year’s football players were given an extra season. Several Vandals took advantage of the opportunity to extend their college careers, including a couple that are playing in their sixth or, even, seventh seasons.
“This week I told our team on Sunday night, this whole week is about one thing: This is a one-game season for the seniors,” Petrino said. “We need to do everything we can so those guys walk out of that Dome with a win in their last home game.”
The Vandals (2-6, 1-4 Big Sky) and Thunderbirds (1-8, 0-6) kick off at 1 p.m. (ESPN+).
Petrino’s message was heard loud and clear.
“Give the seniors a dub on their last game at home,” said fullback Logan Kendall. “We’ve talked about just finish strong, stay (locked in).”
Said linebacker Tre Walker, “We just want to play for them, for the seniors, for the people that’s not playing this year. … That’s the mindset of this game.”
Added linebacker Fa’avae, Fa’avae, “Win out, 1-0.”
The Vandals enter this week on a three-game skid. It’s worse for the T-birds, who have dropped seven straight and are winless in road games and in conference play.
But SUU shouldn’t be underestimated. It came one point shy of upsetting No. 11 Montana a week ago in a contest that came down to a pick-six and a blocked field goal. The Griz somehow squeaked out a 20-19 win.
The spring game between Idaho and SUU was another one-point thriller. It took a last-minute touchdown drive led by third-string quarterback Nikhil Nayar for the Vandals to win that one, 33-32.
“It’s good that we have them at home,” Petrino said. “I think it’ll be a close game, I think it’ll come down to the fourth quarter.”
If the game does turn into another thriller, Idaho's veteran leadership at key positions could be a difference in a game where emotions are sure to be on display in the home finale.
Graduate transfer Mike Beaudry is in his second season with the Vandals, but the big-armed quarterback has been playing college football since 2015. A severe leg injury deferred his official debut at West Florida to 2017.
Idaho mainstay Rahsaan Crawford has been suiting up in gold and silver since 2016.
Another graduate player, Crawford redshirted that year and also made his start in 2017, and has spent time on the offensive and defensive lines as well as at fullback.
Star defensive end/buck linebacker Charles Akanno is another player who’s been with since 2016, and defensive backs Jalen Hoover and Tyrese Dedmon have anchored the secondary since Idaho 2017.
Although he’s listed as a junior, the game also will be the last at home for Walker. The Big Sky’s preseason defensive MVP said he plans to enter the NFL draft in the spring. Walker is tied for third in the conference this season in tackles with 77.
“I’m just excited for the next chapter, excited to finish this season out with my boys,” Walker said. “Go out and try to win and just finish this out as hard as we can and see where life takes us.”
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