LEICESTER, Mass. — For 42 weeks of the year the Becker College Hawks football team has been preparing for 10 contests — the first of which will be a season-opening rematch with Fitchburg State on Aug. 31.
"That first game, this will be a rocking and rolling place," said Head Coach Michael Lichten. "It'll be the most energized, explosive atmosphere that Becker Football has ever been a part of."
Lichten, who in his second year as head coach of the Leicester-based school, hopes to see the Hawks to their first winning season. Last year the team went 1-9, but he said he is confident a large force of veterans, fresh new talent, a dedicated team and months of work will pay off on that first face-off.
This year, Lichten said, the Hawks defensive game is made up of an experienced line of players ready to execute their roles. Lineman Kenny Quist said the line "looks the strongest and hungriest" it has been in a while.
"We plan to use our age as an advantage and really dominate other offenses. A lot of people have experience and that's what you need to win games out here," said Eddie Guerrere, a fourth-year linebacker. "Everybody's been working all summer, whether it be in the weight room or field work, to get their bodies and minds prepared to try and win some games this year."
For senior wide receiver Luis Sanchez, family "is a real word" for the Hawks.
Sanchez stepped into a leadership role as one of the team captains this year, and said the freshmen coming in "really look up to us upperclassmen for knowledge and tips."
Furthermore, the camaraderie of their team involves teaching by example, said fellow captain Johnattan Rivera.
"You can teach people plays, but it's the effort that you can't teach, and with the upperclassmen this year you never have to question their effort, or heart," he said. "This school hasn't ever experienced a winning program, and so being a part of the group that maybe takes us over that hump, it's going to be more than I could ever ask for."
Guerrere echoed the sentiment that the team was like an extended family.
"These are going to be my brothers for life," said Guerrere.