After a string of lackluster years, the Amherst Football team is looking to rebound with a successful 2022 season. Their campaign begins with a home contest against NESCAC opponent Middlebury on Saturday, Sept. 17.
While competitions are only starting now, the team’s 2022 preparation began as early as last spring. The group of around 80 players, including the new first year class, started playing together during mid-August preseason practices.
“We’ve had some really good practices, we’re continuing to get better. The attitude, the effort, all those things have been outstanding,” Head Coach E.J. Mills said to Amherst Athletics. “These guys have been excellent in terms of their approach to working hard every day.”
Junior tight end Clay Zachery ’24E echoed his head coach’s sentiments. “We’ve been working hard for three weeks now,” said Zachery. “We’re ready to go on this journey and build something special, brick by brick.”
Defensive lineman and team captain Flynn McGilvray ’23 said that this group is especially promising, both culturally and athletically. “We’re all great friends on and off the field, and have a great relationship with most of the kids on the team, and I think that’s extremely important in developing winning and championship culture,” McGilvray said. “And I think that if we can use that to execute on the football field, then we’re gonna be in a very good place this year.”
Recent history for Amherst Football has not brought the on-field success the team has hoped for. Last season, the team had a record of 5-4 including multiple close losses — one of which came against rival Williams in a game where a Mammoth comeback attempt fell just short. In 2019, the team had a similarly disappointing 4-5 record. According to offensive lineman Nick DiPrinzio ’23E, this year has real potential to start a new era in Amherst football. “We wanted to have fun again,” DiPrinzio said. “The past couple seasons haven’t gone the way we wanted them to, but [during] this camp, I’ve seen a lot of energy, a lot of young guys stepping up, new role players. It’s been amazing to see.”
DiPrinzio said one of the team’s main goals for the season is to emphasize taking things one day at a time on the road to the postseason. “Just showing up on time, being attentive, asking questions, and just putting your front foot forward and bringing the best effort you can — I think that’s what’s defined this team this season, and hopefully we can continue with that.”
The team’s slogan for the year is accountability. Complete with matching wristbands, the group hopes to work together not just to improve individually, but as a team. “We always say, if you can’t be accountable for yourself, be accountable for the guy next to you,” DiPrinzio said.
Mills also emphasized the importance of having fun as a group. “You wanna win a championship, because at the end of the day, the joy that that brings your young men and their peers, you can’t replicate it. It’s absolutely priceless,” Mills said. “That’s always the focus.”
His job, Mills said, is to make sure each student-athlete grows holistically — not just athletically. “My purpose is to make a connection with every kid, make them feel really special and valued in our program, and work incredibly hard to make them a better person, student, and athlete. If you do those things, then I think at a place like Amherst, the results will come out,” Mills said.
The football season, which consists of a nine-game NESCAC season in which every team plays each other and contains no postseason tournament, will finish Nov. 12 with an away clash against arch-rival Williams. But, before they can begin thinking of that match, the beginning of the season looms, with the Panthers the first team on the Mammoths’ schedule. Their first game of the season will kick off on Saturday at 2 p.m.