Cameron Krakowiak ’24 (he/him), Staff Writer
After their season was postponed in the fall, the Davidson Football team didn’t know whether they were going to have a season this year and their quest for their Pioneer Football League (PFL) Championship was put on hold momentarily. However, after the Pioneer League released an adaptive spring schedule, the ‘Cats made the most of their opportunity. After a 4-1 record in conference play, Davidson was looking forward to capping off their season against Stetson University on Saturday, with the Pioneer League crown at stake.
However, on Thursday evening, the team learned that they had won the Pioneer League after Stetson University forfeited the game that was scheduled to be played two days later.
Davidson finished the 2021 spring regular season with a 4-2 record overall, including 4-1 in the PFL. On their path to a championship, they beat conference rival San Diego State University 31-25 handing them their first league loss since 2015 and breaking their previous 39 game consecutive win streak.. Had San Diego won, they would have earned the record for the most consecutive wins in NCAA FCS history. Senior Quarterback Tyler Phelps threw three touchdown passes versus the Toreros in that game, capping a strong offensive showout.
Freshman defensive lineman Jonathan Hammond, who led the Wildcats in sacks this season, spoke about the team’s game vs San Diego. “They were about to say they’re about to set a record and so that [for us] was a big motivator, because, you know, we had a chance to make history for Davidson football. They were kind of a rival as what I had been hearing before I came up. But I mean, you can’t really be a rival until you beat the other team. So now we’ve solidified that.”
Coming off of the win against San Diego, the Wildcats had the chance to go undefeated in PFL play when they faced Presbyterian. However, they lost 29-24, coming up short in the fourth quarter on their final drive.
Phelps spoke about the pressure that game had and their motivations going forward: “I think we got caught up in that a little bit last week at Presbyterian and lost that one. And I think we learned like, hey, we just need to play football, play the game. We know how to play and Coach Abel says all the time, right, the scoreboard will take care of itself. We just have to do what we’re coached to do.”
Phelps also spoke about the growth of the program during his four years here. He commented, “If you would have told me then that by the time I graduated, we would have been going into the last week of the season with a chance to win the conference, I would have told you, ‘you’re crazy’. So that’s been super rewarding to go through that process and work as hard as we all have to put ourselves in this position.”
Phelps described the culmination of all the hard work and jumping obstacles the team had to face this year saying,
“Yeah, I mean, just how much we’ve all had to go through this past year. Like as a football team. There’s been a lot of times where I know we’ve been told to do things that we never had to do before and didn’t even know if we were gonna get to see the fruits of that labor. We were outside in the heat on platforms with no weight rack in the summer. We had no air conditioning, we were wearing a mask and we had no idea if it would pay off and so I guess I’m just super happy to see that all that work is coming together.”
As the PFL champions, Davidson punched their ticket to the FCS Championship. They will play #4 Jacksonville State this Saturday, April 24th, in the first round of the sixteen team tournament.