The University of Northern Colorado football team is preparing for its final home game of the season, and it’s focusing on ending the year with a positive performance and, hopefully, a win.
UNC (2-7, 1-5 Big Sky) will host Northern Arizona (3-6, 2-4 Big Sky) this weekend on senior day.
Naturally, emotions are expected to be high. Families and friends will be in attendance or sending support from afar.
The Bears want a win. They haven’t been victorious since Sept. 24, when they defeated Idaho State for homecoming. Several games have been flat-out disappointing, while others have been plagued by the consistency issues.
“My main goal is to put our players in a position to have success and hopefully enable them to play their best football,” UNC coach Ed McCaffrey said Tuesday. “Regardless of the score, we all want to win. Nobody wants to win more than I do. I promise you.”
McCaffrey said the team showed good things against Portland State last weekend. Offense had some explosive plays, while the defense was able to get some much-needed stops. However, the team also had major breakdowns in the middle of the game, which ultimately cost the possible upset.
Northern Colorado is once again looking to complete a game. McCaffrey said it doesn’t matter what it takes, either. Last year, the Bears defeated NAU, 17-10, in overtime. This year, the Lumberjacks have struggled but played well against Montana State.
He wants to see the Bears play to their fullest potential and put a dub on the record.
“The effort doesn’t need to change. Guys are giving great effort. It’s just a matter of just making plays on game day,” he said. “I don’t care if we win in regulation, in overtime, in quadruple overtime. I don’t even care. I just you know, hopefully our guys will play their best football and hopefully we’ll be able to get a win.”
To have a win come on senior day, during a season full of injuries and disappointments, that would mean a lot. UNC has not won on senior day since a 42-0 shutout of Cal Poly in 2017.
Senior defensive lineman Brooks Talkington has been with the program for six years. He started as a redshirt in 2017 and earned an additional year due to COVID. The lineman from Texas said he’s seen teammates and even defensive line coach Eddie Gonzales – a 2021 graduate – walk the field on their own senior days. It never felt like that would be him, but it will be.
It will be bittersweet to realize he, along with the other graduates, will be on the sidelines for one last game in Greeley.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, and it’s something you want to hang on to the rest of your life. At the same time, all good things must come to an end. So it’s a beautiful and heart-aching moment,” Talkington said. “Ideally, we send the seniors out, including myself, on a high note from our last game in Nottingham.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Nick Norris said he wants to win, too. It would be great for the team overall, but Norris said he is thankful for the leadership displayed by the seniors and graduate students. He knows the underclassmen want to do everything they can to send them off with one final home win.
The program has been through a rollercoaster since jumping to the Division I level. Maybe Saturday will be a high point.
“We just want to leave the place better than we found it,” Talkington said. “(Norris) has been a huge part of me enjoying my senior year and everything. We have a wonderful, great group of young guys that are coming up. We want to leave a little bit of a foundation to build on for next year.”
UNC is set to kick off at noon against NAU, with the recognition events happening before kick off. The game will be on ESPN+ and 1310 KFKA.
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