Rowan football finished off their season with a win over New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival, The College of New Jersey, 35-21 last Friday night.
It was only the second win of the season for the Profs but finishing off the season on a high note was something Head Coach Jay Accorsi was glad to see.
“I was just really happy for the seniors, the captains, the players, the team to go out on such a high note after such a difficult season and finish a game off,” Coach Accorsi said. “There were times where we were teetering there a little bit and I thought we rose to the occasion and put them away.”
Junior wide receiver and captain, John Maldonado, was a big part of Rowan’s success on offense Friday night and throughout the season. Maldonado averaged 98.7 receiving yards per game, enough to lead the NJAC.
As a captain on the team, Maldonado believes that the team still grew throughout the season and that alone made the year a success.
“The season, obviously, wins and losses, didn’t go as planned. So that’s tough but I think it was still a success,” Maldonado said. “You know, we had a young team so we were just working through some things and obviously taking this season as a growing pain and learning from it.”
Another NJAC stat leader was junior defensive end, AJ Akins. He led the NJAC in sacks and was third in tackles for loss and tackles per game.
“I’ve been talking about this since [the] 2020 season got cancelled and you know, myself, I’ve pretty much manifested this end goal, that I was going to be able to accomplish it and you know, I put in the work, mentally and physically and I think it showed this year,” Akins said. “Being able to finish, like you said, sack leader and pretty high up there in tackles and TFL’s [tackles for loss]. It means a lot because, again, it just shows that the work I put in was worth it.”
Akins is still unsure if he will be returning next season and to use his extra year of eligibility, but, regardless, hopes that some of the younger players on the team can learn from himself and other seniors on the team.
“I just hope that the younger guys were able to look at, you know, what the older guys were able to do, myself, Luke Genise, and a couple of other guys on the defense that, you know, you’ve got to keep going,” Akins said. “And no matter when adversity hits, you’ve got to kind of embrace it, in a sense. So these guys can take it through the next two, three, four years wherever they’re here and be able to fight through hard times because I think that’s what this season has showed us the most.”
Even through a tough season where a lot of games didn’t go Rowan’s way, being out on the field and playing football left the team with a constant sense of appreciation.
“It was just refreshing to be out there. And I think that I carried through the whole year, even, you know, through the tough losses is that I think everybody appreciated just being out there. And I think that helped carry us through a difficult season in terms of wins and losses,” Coach Accorsi said.
Even though the team finished 2-7, Coach Accorsi was extremely proud of how his team carried themselves throughout the season.
“To go through, you know, this season I think that’s the word that comes to mind is being resilient. And having resiliency is just never giving up, always staying the course, working hard, staying diligent, and just believing,” Accorsi said. “It could’ve gone really bad midway through the year, but it never did. And I think that’s the word that comes to mind for this 2021 team is resilient. They were resilient from start to finish.”
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