Football team has high hopes for T.J. game, rest of season

The+Baldwin+Varsity+Football+Team+plays+in+the+5A+Division.

Carson Chapel

The Baldwin Varsity Football Team plays in the 5A Division.

Veteran Baldwin varsity football players are used to playing with a chip on their shoulders due to past struggles, but freshman Will Martin already has that mindset.

The Highlanders have a 1-0 record after defeating Brashear 47-17 in their first game, but tonight they play the highly skilled Thomas Jefferson Jaguars.

“I think this (game) will teach me a lot of things because I will be competing neck to neck with a D1 Wisconsin commit,” Martin said, referring to T.J. tight end and defensive end Jordan Mayer. “This puts so much fuel in my fire because he has something that I want, and that gives me a chip on my shoulder.”

Senior lineman Victor Iaquinta agreed that the Highlanders play with an attitude.

“Baldwin is looked down on because of our previous records, so we worked hard in the summer by going over plays extensively, lifting and conditioning hard to prepare for the season,” Iaquinta said.

Martin, meanwhile, already has been named a team captain, and he looks forward to seeing the team develop.

“Being such a young captain on this football team really gives me a lot of things to look forward to, like getting to see my teammates grow so much over this season,” he said.

Baldwin has moved from 6A to 5A this year, but its schedule remains challenging. Junior John Kozar said the move will not make that much of a difference.

We’re excited to go out and shock students, teams, and even coaches.”

— Brady Hartman

“The switch really won’t affect the way we have to play,” he said. “We still have to play hard, if not harder, to be able to compete.”

The offseason was a grind for players, even causing a few to leave the team, but that did not discourage the Highlanders.

“There were some bumps in the road, losing some key contributors to our team,” Martin said. “But … we believe that we are going to be a top competitor at the 5A level.”

Before the season even started, the team could sense a new feel in the locker room.

“In the offseason, we all knew that this team was something special,” Kozar said. “I think the team has a lot more chemistry than previous years, now that we see each other almost every day in school.”

Senior lineman Brady Hartman, who also has been named a captain, waited patiently for the season to start.

“I was very anxious because everyone put in hard work all summer and we’re excited to go out and shock students, teams, and even coaches. I think that’s exactly what we did (against Brashear) and what we are going to do,” Hartman said.

Many of the players to keep an eye on are juniors and seniors. Andrew Sharp, Keith Mincin, Joe Carr, Bobby Benton, Kozar and Martin are all high-skill players. Key linemen include Logan Murphy, Vincent Pacella, Aidan Murphy, and Iaquinta.

The Highlanders know they are in charge of their season.

“Our record will be surprising to some people as our team knows the only team that can beat us is ourselves. So as long as we don’t let ourselves get in the way, we will have a lot of numbers in the win column,” Martin said.

Kozar echoed that mindset.

“Teams should be scared to play us this year,” Kozar said. “We have all the confidence and know we can succeed as long as we stick together.”