FOOTBALL: Seniors Are Set For Finale
Vets Reflect On Time With Eagles
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
On Saturday, 16 members of the Boston College football team will step onto the field of Alumni Stadium for their last career home game. Over their four years, the team has seen some discouraging seasons, but there have also been some positives, as they have become some of the leaders in shaping the future of BC football.
“The seniors are a valuable, integral part of any team,” said head coach Frank Spaziani. “A lot of the success and non-success focuses around that, rightfully or wrongfully. You need to have seniors that are quality—and we have quality seniors that have been good kids. It’s always important. The record is not what they want it to be, but that doesn’t diminish their importance to the team.”
For tight end Chris Pantale, the contest against Virginia Tech will bring a lot of emotions for the Class of 2013.
“It’s going to be a really emotional day on Saturday,” he said. “It’s going to be excitement, sadness, and all that stuff. I think a lot of emotions will be running through my head. It’s just scary to reflect back on the amount of time I’ve spent here and how fast it went by.”
While the Eagles have suffered their second straight losing season, the younger members of the team still value the roles that the veteran leaders have played in their personal development, as well as their efforts toward building up the program’s winning ways.
“They’ve all been around the block,” said sophomore center Andy Gallik. “They know all the ins and outs of doing everything. They know how to do things the right way, and show up everyday and work hard. Myself and all the younger guys who have been surrounded by them for however many years take their work ethic, and use what they did to be successful. They’re great role models for our team.”
Junior quarterback Chase Rettig echoed this sentiment toward his senior teammates. After being thrown into the battlefield as an inexperienced freshman two seasons ago, Rettig relied heavily on the class ahead of him to give him confidence and help him learn on the fly.
“With me coming in as a freshman, I was able to pull things from them, and they really accepted me into the huddle,” he said. “You learn a lot from your peers, and the guys who are ahead of you, so I’ve been very fortunate to have the class ahead of me. They’ve all helped me achieve some of the things that I’ve done.”
The seniors, however, do not see their job as finished, even after playing their final minutes on the field. Tackle Emmett Cleary believes that his classmates still have a responsibility to ingrain a certain mentality into the program.
“The main thing is to make sure that people don’t get used to losing,” he said. “It can become a mentality that losing is all right. I don’t think that’s the case here.”
When asked how he plans on getting this message across, Cleary was clear on what needs to be done.
“You don’t stand for it,” he said. “You can’t treat this stuff like business as usual, because it’s not. And it can’t be if we want to be the program that we think we are, even after our class is gone.”
While many of the seniors were focusing on Virginia Tech, as well as their final days in maroon and gold, one Eagle was still grappling with his future on the heights. Senior quarterback Dave Shinskie, once Spaziani’s starter, revealed that he is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to opt for a fifth year.
“You never know,” he said. “I could still redshirt here. I’ve been thinking about that.”
After spending 2003-2009 playing minor league baseball, Shinskie joined the Eagles for the 2009 season. He started 10 games his freshman year, while seeing action in all 13 games. During that span, he threw for 2,049 yards and 15 touchdowns, both rookie records for the program. In 2010, however, he only started three games before being sent to the bench. He’s only seen action in two games since.
While some might question why he would return after being pushed to the bottom of the depth chart, members of the team and coaching staff believe that his role as a leader has been essential to the program.
“I can’t say enough about Dave,” Spaziani said. “I certainly, and he certainly, wished the on-field experience would have been a little bit more positive at this stage than it was when he started out. What Dave has meant for BC and how he’s handled a very, very difficult situation—a lot of guys have had morale issues over a lot less than that—Dave’s been a man to everyone on this staff. The previous staffs and this staff have spoken about him of what kind of character he has. You wouldn’t know, talking with him, where he is on the depth chart. He’s been enthusiastic from the moment he was not the starting quarterback till now. He’s a great asset to our school.”
Rettig, who supplanted Shinskie in 2010, has learned many lessons from his teammate despite playing over him.
“The biggest thing is that he’s taken on the leadership role,” he said. “He gets guys excited before the games. He’s broken us down a couple of times at practice. Me and him have a good relationship. We work out together on lift days. We’re close friends.
“Even if he’s not on the field during game days, he’s there getting guys ready to go. He’s older than all of us, so he brings some maturity into the locker room. Everyone likes him a lot. I like him a lot. He’s a good teammate.”
Shinskie, too, doesn’t see his lack of playing time as a deterrent for his return to the team next year. All he could do after being benched was work hard in practice and be a good influence for his teammates.
“Not playing anymore and being second-string was disappointing, but at the same time Coach had a lot of good points on why he was benching me,” Shinskie said. “I was new to college football and college sports and that aspect, so I didn’t really know how to handle it except for the way that I know how to handle things. That’s just with poise and hope that Chase was going to get it done from week to week. All I could do is play my role, and that was a leadership role on the team. I’m an older guy, and I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms. Even if you are losing, you can’t have negative things going towards the guys, even if you think that way.”