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Wagner worries beyond football
Even before Superstorm Sandy came calling, the Wagner College football team had plenty to worry about in preparing for a first-place showdown with the 18th-ranked University at Albany on Saturday.
The Seahawks face the challenge of knocking off the defending Northeast Conference champion Great Danes, who have the league’s best offense, in Albany.
If that weren’t enough, Wagner is dealing with the wake of the storm, which knocked out the power on the school campus in Staten Island during its rampage through the East Coast.
“It’s been a little bit crazy,” said Wagner head coach Walt Hameline, a former UAlbany assistant. “No power, none of that stuff. But hey, you adjust. No one got injured or hurt, so that’s the bottom line.”
Still without electricity or hot water, the Seahawks held practice on Wednesday on their game field.
Hameline said Wednesday morning there were only 45 players on campus, minus the 70 or so who weren’t able to get back after being evacuated over the weekend because the subway and bridges were shut down.
Wagner canceled all classes this week. Asked if all the players would return before Saturday’s game, Hameline responded, “You hope so, but I don’t know. Hopefully, most of them make it back.”
There are no plans to cancel the game and Wagner is scheduled to bus to the Capital Region on Friday.
Wagner senior quarterback Nick Doscher, a Staten Island native, was able to stay at his house during the storm and its aftermath. Some of his teammates aren’t so fortunate in dorm rooms without power and showering with cold water.
“We’re trying to toughen them up a little bit that way,” Hameline joked.
Players can get hot meals because there is a generator in the school cafeteria.
“It’s kind of a little hectic, but we’re doing the best we can with it,” Doscher said. “It’s very distracting. We’ve just got to come together and hopefully everyone’s family is OK. Now just get back out there, and maybe it’s a little bit of a blessing to go out and get our mind off things and get back to doing what we love to do, which is to play football.”
Hameline acknowledged that the power outage has slowed down his team’s preparation because, like any football team, the Seahawks need to study video of their opponent. The coaching staff does have use of a generator to charge its equipment.
“If we get the computers charged up and running, we use that on our battery life,” Doscher said. “It’s been tough, but obviously you’ve got to watch film, especially me.”
If the Seahawks pull off the upset this Saturday, they’d take over first place and would clinch their first NEC championship by beating Duquesne on Nov. 17. Wagner (5-3, 5-1) sits in second place, just a half-game behind UAlbany (7-1, 5-0).
Hameline said the players should be able to focus on Saturday despite the deprivation.
“If you give them food, and they have a shower and place to sleep, they’re usually pretty OK,” he said. “As long they have the bare necessities, they’ve got to go play.”
By Mark Singelais, Times Union