Throughout the week, Case Western Reserve University will be recognizing the seniors on its fall sports teams. While some of their athletic careers may be continuing, we wanted to take some time to show our appreciation for their efforts during the time of the year that would traditionally mark the end of their time as collegiate athletes.
Every day this week, athletics.case.edu will be featuring a virtual senior day ceremony and a short article on each team's senior class. Today's team is football.
The Case Western Reserve University football team's senior class had a chance to make history in 2020. With an NCAA Playoff berth, the group could have become just the second in program history to reach the tournament in three of their four seasons with the program. With a 28-5 record during their three year, the senior class entered the campaign 11 victories shy of becoming the program's all-time winningest class, a record within reach with a run into the NCAA Postseason. And, the group had already laid claim to the only two Presidents' Athletic Conference Championships in program history.
"This year's senior class was involved in the 2017 season, which was probably our best team ever," said CWRU Head Coach Greg Debeljak. "While not many of them started or even played large roles during that season, they observed what it would take to play against and defeat some of the best teams in the country. Over the next two years they continued to prove that our program could compete at the national level."
While history was put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic, the 27-person senior class for the Spartans will leave an indelible impact on the team, through both their play and leadership on the field. The class includes 17 offensive players – quarterback Matthew Boss, running backs Brett Carney, Zach Hall and Kyle Turcovsky, wide receivers Jacob Berg, Joe Dinko, Donny Genetin Jr., Colt Morgan, and Chase Witte, offensive linemen Michael Babbit, Kanyon Combs, Dee Gose, Anthony Polizzi, Brennan Ryan, Jack Williams and Phillip Wyatt, and athlete Mason Gee-Montgomery – and 10 defensive players – defensive lineman Austin Subler, linebackers Michael Amadio, Dominic Barandica, Joshua Clopp, Travis Johnston, Caleb Montgomery, Joshua Smith, Brian Victor and Skyler Wadas, and defensive back Nick Kadlecik.
|2020 CWRU Football Virtual Senior Day Ceremony|
"The personality of the 2021 class could best be described as quiet confidence," said Debeljak. "We don't have a lot of flashy players or me-first guys in this group. They play hard and enjoy being together and competing. No one really cares about who gets the credit, and they celebrate their success together."
For Johnston, who in addition to his all-conference play at linebacker, also returned kicks, punted and saw time at running back, it was the people he interacted with each day, both on and off the field, who defined his experience as a student-athlete at CWRU a positive one.
"I would have to say that the coaches, other players, and staff at CWRU have been the largest factor in what has made my experience a great one," said Johnston. "Practicing, playing, and going to class would not have been nearly as fun without having the quality of students and faculty that CWRU has."
Gose, a two-time Academic All-American offensive lineman, echoed Johnston's statement about the CWRU community, while also adding that the success of the team played a major part in the quality of his collegiate experience.
"My positive experience with CWRU football was defined by the success I encountered, the fun I had, and the people who contributed to both," said Gose. "On top of it all, the ability to be surrounded by like-minded people who care as much about education and career-advancement as they do winning is a great thing to be a part of."
Both players pointed towards an international team trip to Italy and Switzerland after their first year on the team as one of their favorite memories with the team.
"It was my first time experiencing those countries and getting to do it with 40 of your friends is an experience unlike any other," said Johnston. "Aside from being with your friends/teammates, getting to take in the amazing landscapes and cultures is something I will never forget."
Gose also targeted a pair of wins as two of his most memorable moments with the team – the Spartans' double-overtime win at Carnegie Mellon in the final game of the 2017 season and the team's 2019 win against Washington & Jefferson during CWRU's Homecoming Weekend in Cleveland. However, it is the smaller moments accumulated with his teammates over the last four years that stick out for Gose.
"All of the little things in between, including but not limited to, bus rides, overnights in hotels, Cilantro Taqueria with my closest friends after Friday practices, and forging relationships and life skills that will last a lifetime, are some of my experiences with the team that I will cherish the most."
"The 2021 class developed a culture of winning and caring about each other," said Debeljak. "They are each other's best friends and I'm sure those relationships will carry on for the rest of their lives."