WATCH: Varsity football falls to rivals in Battle of the Birds, misses playoffs

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Originally published on December 6, 2014

The long and demanding season for the Lowell’s varsity football team came to an end on Nov. 14, where the Cardinals were defeated by the Lincoln Mustangs 40–8 in their last game for the league.

“It was a close game, and our defense was definitely tested.”

The Cardinals started off their football season strong with a close 34–28 win against the Burton Pumas. This had set up their hopeful and passionate fire to play that lasted throughout the rest of their games. “It was a close game, and our defense was definitely tested,” sophomore running back Martell Coleman said. “But as a team, we managed to pull through. That win brought a lot of confidence in us to keep playing throughout the season.”

Junior wingback and defensive back Andrew Chiang attempts to pull in a touchdown pass in the Cardinals’ 27–18 loss to Washington on Nov. 1. Photo by Amber Ly

Prior to their final game, the team lost 27–18 in the Battle of the Birds against the Washington Eagles. Senior quarterback Antonio Hughes suffered from a broken collarbone in the final quarter of the game. Without Hughes for the rest of the year, the Cardinals continued to play on. “It’s sad to see my teammates go down and not be able to play,” senior running back Zach Toy said after the Battle of the Birds. “But when they go down, it gives me more fire, and I want to play and never leave the field [for them.]”

“We weren’t ready for a couple of these games.”

Afterwards, the Cardinals lost the Nov. 7 game against the Mission Bears 46–8 as well, finishing the season off with an overall standing of 2–7, and a league standing of 2–4. Winning their two games would have granted the team a spot in the playoffs, but their inexperience proved to be too great a burden. “We weren’t ready for a couple of these games,” Coleman said. “That is, we weren’t prepared, and we didn’t have enough real experience in playing these types of games. It showed in the way we executed a couple of plays that we didn’t know what to expect in the outcome.”

Senior tight end and defensive end Darius Thomas prepares to tackle an Eagle player. The Cardinals finished their season with a 2–4 league record. Photo by Amber Ly

Chan intends to add more basic football fundamentals next year with more emphasis on the blocking and tackling aspects of the game.

Head coach Danny Chan saw a similar problem. “Our inexperienced players definitely made us a bit weaker,” he said. “I thought our guys would step up to the new challenges the style brought. Some did, but others lacked confidence.”

Despite the trial-and-error for this season, Chan intends to add more basic football fundamentals next year with more emphasis on the blocking and tackling aspects of the game. “We didn’t really tackle well this season,” Chan said. “Each individual position forgot their assigned spots on the football field during plays. To learn from this, I’m hoping to have a more rigorous spring practice session involving more contact drills.”

Chiang sprints down the field in the Battle of the Birds. Photo by Amber Ly

“We need more reaction to the ball rather than doubt and thinking on the fly.”

Chan is hoping these new practice sessions will allow the players to be more confident in how they react when the ball is in the air. This will come in handy when the Cardinals reuse their style for next year, while adding new aspects to it as well. “We will have the same style, but with a different ‘wrinkle’ depending on whoever the Cardinals go up against next season on the field,” Chan said. “We stick to this style because it has worked for us in the past, and has given us our team’s identity. But, we need to work on our style so we’ll be in better positions to win. We need more reaction to the ball rather than doubt and thinking on the fly.”

Most Valuable Player

The Lowell has selected senior quarterback Antonio Hughes as the Most Valuable Player.

Hughes was a crucial part to the Cardinals’ game plan throughout the season, in all aspects. During the Battle of the Birds, Hughes switched between five different roles, including his normal role as a quarterback. “He’s a tough guy,” Chan said. “He’s fast, he goes after the ball. He’s good all-around.”

During this game, however, Hughes succumbed to one of the many dangers that comes along with playing football, and broke his collarbone. “I feel pretty sad, because it’s my senior year,” Hughes said after the Battle of the Birds. “Plus, I feel like I’m letting my team down.”

Hughes will try to recover over the winter, but is unsure whether he will play for Lowell’s baseball team or not.