Today, ETBU’s football team will play its first home game since Nov. 9, 2019.
The Tigers would have preferred to play in the fall but since that didn’t happen they’re looking to make the most out what they do have.
“I’m just trying to make the best of it with COVID and everything,” ETBU senior offensive lineman Kaylon Bruno said. “I’m still here, diving, surviving. We’ve been practicing hard non-stop since they shut us down last semester. It was a relief to make it back to the game. Once we got on the field, it was good to turn it on and actually be able to play full speed and not hit somebody that was in the same colors as us.
“It definitely sucked seeing Division I football going on and my hometown high school was still playing,” Bruno added. “When we found out we got shut down, it was a shocker to most of us but we’re definitely happy to get back to it and get back into the swing of things.”
One thing that the Tigers believe will help make this season a success is unity.
“We have this motto that we go by – ‘henotace’ – it’s in the Bible and it means unity among each other,” Bruno explained.
“We’ve been henotace since day one,” ETBU head football coach Brian Mayper said. “If we’re unified everything runs smoothly.”
As a senior, Bruno has taken it upon himself to help lead and help make sure the team stays united.
“I’m just a people person, a team player,” he offered. “I don’t look at myself as above or below anybody else. I try to be relatable and I try to coach up the guys when they’re slacking and take whatever criticism I need whenever I’m slacking.”
That’s the type of mentality one must have in order to be successful as an offensive lineman.
“It was just instilled in me at an early age,” Bruno said. “Football is the ultimate team sport so nothing good would happen if one piece goes wrong. You’ve got to work as a unit, as a well oiled machine. So there’s a bunch of parts. You don’t necessarily get stats as a receiver when you block but it’s still extremely important, vital.”
Being an offensive lineman can be a thankless job where players of other positions are often the ones who get the stats and glory. Bruno said he loves providing the blocks for that enable his team’s offense to be successful.
“Most of the time I don’t even notice until afterwards,” Bruno said. “I’ll be locked into the block. I remember this past week actually, first play of the game, I get locked onto a block and I end up pancaking the guy. I’m on ground and I roll over and see Bailey’s (Badeaux) number is 15 yards downfield. It’s a really good feeling but it’s one of those hindsight things. Sometimes you don’t even notice until after, like in the film room or something like that.”
Bruno didn’t start playing football until his freshman year of high school but in his time playing, he has learned valuable life lessons he’ll take with him even after he’s done playing.
“Never give up,” Bruno said. “Things are going to seem tough regardless. I had coach in high school who said football is the greatest game in the world because it’s literally life within 100 yards. You’re going to see ups. You’re going to see downs. There will be things that don’t go your way but in the end, you’ve still got to pursue victory and pursue greatness. I feel like that applies on and off the field.”
“Work ethic and stability,” Mayper said when asked what Bruno brings to the table. “He’s one you can count on.”
Today, Bruno and his Tigers will play their home opener against Belhaven.
“Just eliminating the mistakes we made last week,” Mayper said was the key to coming away with a victory today. “I thought we did really well last week but we left a lot of points on the field that we could control ourselves. Then we gave up some things and should have stopped them from scoring. So just really eliminating mistakes and capitalizing off theirs.”
“They kind of run a different defense than we’re used to seeing but I feel like we have a game plan in place to absolutely claim victory,” Bruno said.
Today’s game is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff at ETBU’s Ornelas Stadium.