Coming off a bridesmaid finish last season, the Blazers want the gold more than ever.
With the football season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coming up, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Men’s football team will be kicking off the tournament on Friday, Nov. 24, versus the Mapua Institute Technology (MIT) Cardinals.
Because of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury last September, team captain Valentino Calvo will no longer be playing, hence the Blazers hit a roadblock before this season even started. However, with veterans Jake Vicen, Dean Ebarle, and Renz Tulayba, the Blazers are keeping their hopes up as Tulayba, the new team captain, will be filling in Calvo’s shoes.
“Since most of us will be playing our last season for the school, as a team we really want to get the championship this season. Also, since Val (Calvo) won’t get to play in his last NCAA [season] for CSB due to [an] injury, we want to dedicate this season to him,” Ebarle, a key player in Benilde’s bridesmaid finish last season, said.
Meanwhile, when asked who is their biggest threat this season, Vicen did not hesitate to namedrop rival school San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions, who snatched the championship last year via a (1-0) win.
“It will always be San Beda. We fell short last season and we are looking forward to go against them again. We just need to be on the same page and have the same mindset all throughout the season and the result will just follow,” he said.
However, the Blazers won’t be facing the Red Lions until December 15. Still, the Taft squad is on a mission to start the tournament as smoothly as possible when they go up against MIT, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (UPHSD), Lyceum University, and Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) to begin the season.
“Our number one goal this season is to lift that trophy at the end of the tournament but we just can’t say that right away. There goes a saying “it’s easier said than done,” all of the teams are preparing and their focus is to win the championship too. We just have to follow the game plan and apply it and play every game as if it’s a championship game,” Vicen, who is the team’s goalkeeper, added.
Even without Eddie Velizano, the team is still dominated by versatile veterans. The Blazers will be banking on skills and experience on the field, as well as new blood, Earl Laguerta.
“I can’t tell the weakness of the other teams because I know every team in the NCAA has worked very hard. But I think us (CSB) will have an advantage in terms of team chemistry kasi konti lang nawala sa amin from last season and ‘yung mga nawala may replacements naman. But we can only use our advantage in team chemistry if we will follow and respect the game plan of our coaches,” Ebarle said.
The Blazers will open the season versus the MIT Cardinals this Friday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium Football Field.
Photo by Yves Publico