Brothers for life.
That was more than the motto for the 2017 Fayetteville-Manlius football team. That was what kept players motivated to get onto the practice field on the hot, August days and on the wet, October days that signalled that summer was over.
The band of brothers gave its community a lot to celebrate about this fall. But what defines this team isn’t what people saw on Friday nights — what defines this team is all of those practices where the stands were empty.
And the phrase that motivated them at the beginning of the year was the same thing that described the guys and their attitudes at the end of the season, when adversity struck and injuries were ready to be used as excuses and they thought they had the first down, but an official changed the spot of the ball, resulting in a turnover on downs and a deflated Hornets team.
That loss knocked them out of the playoffs, but didn’t ruin the legacy that this season leaves behind. A week later, the Hornets beat Utica Proctor in a consolation game to finish the season off with a 5-4 overall, and a 4-2 league, record.
Andrew Testani, a captain for the Hornets, touched on that while reflecting on his senior season. “This was the most fun I’ve had playing football in years and I know I’ll look back on it and be happy with the memories I made. It was a great group of guys and I have actual brothers for life, ” Testani said, “I feel like we were closer than teams in the past. We did more off-the-field bonding.”
Testani’s experience with the culture that head coach Paul Muench creates came in handy when leading the team. He got the sideline ready to explode in enthusiasm whenever he had the chance.
He teamed up with fellow captains Tyler Powell and Tim Shaw to keep the team united. Whether the three of them were on or off the field, healthy or injured, pleased with how things were going or frustrated with what they saw, they always brought enthusiasm to the table.
Powell pointed to that, among other things, when talking about the reasons this season was successful. He was most proud of the unity that the team showed and the relationships that were built throughout the season.
“These guys mean the world to me and I wouldn’t want a different bunch of guys to play with. We knew that football took teamwork, but it’s not just football that brought us together. It’s the fact that we really did want to be around each other,” Powell said.
Powell finished by saying, “we truly were a bunch of brothers just playing a game in the backyard.”