Warriors refocus following bye week as Utah looks to turn season around
HERRIMAN — A 2-6 record and a bye week leads to a lot of reflection and hopefully galvanization for any team, and is certainly the case for the Utah Warriors.
The Warriors return to action this Friday when they travel to take on Old Glory DC in hopes of improving their inconsistent play while making a legitimate bid to compete for the rest of the MLR season.
It won’t be easy given the 2-6 hole they’ve dug for themselves, although players remain hopeful.
“Running the table is possible. It’s going to be very difficult, but there’s no doubt that it’s possible,” said Warriors team captain and MLR MVP Mikey Te’o. “I’ve been part of teams that have rallied and made tough seasons into winning ones.”
What Te’o perhaps hasn’t been a part of is a team that has undergone so many changes. Consistent roster additions, untimely injuries to key players on top of the dismissal of head coach Shawn Pittman following the loss to the San Diego Legion has been challenging to say the least.
But there’s nowhere to go but up in Te’o’s mind.
“The motif this entire season has been constant adjustment,” Te’o said. “It has to click some time, and whether it’s going to click this next game, the one after, or even the last game of the season — it has to click some time.”
While taking wins and doing to improbable record-wise is certainly a focus, Te’o has been diligent in helping lend another focus for himself and his teammates this week.
“It’s tough, but you try to keep perspective and think about what we’re going to look back on 10 or even 20 years from now,” Te’o said. “We’re not going to know our record, but we’re going to hopefully look back on how we met the challenge and worked to get better. I feel this is going to be a good learning curve for all of us and our future.”
Te’o isn’t alone in his resolve, with fellow team captain Bailey Wilson taking the same line of thought while grabbing more of a leadership mantle during the bye week.
“Everyone’s had to step up a bit with the new changes,” Wilson said. “…We try to keep the boys together with all the changes, which can be a challenge. But as long as we stay tight as a group we’ll be alright.”
Old Glory is a team that has seen a lot of struggles this season as well, leading to an 0-9 start that should find them a bit desperate and dangerous come Friday.
“They’re 0-8 right now, but they’ve been putting up a good fight against teams,” Wilson said. “It’s not going to be an easy game and we know they’ll be coming after us.”
Injuries will be an issue this week, with star players Paul Lasike and Niall Saunders expected to miss action, among others.
But little of the focus for the Warriors is on DC this week, knowing that most of the issues this season have been self-inflicted. As mentioned, inconsistent play and unforced errors have played a big role in the Warriors’ current state, with Te’o and his teammates confident great play is ahead of them should those issues be cleaned up.
“It’s like a beautiful firework goes off and then disappears. That’s how it sometimes feels for us,” Te’o said. “We need to get to where those flashes last longer and lead to more conversions and then wins.”
Wilson is confident those issues will be a thing of the past despite all the changes the team has undergone, beginning this Friday.
“There’s a lot of new faces in the lineup, but the boys are hungry,” Wilson said. “We’re fresh, we’re eager, and we’re just ready to rip into DC.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. OLD GLORY DC
Date: Friday, April 15
Time: 6:00 PM MDT
Where: Segra Field, Leesburg, Virginia
Broadcast: KMYU, The Rugby Network, NBCSW
Radio: ESPN 700 and ESPN 960
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