Wait for PFL Play Before Judging Marist Football

Brock Bagozzi stepped up in the pocket and heaved a deep ball to a streaking Glenmour Leonard-Osbourne. The multi-sport athlete was open, but his quarterback woefully underthrew the pass, leading to an easy Columbia interception.

Instead of trying to make a tackle on the ensuing return, Bagozzi stood there and watched. As the Columbia defender practically strolled into the endzone to make it 37-0, you could tell that he had thrown in the towel.

Perhaps Marist head coach Jim Parady sensed the lack of effort, yanking Bagozzi for backup Diego Arroyo on the next series and allowed his second-stringer to play the rest of the second half in a game that had been decided by the end of the first quarter.

There’s no sugarcoating how bad Marist has looked through its first two games. The Red Foxes followed up a 43-12 season-opening loss to Georgetown with a heavy 38-3 defeat to Columbia on Saturday night. Through two home games against non-conference opponents, Marist has been outscored 81-15 and outgained 805-507.

We could go on to list more stats (like the fact that the Red Foxes only have 103 rushing yards this season), but it’s pretty simple: Marist is an ugly 0-2.

It seems pretty cut and dry. The Red Foxes must be pretty bad, right?

So far, yes. Even the biggest optimist would struggle to take any positives from the first few weeks of the season. A combination of poor quarterback play, a non-existent run game, an exhausted defense, and special teams miscues make it impossible to win.

But there is one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy sky. Marist has its next eight games against conference opponents. Ordinarily, that might not be great news, but the Red Foxes will not be at the same talent disadvantage that they had to deal with in their first two games.

For those unfamiliar with the jumbled, nonsensical conference that is the Pioneer Football League, it proudly boasts on its website that it’s “the nation’s only non-scholarship, football-only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conference.”

This poorly funded league is full of FCS football misfits like Marist, who have football teams but mainly reside in conferences that don’t sponsor the sport. Now, PFL athletes aren’t exactly paying full tuition, but many do have to foot some of the bill, unlike in most other Division I conferences.

This leads to a disparity between the PFL and other FCS conferences. Just look at the scores from this past week.

Princeton 39, Stetson 14

Dayton 46, Kentucky State 3 

Dartmouth 35, Valparaiso 13 

Idaho 42, Drake 14 

Western Carolina 77, Presbyterian 21 

Columbia 38, Marist 3 

Morehead State 49, Kentucky Christian 14 

South Dakota State 45, Butler 17

*PFL teams in bold

The only two PFL teams that won on Saturday faced non-Division I competition. The other six all lost and lost heavily, falling by an average of 32.3 points (Presbyterian ignominiously lost by 56), with two more teams also losing to Ivy League opponents.

Drake, who the Red Foxes visit this coming week, has been whacked by North Dakota State and Idaho and more embarrassingly, lost at home to Division II Missouri S&T. If Marist is unable to get the job done in Iowa, then that should set off alarm bells.

Through three weeks, the PFL has just one win against Division I competition, Dayton’s 22-20 win over Robert Morris in week one. Considering this, it’s obvious that Marist, and other PFL sides, have been David’s smaller, scrawnier brothers in two matchups against relative goliaths.

Schools like Columbia and Georgetown are not traditional FCS football powers. But at Tenney Stadium, each looked like a juggernaut when compared to the Red Foxes. Still, fans must realize that every other school in the PFL has to deal with the same problem as teams around the league struggle to keep games against other Division I teams respectable.

Marist football should begin to fare better when it takes to the PFL. That’s been the case in seasons past, as they’ve been .500 or better in conference play in all but one season since 2013.

That’s not to completely absolve Marist of all the blame. The Red Foxes haven’t finished better than fourth place since they went 7-1 in league play in 2013. Marist is a prisoner of circumstance in the PFL where it’s been painfully unable to find real success for several years.

So, all we know about this edition of the Red Foxes is that they can’t stack up in out-of-conference games. But we already had that knowledge. Let’s allow Marist to take on some opponents in its weight class before passing too much judgment on them.

Edited by Ricardo Martinez

Author: Jonathan Kinane

I'm a senior from Syracuse, NY, studying sports communication and journalism. I consider myself a die-hard Syracuse University sports fan, but I also follow the Knicks, Giants, and Yankees in the professional ranks. Sports and writing have long been my passions and I am excited for another year with Center Field.

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