College Football: Flyers host Marist on Senior Day

It’s something every football player will face in his career — the time when there are no more games to play.

That emotion will hit 19 seniors Saturday at Welcome Stadium when the Dayton Flyers host Marist in the home finale at 1 p.m.

While the Flyers will have one more game, Nov. 18 at Valparaiso after a bye week, the light at the end of the tunnel is hard to ignore.

“Yeah, it’s a big game,” senior linebacker Jack Crain said. “All of the seniors have put in a lot of work in the past four and five years. It means a lot to play the last game in front of our home crowd … it definitely means something special.”

Crain is one of four fifth-year seniors this season, fewer than years past.

Fourteen of the other 15 seniors honored Saturday have used their redshirt years and can come back and play next season.

The only true senior without that option is Christian Searles. The preseason All-American is the rare UD player who has started all four years he’s been with the program.

Senior Day is never an easy game for Flyers coach Rick Chamberlin. This will be the 10th time he has sent off an outgoing class.

“It’s hard shaking their hands,” Chamberlin said. “Sort of like this is my son that’s leaving home now. That’s tough, but we know we have a purpose out here on Saturday and that’s for us to win a football game.”

Coming back for a fifth year is no big deal for a player at a scholarship program, but at Dayton the burden to pay for another season falls on the parents.

Among the seniors with a decision to make is quarterback Alex Jeske. The three-year starter missed the first five games this season with a broken foot.

“It’s something I’m definitely thinking about,” Jeske said. “I obviously have to talk to my family and the school and figure those things out.”

Flyer seniors and their parents will be honored before the game, and at halftime one player will win the Lt. Andy Zulli trophy. That is a character-driven award, the most prestigious honor in the program. Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden won it when he was a backup quarterback for the Flyers.

Scouting report: Dayton (4-5, 3-3) welcomes a Marist team that should be well rested. The Red Foxes (3-5. 2-3) are coming off a bye and, like the Flyers, are trying to win out to guarantee a winning season.

Dayton owns a 7-1 edge in the series. The Flyers won 59-31 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., last season. Dayton will look for a fourth straight win over Marist.

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