Senior running back Cooper Califano is cherishing his final weeks as a member of the Old Forge Blue Devil football team. Califano and his teammates are well aware of the win-or-go-home circumstances they find themselves in this late in the season. They got a big test this past Friday and succeeded with a 28-21 victory over Wellsboro to advance to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.
Califano rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns and also had four catches for 59 yards and a score. Here’s more from his ATHLETE OF THE WEEK interview:
Did you expect to come out Friday and have the type of performance that you did? I was expecting a good performance, but I didn’t think it would be as good as I did.
What was it like to be involved in a tight game like that, especially on a stage as big as the state playoffs? I think that’s going to help us a lot. Now we know that even though we know how good we play, we’re not going to roll over every team. It was a good lesson for us to pick up so we know what we could do next week to make it better.
What’s the season been like for this team, especially after that tough loss to Lake-Lehman in Week 4? We came into that Lehman game thinking we were going to win but then when we didn’t, we knew we had to prove to everybody that we were still the team that we were the past two years. It was a big reality check for us.
How have these past few weeks been, knowing you’re playing in win-or-go-home games? They’ve been crazy. Since Week 10, we’ve been playing every game like it’s our last because we know if you lose, then you go home. So we’ve just been fighting every week.
What is the team’s confidence level like now, especially after knowing you could win a close game like you did Friday night? We have a really big confidence in our team that we can make it really far. I think this is the most perfect time we could come together as a team because I think right now, we’re in our most dominant state that we’ve been in all season.
How special has the community support been? It’s crazy. When we walked out for that game Friday, we had our whole entire section filled with fans. They just give us a lot of motivation.