TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Last year, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team featured a combined 42 seniors and super-seniors, which made up one-third of the roster. That number is down to 20 for the 2023 season.

Head coach Ralph Isernia will have to roll out a slew of new faces this year, but he believes fans can expect the same brand of hard-nose football that’s become characteristic of the Engineers.

“RPI guys are special; they’re a different breed,” said Isernia. “They’ve got a great mentality for this game of football. I don’t think they’re (the fans) gonna see anything different from our guys. They’re gonna see the love; they’re gonna see the joy and passion that our guys bring every single day when they’re playin’ with each other. As a coach, you love to see that.”

The Engineers are coming off an 8-3 campaign, where they finished second in the Liberty League with a 5-1 conference mark. They were anchored by a stifling defense that ranked first in the league in scoring average, allowing less than 10 points per game.

Isernia admitted last year’s squad was an anomaly with its’ wealth of experience, but he’s very encouraged by what he’s seen from the younger crop of players during training camp.

“The competition level has been really high. From a coach’s standpoint, you love nothing better than guys who are competing and hungry to get a starting job. To see them take the next step in their maturity and in their leadership – then, all of a sudden, their production on the field – that’s been nice to see so far in camp.”

RPI opens the year in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on Sep. 2 for its’ first-ever trip to Dickinson College.