TROY, NY (NEWS10) — The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Union College football teams wrap up their regular seasons Saturday afternoon in the annual Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game.
Last year’s matchup had a wild ending; the Engineers came back from down 10 points in the fourth quarter, and won on a walk-off field goal from fifth-year kicker Trevor Bisson. The victory claimed RPI the Liberty League regular season title, and earned the Engineers an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament.
There are no playoff implications in this year’s battle – both teams sit 6-3 on the year, and are looking up at Ithaca atop the Liberty League standings.
But after hearing the two head coaches speak at Thursday’s Dutchman Shoes Luncheon, that doesn’t appear to be drawing from the significance of the rivalry.
“As much as us coaches like to say, “Don’t circle that game on your schedule. Every game is important; every game is the same type of game,” I think we both know that this game is special,” said Engineers head coach Ralph Isernia. “(It’s special) for us, it’s special for our alums, and it’s one of those games that you remember for the rest of your life.”
“One of our seniors said last night after practice, “You’re guaranteed that game. You’re guaranteed that game,”” said Dutchmen head man Jeff Behrman. “So, yeah, it’s hard not to circle that (game). We certainly look forward to the challenge. 30 minutes apart, 100 guys on each team all wanting the same thing, and it’s gonna be exciting to watch that unfold.”
For the players, the opportunity to bring the Dutchman Shoes trophy back to their respective sideline, and end the regular season with some momentum has been a major motivating factor ahead of the game.
“It would be a really good feeling,” said Union senior running back Ike Irabor. “Yes, our last couple games were very tight losses, but we’re always right there to win that game. So, coming out with a win in this game would be outstanding…a special way to top off the year.”
“One thing we like to harp on as a program is “0-0, and one to go,”” said RPI senior slot receiver Peter Lombardi. “So, this is a one-game season this weekend. We’re looking to go 1-0 this week, and obviously putting a stamp on the end of the season. Taking the shoes, and putting them back in that case will be a good way to close it out.”
Saturday’s clash kicks off at noon at ECAV Stadium in Troy, NY. This will be the first time RPI has hosted the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game since 2018.