If there is any team in the nation this season who can respect every side of the spectrum of a college ultimate season it is Jojah Ultimate. The Dawgs have been on top and they have been at the bottom. They have gone from being declared contenders for the National Championship to being declared one of the most overrated teams on the college scene.
The rumors that Jojah was overrated came after the Dawgs, on the heels of a finals appearance at Florida Warm Up and rolling most their competition at Queen City Tune Up, went 0-7 at The Stanford Invite.
Then, as a result of inclement weather, the Dawgs missed a chance to get back on their feet when Sunday action was rained out at College Terminus after Jojah had gotten out to a 4-1 start on Saturday. Although the Dawgs did not finish perfect at College Easterns in Wilmington, N.C. they forced their way into playing for fifth after a loss to eventual tournament runner-up, Virginia.
Finally Georgia would get one last shot at some of the Nationals competitors that gave it such a hard time at The Stanford Invite. UGA traveled to St. Louis for Huck Finn, Cultimate’s final regular season tournament. The Dawgs could not conquer the national field as once again they left a Cultimate tournament less than satisfied with their performance. The Dawgs went 2-5, with all five losses coming against UPA and NUMP Top 15 competition.
As a result of a drama and disappointment filled season UGA is coming into the GA/SC Sectionals ready to play.
“The good thing about the position we are in right now is that I really don’t have to do all that much to get our team motivated,” senior Peter Dempsey wrote us in an e-mail. “We have so much recently that all our guys are just ready to win. We don’t care who it is, we just want to beat the pants off of any team that will play us right now.”
With that confidence comes a little bit of wisdom from the UGA player who has seen his team fall out of the UPA Top 25 and put up twice as many losses at this point in the season than the Jojah team that went to college Nationals last year did all of last season.
“If there is anything that our team has learned in the past six weeks, it is that we can be beat by anyone and any time,” Dempsey said. “As far as I’m concerned, we are always at risk for a loss if we don’t play our game.”
The Dawgs are the only team in the GA/SC section that are ranked in the NUMP Top 20 and the only team in the section that has been in the UPA Top 25 all season. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that it is almost a forgone conclusion that Jojah will be moving on to Regionals at the end of this weekend. However, the Dawgs travel to Columbia, S.C. as the tournament No. 1 seed and Dempsey realizes that’s as good as bringing a set of neon letters that say, “You won’t beat us.”
“We certainly expect to make it to Regionals,” Dempsey said. “But again, we realize now that nothing is going to be handed to us. Whenever you are the No. 1 seed at any tournament, you have a target on your back. Everyone wants to take down No. 1. That’s us this weekend and we have to be ready for it.”
It’s clear that Dempsey is refusing to allow his team suffer from the same problems that plagued them earlier this season.
“Having as much early season success as we did was great,” Dempsey said. “But I really think it made us a little overconfident. When you get in that kind of mentality and you start thinking that wins are just going to ‘happen’ you forget that the best teams get better as the season goes on. Having confidencee and a swagger can be good but only if you put in the work to back it up.”
Dempsey is now confident that the individual players on his team have put in that work and effort to perform at Sectionals.
Among the players Dempsey mentioned were senior Taylor Nilan, senior Tom Morris and the Herrig brothers. (ed. note: At Florida Warm Up we saw Nilan make a layout catch D then proceed to stand up, throw a high release flick fake that was so nasty that the mark called “up” and turned around to follow the play. Whereupon Nilan realized he couldn’t breathe because his layout had knocked the wind out of him. He proceeded to call injury and walk off the field. Sick? To say the least.)
“On defense, Taylor Nilan has been playing extremley well this year,” Dempsey said. “He’ll be the unquestionable leader on us for D this weekend.”
“On offense, the guy to watch is Tom Morris. He is a freak athlete and quite frankly is unstoppable as a cutter. (Senior) Rob and (sophomore) Charlie Herrig are vital to the offense as well … When those two are working together, it’s sick.”
Georgia will be resting several players this weekend, including Dempsey in preparation for a run to Nationals.
While the season has been a long one, Dempsey and presumably much of the rest of Jojah’s roster are happy with where they are in the mind of the ultimate community.
“Honestly, I kind of like it that people are counting us out (of the running for a National title),” Dempsey said. “We’re underdogs now and we know it. We know that we have something to prove, and I like that.”