His best friend, Jeremy Lipsky, takes his place at his side.
Tony Valentino and Matt Doyle brace themselves – they’re ready to attack their prey with relentless effort like a raging bull seeing red. Even the tight ends, consisting of Matt Levine, Tanner Jillson, David Mikos, share this intensity, the hunger to get after it.
There’s more of them on the sideline – Sean Foster. Shamar Martin. Andrew Iverson. Sam Nelson. Julien Nunez.
The ball is snapped and the lines collide with thuds, grunts and shoves.
An offensive lineman rears up and, with a mighty effort, pushes his defender backwards. The opposing tackle lands on his back facing upward, staring at the sky above.
He looks like an upside-down cockroach.
Every Thursday before a game, the Roach will sit at a high table reserved for players and coaches. It’s Fat Night, the perfect time to bulk up by inhaling burgers and wings.
Everyone’s orders are usually called in the night before and prepared the following morning. The food is always ready by the time they arrive at roughly 6:30 p.m.
“All our regulars are like, ‘Oop, the football team is coming,’ because we have all the tables set up,” says Dawn Kelly, a waitress at Sophia’s. “And we love them because everyone is so friendly and we have so many regulars that probably know half the guys now. It’s fun, they bring a fun atmosphere.”
For the past 32 years, this has been the system, as told by the multitude of framed pictures wrapping across the far wall depicting generations upon generations of Roaches. With another old framed Springfield College banner hanging above the archway to the conjoined pizzeria, the institution has left its mark.
Across the room is another table of players – the Larvae, those who haven’t quite made full Roach certification yet. There’s a system of voting in members as well as when reviewing film. Depending on the performance of a lineman, they may be deemed a “full Roach” or a “half Roach,” not to be confused with “Iron Roach” and “King Roach” of course.