Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.
The fledgling freshmen of fall 2018 and fall 2019 are now preparing to leave the nest and take flight as only Orediggers can.
During its Nov. 4 Senior Day game, the Colorado School of Mines football team recognized 31 seniors, including 17 sixth-year players who used their extra year of eligibility from COVID-19.
The Orediggers then proceeded to demolish the visiting New Mexico Highlands Cowboys 77-3, to win at least a share of the 2023 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title and tie the 2022 seniors for the winningest senior class.
Mines, now 10-0 overall and 8-0 in conference play, looks to win the RMAC title outright Nov. 11 at Fort Lewis. After that, the No. 1-ranked Orediggers will prepare for another run at the NCAA Division II national title.
“Let’s go all the way,” senior outside linebacker Nolan Reeve said.
Reeve and his fellow seniors described how many of them returned for the 2023 season because they believe in the program and its potential. Their senior class has been defined by passion, dedication and commitment, they said.
“We wanted to come back and finish what we started,” Reeve continued, alluding to last year’s run to the national title game.
The Orediggers lost to reigning champs Ferris State 41-14, but are hoping to return this year and win the program’s first-ever national championship. And, as the seniors described, they have the momentum and the experience to do it.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, and a lot of chemistry and experience together,” Marlatt said.
Petty added: “The team’s in a really good spot. Everybody’s super-committed to our goal. I think it’s going to be a really fun postseason.”
Time flies, don’t it?
The three seniors, all of whom joined Mines and redshirted in fall 2018, thought the Nov. 4 Senior Day game was a fun day.
Petty was happy to see so many of the younger players rotate in during the second half, and Reeve said the Orediggers’ standards didn’t drop even when the second- and third-string players took over.
“It was a great team win all-around,” Reeve continued.
As for the Senior Day ceremony, the three described it as a mix of surreal and bittersweet. Reeve contemplated how much the seniors had grown from when they joined as freshmen in 2018 and 2019.
“Some of us still think it’s unbelievable — the progress we’ve made,” he said.
With Reeve, Petty, Marlatt and others graduating this fall, the seniors said they’d miss seeing their teammates every day.
But, Petty was looking forward to starting a new chapter of his life in 2024, and Marlatt was confident the senior Orediggers would stay in touch after going their separate ways.
Marlatt’s taking an inventory management job in Houston, which he starts in March. Meanwhile, Petty has received job offers in Colorado and Texas, but said he’s still undecided on what he wants to do.
Among their favorite moments at Mines, Marlatt enjoyed his mechanical engineering senior project. He and 26 classmates rebuilt a truck “from the ground up” over the course of a year, and then raced it in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
Petty and Reeve both said last year’s NCAA semifinal game against Shepherd was “the coolest football atmosphere I’ve ever played in,” as Petty described it. Marv Kay Stadium was absolutely packed, and Reeve said the “eruption of the crowd” and the feeling it invoked was “almost unmatched.”
Reeve, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2021, said he and many of his fellow seniors decided to use all their eligibility because Mines is such a special place.
“We all love this program,” he continued. “We wouldn’t be here for our fifth and sixth years if we didn’t.”
Marlatt added: “Everybody could’ve left by now (and) gotten jobs, but we all wanted to stay.”
Petty emphasized the seniors’ commitment not just to the general program, but to each other as well. He said they don’t want any personal recognition — they just want to win together.
“I love you guys,” Petty said, addressing his fellow seniors. “It’s been a blast. I’m super-excited for the rest of the season.”
Whatever awaits them in the postseason, on graduation day and beyond, the 2023 seniors will undoubtedly let that Oredigger spirit carry them and fly right into the future.
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