Football seniors compete at national level

Three seniors from the Norwich University football team have been given the special opportunity to showcase their talents at the national level after the regular football season ends.

Senior co-captains Sean Southworth and Matt Simonelli, along with senior running back Danny Triplett, have been selected to play in two different All-Star games.

These games will be played in December and January with Southworth’s have already taken place on Pearl Harbor day. He left for Virginia last week, while Simonelli and Triplett have been selected to play in the Dream Bowl in Roanoke, Virginia on Jan. 21.

“It’s honestly a great honor to go play in this game and represent Norwich and show the hard work our team is all about,” said Triplett, 22, a criminal justice major from Haverhill, Mass. “I am very thankful for this opportunity for our team and I thank God for making it capable.”

Southworth in all-star game

Southworth, second from left, after his all-star game in Salem, Va.
Photo: Susan Southworth

Simonelli echoed Triplett’s statement and said that he cannot wait to play one more game with his longtime teammate.

“I’m really excited to pad up with Triplett one more time,” said Simonelli, 21, an engineering major from Scituate, R.I. “He is a great football player and one of the toughest people I have ever gone against the whole season.”

The Dream Bowl is a game that showcases talent from every level of college football and gives athletes a chance to try and extend their playing career. The game is loaded with scouts that could potentially reward any of the players for their hard work.

“On a personal note I wish to further my football career on a professional level,” said Triplett. “I’m tired of hearing that DIII athletes don’t have what it takes and I would like to hurt some doubters in this game.”

“To play with Simonelli is perfect. I’m excited we get to share this memory together and go to war one last time, or maybe several more times!” he said. “Simonelli is a brother to me and I’m proud of his accomplishments.”

While the two will be participating in this game as teammates, fellow teammate Southworth has already participated in the Div. III, Senior Classic North South Game, on Dec. 7, which featured the best talent that Div. III football has to offer throughout the country. (The south won by a score of 37 to 21.)

Simonelli scores

Simonelli scoring a defensive touchdown this season.
Photo: Sheridan Steniner

“I am playing on the North team and it features players from all over the country,” said Southworth, 21, a business administration major from Exeter, N.H. “The game features players from Vermont and stretches as far as the most talented guys in California, who will be playing in the game.”

Southworth stated that he does not know how he got picked for the game but that head coach, Mark Murnyack, received an e-mail notifying him that he was chosen to play in this event. It is nothing new for Norwich, as former All-American kicker Long Ding was selected to compete in this same game last year.

“Ding played in it last year and he said it was a great experience to see all the talent from across the country,” Southworth said. “I wanted to get an insider view on the game and see what it was like to play with a bunch of guys I’ve never played with before.”

While he won’t be going on the same battlefield as his two former teammates, Southworth said that he is incredibly proud of his two teammates and on their selection to the Dream Bowl.

“It’s awesome to see two guys I’ve been playing football with the past four years get recognized nationally to play at this high of a level,” Southworth said. “It is great for all of us to have an opportunity to play at least one more game of meaningful football.”

All three players agreed that this game is more about how far the Norwich football program has come in the past few years than about their individual accomplishments. They are going to represent Norwich in the best way possible.

Danny Triplett

Danny Triplett on the field.
Photo: Sheridan Steniner

“I hope to gain respect for Norwich on a national level,” Triplett said. “We are an up-and-coming program and everyone’s hard work and sacrifice does not deserve to go unnoticed.”

Simonelli agreed with his teammate and said that the trip the three players are making to Virginia shows that Norwich is gaining more and more national exposure.

“It is a big honor to have three members of our team to be able to represent Norwich at an all-star game,” he said. “It shows that Norwich football is getting national recognition and it can only go up from here.”

While some players have a higher goals then to just compete in these games, Southworth is just grateful for the opportunity to play one last game against the best competition in the country and to see where he stacks up against them.

“I hope to get to learn about playing football at a higher level and to see what it takes to get there,” he said. “It’s going to be a good experience to see the best players across the country and see how I stack up against them.”

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