Player's Diary #3: Andrew Weininger

Badger commit Andrew Weininger, a 6-5, 305-pound senior from Harrison High School in New York, is considered one of the top offensive linemen in the nation. After committing to Wisconsin in early August, Weininger began writing a weekly column for The Journal News, a Gannett newspaper in Westchester County, NY. Weininger has been kind enough to share his columns with Badger Nation. Here is the third column written by Weininger, which was published on Sept. 13.

University of Wisconsin-bound all-state lineman Andrew Weininger of Harrison reflects on the Huskies' 27-24 season-opening loss Sunday, Sept. 8, to Rondout Valley at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.

I hate losing.

At Harrison, I have not experienced it very often. During my first three years on varsity our record was 28-4.

Losing never entered my mind going into our game Sunday night, Sept. 8, against Rondout Valley. Coach (Art) Troilo had told us how good they are and we had seen tape of them, but I think our team was blinded by everyone telling us how exceptionally good we are.

We entered last season off the radar screen. Everyone thought we were still in the post-Sammy Maldonado slump and no one thought we could beat Somers.

We knew we were a solid team and played every week like we had to prove something. In the Journal News poll last season, we were a distant second to Somers all season until the Section 1 championship when we beat them.

Now after our 27-24 loss (to Rondout Valley), we are 0-1 and have a lot to prove.

We learned that it doesn't matter how good people say you are, or how good you think you are. It matters how you perform and if you win or lose.

Everyone thought we were going to blow away Rondout. We got the ball first and instead of running over them as we had expected, they played tenacious defense and shut down our running game.

But, then in the second quarter, we turned the ball over three times leading to three Rondout touchdowns. We were in shock. This was not supposed to be happening.

But we held strong, driving 60 yards, before Rudy Arcara gave us life with a 1-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.

Being down at halftime is not an unusual predicament for our team. It was similar to our game versus Somers last year. We were down by two TDs, after playing bad football in the first half, and then came roaring back to win the section.

Against Rondout, we came out of the locker room fired up. We became more excited when they couldn't field our kickoff and Steve Burton recovered it at the 15. A few plays later, Rudy (Arcara) scored his second TD to to make it 21-13.

Our defense then stepped it up. We didn't allow a first down in the entire second half. On Rondout's next possession, Steve Burton returned an interception 33 yards to the Rondout 36. Six plays later, Luigi Rogliano had a 15-yard TD and Rudy added the two-point conversion to tie it at 21. Now it felt like Harrison football again.

With just over a minute left, Pete Kohlasch kicked a 38-yard field goal to give us the lead.

It appeared to be over, but we couldn't close the deal, giving up a long touchdown pass with just 40 seconds left in the game.

The loss really hurt. But, luckily, the game has no bearing on our season (as far as sectional seeding is concerned). We wanted a test and we got it.

Even though we lost, we showed a lot of character in coming back from a 21-point deficit.

Also, our defense only gave up two first downs the entire game. But, our offense was not nearly where it should be and our defense gave up too many big plays.

Hopefully our loss was a blessing in disguise.

In 1998, we lost our opening game to Brewster then came back to beat them and go to the state championship.

In 2000, Edgemont lost its first game of the season and then won the state championship.

And last year, Greeley got blown out by Somers and then went on to Syracuse (for the state finals).

We have a lot to prove. We have the talent to win the state championship. How hard we work will determine how far we go.

I hate losing. Our team hates losing. Hopefully our experience last Sunday will drive us all to get better and make sure it doesn't happen again.

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