Holy Cross: Despite already being in the playoffs, Crusaders still have plenty to play for

If you thought the Holy Cross program would start resting guys or taking its collective foot off the gas now that its clinched a fourth straight Patriot League title, you haven’t been paying close attention.

Despite having another FCS playoff berth locked up, the No. 6 Crusaders still have plenty to play for in the final two games against Bryant and Georgetown. With the top eight seeds of the 24-team field getting a bye, Holy Cross has a legitimate opportunity to not only get a bye, but potentially host multiple playoff games. After hosting and winning a playoff game for the first time last season, that’s quite a nice carrot to dangle in front of players.

The prospect of an unbeaten season isn’t lost on the players or staff either, which means there will be no rest for the Crusaders.

“I think we’re fully focused on winning every game we play,” head coach Bob Chesney said during his weekly availability on Tuesday morning. “I think the purpose of that is that if we can win these next two, there’s a good shot we could end up with a bye. If we can win these next two, that’s like winning a first round playoff game, so it really is important that we continue to do what we’ve done.”

Chesney also pointed to the fact that his team ultimately had a bit of time off the way the schedule has worked out the last few weeks and halting any momentum by taking the foot off the gas wouldn’t benefit anyone at this point.

“The other thing I don’t want to do…we just talked about coming out of that bye week,” Chesney added. “Bucknell, bye week, into Lafayette. That’s 21 days of sort of lacking of competitive football. All of the sudden, you’re going to go ‘hey, these next two, you don’t really need them because you’re already in, let’s slow it all down and then when it really all matters let’s pick it all up,’ I don’t think you can do that.

“I think you’ve got to go when it’s time to go. We only play this game one way and I think that’s what we have to continue to do.”

Holy Cross may be fully locked in on finishing the regular season off the right way, but Chesney did also acknowledge the staff will look for scenarios to get some guys some rest while still looking at the bigger picture.

“Within that game, is there certain situations where we can keep people out of certain situations? Yeah, you can certainly do that,” said Chesney. “You can make sure you’re not doing some things when its a fourth and one or all on the line like you might before, do you need it at that moment? That’s things we’ll have to juggle, but as far as asking guys to slow down and take it easy, I don’t think it’ll be beneficial to us in the future.”

It’s always nice to clinch a championship with some room to spare, but does Chesney wish there was something more to play for these next two weeks?

“I think that’s what helps motivates guys at this stage,” Chesney said of a possible bye week still being out there. “We didn’t determine this schedule, but in the end Bryant is showing up this week and it’s just a weird time for a out of conference game. Usually, these are meaningful games at this moment – not that this isn’t meaningful because it is – but at the same time, it’s usually your conference slate at the back end of that season and every single play matters.

“We know we’re already in, but at the same time, this is about our preparation for that next step. That carrot that dangles is certainly if you win these next two, it’s maybe like you’ve won a first round playoff game and I think that’s enough.”