TROY, N.Y. – Grant Tragni, a 2016 Somers High School graduate, was recently named captain of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team.
RPI, which competes in Division III, is considered one of the top engineering colleges in the nation. What people might not know is it also has a pretty darned good football program.
Fittingly nicknamed the Engineers, RPI has captured the Liberty League conference title two of the last three seasons. Last year, RPI advanced to the Elite 8 of the Division III playoffs. Finishing with a 10-2 record, they were ranked near the Top 10 in most end-of-year polls.
This year, Tragni said, RPI is “looking for our third title in four years. We’ve been to the postseason for three years straight. We have a great head coach (Ralphi Isernia). He’s really building a great program.”
Tragni, a senior, is an inside linebacker who mostly played special teams until this year. He was voted captain by his teammates.
“I always try and bring a lot energy to the team and always try to encourage them a lot,” he said.
Before coming to RPI, he played quarterback for Somers.
“Just playing football in general taught me so many different life lessons,” like hardwork and discipline,” Tragni said.
It’s often said that players who make smart decisions on the field have a “high football IQ.” The players at RPI just have high IQs.
“We have some really smart people,” he said.
That intelligence certainly translates into smart football, Tragni said. For example, in certain situations, the Engineers preach batting down passes instead of trying to intercept them. A lot of focus is also put on time management.
Tragni said he doesn’t have expectations for the 2019 season. In fact, at the time of this interview, he hadn’t even thought about RPI’s first-week opponent (Allegheny College on Sept. 7).
“When you’re driving that night, you don’t think about the destination,” he said. “You think about the next 200 feet because that’s all your headlights can see.”
Tragni doesn’t even take it one day at a time; he takes it one play at a time.
The focus for the Engineers is to win every play.
“You win enough plays, you win games,” Tragni said.
Tragni is currently studying industrial and management engineering. He will then study quantitative finance risk analytics in RPI’s graduate program.