Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock has been around the game of football too long to look at recent scores and make judgments.
So even though Lycoming, his team’s opponent this afternoon in Williamsport, is coming off a loss in which it scored just two points and his Colonels are riding high after scoring 41 in a victory, he knows a tough game is looming.
“I’m looking more at a team that the last two years was really able to push us around and dominate us on the line of scrimmage and that’s more my concern,” Sheptock said. “I’ve been in this league too long to look at one Lycoming score and think that ‘wow they’re different.’ They’re not different. It wasn’t their day, and history will show they’ll bounce back strong.”
Lycoming was playing its first game of the season last week without linebacker Kabongo Bukasa, who is the MAC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. The senior and a pair of other defensive starters for the Warriors sat out the team’s opener with injuries.
The defensive unit gave Wilkes fits last year in similar situations as the Colonels entered with one of the top rushing games in the MAC and Lycoming entered with the best rushing defense. That weighed heavily in Lycoming’s favor.
This time around, it’s a challenge Sheptock is anticipating.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “We’ve been working very hard. I think our kids are ready for the challenge. I’m definitely looking to see if we made some strides in the offseason, which we believe we have. But you have to go out there and prove it.”
Wilkes (1-0, 0-0) at Lycoming (0-1, 0-0)
When: 1 p.m. today at David Person Field, Williamsport
Last Week: Wilkes defeated Morrisville State 41-26, while Lycoming lost to Brockport 30-2
Last meeting: The Warriors dominated Wilkes last season winning 38-7. Lycoming has won the last two times in the series following three straight wins by Wilkes.
Wilkes player to watch:Freshman wide receiver David Claybrook, who had just two receptions for 19 yards in last week’s victory, but will have to be targeted more often this week against a notorious stingy Lycoming defense.
Lycoming player to watch: Senior linebacker Kabongo Bukasa is the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year after racking up 70 tackles, one sack, four pass break-ups and three interceptions in helping the Warriors to the best defense in the MAC a year ago allowing just 12.4 points per game. He will be making his season debut today.
Colonel’s team leaders: RB Paul Martin 78 yards, 3 TD; QB Tyler Bernsten 103 yards, 1 TD, 2int; TE Drew Devitt 2 rec, 62 yards, TD; LB Tate Moore-Jacobs 14 tackles; DB Omar Richardson, D.J. Shuttleworth 1int; DL Rob Houseknecht 1 sack.
Warriors team leaders: RB Craig Needhammer 87 yards; QB Tyler Jenny 144 yards, 0TD, 2int; WR Matt Atkinson 9 rec, 79 yards; LB Tyler Denike 11 tackles; DT Dwight Hentz 1 sack; DB Tanner Troutman, Mike Ciotti 1 int.
Wilkes will win if: Its passing can get going and compliment the running game. The Warriors have a very stingy rush defense so being able to throw will go a long way.
Lycoming will win if: Three starters returning to the lineup on defense are the difference-makers and show that last week’s game was a fluke and the unit is still top-notch.
What to know: Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock has a 9-8 career record against Lycoming, while Warriors coach Mike Clark is 2-3 against the Colonels.