The worst loss in school history is not talked about by Wilkes anymore.
That 90-0 embarrassment at the hands of Widener was a year ago this weekend. But all it is now for the team is an afterthought when the teams meet on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Schmidt Stadium for the first time since then.
To make sure his team isn’t looking back, Colonels coach Frank Sheptock met with team leaders and captain earlier in the week and told them that if they think about that loss, it’s not going to be good this time around.
“Last year’s game has nothing to do with this year’s game,” Sheptock said. “Is it going to be in our kids’ minds? Sure I think it is. I think it’ll be in their kids’ minds too. I think that’s human nature. But for us, it’s been very focused on ‘these are the things we need to get better at this week.’”
The Pride have revamped since last year when they reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Coach Isaac Collins has taken a Division II job at Seton Hill, while quarterback Chris Haupt has graduated. Bobby Acosta, former offensive coordinator at The College of New Jersey, took over for Collins, while freshman quarterback Seth Klein is in Haupt’s old slot.
But Widener still has the speedy receivers that ran all over the Colonels a year ago and Acosta has implemented an up-tempo offense. Anthony Davis had 113 yards receiving last year, while Jermaine Quattlebaum also had two receptions. Those two are now first and third in the MAC in receiving yards, while teammate Adam Marcucci is fifth.
There’s a flip side to every story. And this time that it Widener’s pass defense, which is allowing an average of 400.5 yards per game and has not registered an interception yet this season.
Wilkes, which normally is a run-heavy squad, is only averaging 127.5 passing yards per game, and just eight of the team’s receptions this season have been to receivers.
“Just looking at us statistically wants me to get our passing game going a lot more. We can’t be one-dimensional,” Sheptock added. “We need the two phases to compliment each other to have a chance.”
Widener (1-1, 1-0 MAC) at Wilkes (1-1, 0-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Schmidt Stadium, Edwardsville
Last Week: In the MAC opener for both teams, Widener defeated Lebanon Valley 35-28, while the Colonels dropped a 34-18 decision to Lycoming.
Last meeting: It was a game Wilkes does not want to remember, a 90-0 loss to the Pride last year.
Wilkes player to watch: Quarterback Tyler Bernsten has just a 42.5 completion percentage this season with three interceptions and two touchdowns. He will lead the offense against a Widener defense that is worst in the MAC in passing yards allowed.
Widener player to watch: Freshman quarterback Seth Klein leads the MAC in passing with 581 yards and a completion percentage of 76.7.
Colonels’ team leaders: RB Pat Inguilli 90 yards, 1TD; QB Tyler Bernsten 101 rushing yards, 255 passing yards, 1 rushing TD; TE Ryan Casey 101 yards, 1TD; DB D.J. Shuttleworth, DB Omar Richardson 1 int; LB Tate Moore-Jacobs 27 tackles; DL Rob Houseknecht 2 sacks
Pride’s team leaders: RB Terrant Morrison 99 yards, 1TD; QB Seth Klein 581 yards, 2 TD; WR Anthony Davis 21 rec, 226 yards, 1TD; LB Brandon Harper 21 tackles; DL Stacey Sunnerville 2.5 sacks
Wilkes will win if: The passing game can take adavntage of a weak Widener secondary, which has allowed 801 yards through the air in two games.
Widener will win if: The Wilkes pass defense hasn’t shown improvement from a year ago. So far the Colonels have been better. But playing a potent offense will be a test.
What to know: Wilkes always plays Widener tough at home. The Pride haven’t won in Edwardsville since 2007 and even that game was decided on a late score. In fact, in Sheptock’s tenure with the Colonels, which began in 1996, he’s lost just three times at home to the Pride.