Every time Wilkes and Lycoming get together, the game is a smash-mouth, physical football game between the teams in which either squad could come out on top regardless of records.
Take 2008 for example when the Colonels struggled to a 4-6 mark, but came out the victor against the Warriors, who had seven wins that year.
Even though Wilkes (4-3, 3-3 MAC) is not having a spectacular season in 2012 and the Warriors (5-2, 5-1) are entering with a good shot at winning the MAC, Saturday's game at Schmidt Stadium can go either way. In fact, the Colonels may have the advantage because they have won seven of the last 10 in the series and haven't lost at home to Lycoming since 2003.
Obviously they've been a tremendously strong program and they are again this year, Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock said. Where they impose their will on you is the culture of their program.
A good matchup in the contest pits Wilkes' second-ranked rushing offense in the MAC (262 yards per game) against the Warriors' top-rated rush defense in the conference. The Colonels had the top rushing stats in the league until Delaware Valley piled up 551 yards on the ground last week against Misericordia to overtake Wilkes. Lyco (96.7 rushing yards per game allowed) meanwhile, has been atop the rush defense category all season making this a classic matchup.
Everywhere you look at the Warriors' defense there's a standout. Nate Oropollo leads the MAC and is eighth in the nation with 8.5 sacks and also has 12.5 tackles for a loss to lead the conference. In the secondary, Tanner Troutman leads the MAC with five interceptions as the team has a plus-10 turnover ratio.
We definitely have a concern with the amount of playmakers they have on defense, Sheptock added. They present a lot of problems.
Wilkes' running game is led by freshman Pat Inguilli, who is coming off a 210-yard game against Stevenson in last week's victory and earned MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. His outing came in just his fifth collegiate game in which he earned positive yardage. The Wallenpaupack grad picked up 30 carries due to a few injuries in the Wilkes backfield.
Patrick, obviously we thought he was a good player and he was such a huge factor in that game for us last week with the plays he was making, Sheptock said. He obviously demonstrated the ability that he can really perform at a high level. We're going to challenge him to do that on a consistent basis now.
When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Schmidt Stadium, Edwardsville
Last Meeting: The Warriors won last year at home 40-7.
Last week: Wilkes defeated Stevenson 38-35, while Lycoming lost to Widener 28-23.
About the Colonels: They are second in the MAC in rushing offense averaging 262 yards per game on the ground, but have allowed 233.4 passing yards per game.
About the Warriors: They lead the MAC in rushing defense only giving up 96.7 yards per game.
Wilkes will win if the rushing offense can break through the Warriors stingy rush defense, and if the secondary can contain receiver Jarrin Campman, who has eight touchdowns this season.
Lycoming will win if its rush defense holds up its billing as tops in the conference and can hold the Colonels under their game average.
Colonels Team Leaders
Passing: Tyler Berntsen 47-of-81, 662 yards, 4 TDs, 4 ints.
Rushing: Pat Inguilli 410 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Jonathan Conklin 12 receptions, 193 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Tate Moore-Jacobs 72 tackles; Jason Ugwu 4.5 sacks; Marcus Leaf, Paul Gaffney 2 ints.
Warriors Team Leaders
Passing: Tyler Jenny 108-of-177, 1,151 yards, 12 TDs, 3 ints.
Rushing: Parker Showers 430 yards, 4 TDs.
Receiving: Jarrin Campman 29 receptions, 407 yards, 8 TDs
Defense: Kabongo Bukasa 59 tackles; Nate Oropollo 8.5 sacks; Tanner Troutman 5 ints.