Simpson, Wesley set to rebound from loss

Chuck Simpson

DOVER — It’s been four years since Chuck Simpson’s first Wesley College football camp.

It only feels like it was yesterday.

Simpson quickly learned he wasn’t in high school any more.

“I just remember Coach (Mike) Drass just out there yelling and on everybody,” the senior receiver said with a smile. “I was like, ‘Whoa.’ When I saw he was like that every single day, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is real different.’”

But now Simpson can’t believe that his college career might be down to only five games.

The No. 15 Wolverines (1-1 NJAC, 4-1 overall) start the second half of their season by traveling to William Patterson (0-2 NJAC, 2-3 overall) for a 1 p.m. conference game on Saturday.

Wesley believes it can still contend for an NCAA Division III playoff berth. That conversation, though, has to start with the Wolverines finishing the regular season at 9-1.

Wesley’s margin for error vanished with last week’s tough 45-38 loss to Salisbury. It’s a hole the Wolverines have dug themselves out of before, however.

Wesley made the NCAA playoffs for 12 straight seasons before last year.

“Everybody knows — Coach (Chip) Knapp said it to us — if we lose one more game, we’re not making the playoffs,” said Simpson. “That’s already in our heads. Everybody’s just keeping their energy up in practice, making each other more accountable.

“Most of us seniors, we don’t want to be done after the 10th game. So everybody’s on edge now. It makes us work harder in practice. You can just feel the intensity.”

Simpson is one of those players who can quickly make a big difference for the Wolverines.

He’s been relatively quiet so far this season, with 18 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. He’s also carried the ball three times for 21 yards with 99 yards on 12 punt returns.

But the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Year last season, Simpson is always a threat to break off a long play.

“We’ve asked him to do a lot more this year — playing wide receiver, slot and even in the backfield some,” said Knapp. “He’s not getting the touches probably we should get him. But he doesn’t make  mistakes, he works hard, he’s a good example for the other players in how to prepare for a game. He’s doing all the things that our great players in the past have done.

“Any minute he could have a breakout game.”

Simpson can feel the sense of urgency that comes with being a senior. He wants to be able to leave his playing career behind without any regrets.

He’s heard all the seniors in past seasons talk about their careers.

“You see it each year,” said Simpson. “They all tell you the same thing when they get up to give you their speech — ‘It goes by fast, it goes by fast.’ I’m here and I’m like, “Yeah, they were right.’”

Pack has a big day

Back when he was lining up for Dover High, Marcellus Pack was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.

Now a senior running back for Wesley, Pack proved that again when he put up some big numbers against Salisbury.

Pack collected 358 all-purpose yards — including 229 on eight kickoff returns and 110 yards on 11 carries — in the contest. He broke off a 51-yard scoring run on the Wolverines’ first play from scrimmage and a 65-yard kickoff return to start the second half.

“He showed what he’s capable of,” said Knapp. “He is a big play waiting to happen. When they’re there, he’ll make them. He’s dynamic like that.

“He’s always been a talented player. He’s worked hard to get better and learn what he has to do to get on the field. It’s paying off for him. … We think Marcellus is one of those most dangerous kick returners in Division III, for sure.”

No strangers

With former Delmar High standout Dustin Johnson in his second season as William Patterson’s head coach, it’s no surprise that the Pioneers have some local players on their roster.

A pair of Woodbridge High grads, running back Terrique Riddick and defensive back R.J. Massey, have both earned NJAC Rookie of the Week honors this season.

Riddick leads Patterson in rushing with 421 yards and five touchdowns on 59 carries. He has 41 more yards on four catches. 

Dover High grad Rae’Kwon Jackson (receiver) and Caesar Rodney’s Dashuan Gray (defensive lineman) are also on the squad.

Extra points

Wesley dropped three spots to No. 15 in this week’s poll while Salisbury moved up to No. 12. … The Wolverines dropped from No. 8 to No. 18 this week in the Division III coaches’ poll. … Wesley’s Ruhann Peele leads the NJAC in receptions per game (9.2) while QB Jon Mullin leads in the league in passing efficiency (171.4).

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