Wesley football notebook: Kemp enjoying final year

Wesley’s Alex Kemp, top, celebrates after a touchdown on Saturday. Special to the State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Alex Kemp was as surprised as anyone that the play unfolded the way it did.

The Wesley College receiver figured he’d get hit by a Frostburg State cornerback as he left the line of scrimmage.

“They were looking for everything inside,” Kemp explained. “I just ran right past the guy — he didn’t even touch me.”

Kemp was pretty hard to miss as he sprinted all alone down the field last Saturday. And quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs didn’t miss him, hitting the senior in stride.

Eighty yards later, Kemp had himself a touchdown and the Wolverines had themselves a 7-0 lead just 39 seconds into their showdown with Frostburg State.

“After I scored, I was like, ‘It couldn’t have been that easy,’” said Kemp. “Our coaches gave them the respect on defense of, they’re going to be aggressive. But the way they played that play in particular, it was just too easy.”

Everything else didn’t come that easily the rest of the way for Wesley, of course. In a back-and-forth contest, the Bobcats pulled out a 35-34 victory.

Alex Kemp in action against Frostburg. Wesley sports information

Still, as the seventh-ranked Wolverines (3-1 NJAC, 4-1 overall) try to get back on track with a 1 p.m. game at Kean (1-3 NJAC, 1-4 overall) on Saturday, there have been times this season when Kemp has made scoring TDs look pretty simple.

Including the three scoring passes he caught on Saturday, the Caesar Rodney High grad now has nine in five games. That total ties him for sixth nationally in NCAA Division III.

And with 528 yards on 28 receptions, Kemp is averaging 105.6 yards per contest.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder said about catching a TD pass. “There’s nothing like it.”

“Alex has been a major force on our team,” said coach Chip Knapp, who is also Wesley’s offensive coordinator. “In practice, he’s been real fun to coach — a great teammate for everybody. And then when he gets in the game. … he plays with a lot of confidence. He’s an explosive, very dynamic player for us.

“We’ve just got to continue to get him the ball — any way we can.”

This, you may remember, is the season Kemp didn’t know he was going to play.

Burned out on a game he’d played since he was six, the 22-year-old didn’t attend spring practice, graduated and was working as a physical therapist in Colorado. But Kemp also kept working out when he made his decision to return.

After making the 27-hour drive home, Kemp only arrived back in Dover a week before Wesley’s season opener with Delaware Valley. He hadn’t been home since May.

Kemp says now that the break from organized football probably helped recharge his batteries.

“Every season I forget the plays,” Kemp said with a laugh. “The first day out there at practice, I’m asking everybody, ‘What do I have to do?’ and they’re all telling me. It was pretty funny. But I’ve got it all back now.

“I feel great. Every possession we get the ball, it’s just like I can’t wait to get back on the field, Normally at the beginning of a game you’ve got jitters. You don’t know what’s going to happen. But every game it almost feels like I’m coming back out for halftime and I’m just ready to keep playing. That’s how I start off every game.”

The results have been pretty impressive so far.

With 33 career touchdown receptions, Kemp needs only three more to catch Bryce Shade for third on the program’s all-time list and five to track down Ellis Krout for second. (Steve Koudossou holds the record with 49).

But Kemp said he’s not putting any pressure on himself. He’s just trying to enjoy playing the game one last time.

“Normally I felt like I had a lot of pressure,” said Kemp. “I don’t really feel that this year. It’s my last year — it’s my actual last year — so I’m taking it as, ‘Just have fun. Do what you can do, get what you can get and just enjoy it while you’re doing it.’”
Bouncing back

As difficult as Saturday’s loss to Frostburg State was, Knapp said it was business as usual when his players returned to practice this week.

While the loss snapped the Wolverines’ 19-game NJAC winning streak, they dropped only one spot to No. 7 in this week’s D3football.com poll.

The difference now, though, is that Wesley probably has to win its five remaining games to earn one of Division III’s coveted at-large playoff berths.

“We just say there is no margin for error now,” said Knapp. “They know that. They’ve got to practice and prepare with that in mind.
“The Frostburg game was a great lesson. All the little details that we have to take care of during the week, they come out during the game — when you play good teams especially.”

Extra points

With 2,938 career receiving yards, Kemp is third on Wesley’s all-time list. Shade is second with 3,342 yards. … The Wolverines still haven’t lost to a team from New Jersey since falling to Rowan in 2013 — before they joined the NJAC. … Knapp said the Wolverines are continuing to work on their problems with shotgun snaps. At least one bad snap led to a turnover against Frostburg. “Last week in practice, we thought we had it fixed,” he said. “But then one or two come back to haunt you in a major way.” … Former Wesley QB Joe Callahan recently had a free-agent tryout with the Seattle Seahawks.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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