Wesley lineman Ergenzinger fired up for Saturday’s tourney game

Wesley football-Ergenzinger (56) by .

Along with injuries, Casey Ergenzinger (56) also had to make the big adjustment from defensive lineman to offensive lineman. He moved between guard and tackle as well. (Wesley sports information)

DOVER — Casey Ergenzinger doesn’t usually get to start.

But the Sussex Central High grad is part of Wesley College’s seven-man rotation on the offensive line.

The junior offensive tackle says he’s always anxiously waiting for his next chance on the field.

“I can’t wait,” said Ergenzinger. “Every second I’m just wanting to jump back in there and just go.”

With the Wolverines (9-1) hosting Framingham State (9-1) on Saturday at noon in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs, it doesn’t hurt that Ergenzinger is also healthy for the first extended stint of his career.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has already undergone three operations — one on each knee and one on his right thumb — and missed considerable playing time in his first couple years at Wesley.

This is Ergenzinger’s second straight season, though, where he’s been pretty healthy.

“It’s a great feeling,” said the fourth-year lineman “It’s weird for me, honestly, having another consecutive year of being healthy. I love it. Actually being able to enjoy the game — not having to worry about another surgery or rehab. I can just focus on what I what focus on. It’s fantastic.”

Having a seven-man rotation on the offensive front is a luxury that Wesley hasn’t always had.

Coach Mike Drass said the Wolverines can play Temi Adebayo, Matt Schmidt, Austin Eagle, Matt Gono, Devin Filliben, D.J. Taylor — another Sussex Central High grad — and Ergenziner without any dropoff.

“We haven’t had that,” said Drass. “You can notice the difference every game. If you look at us in the last couple years, we haven’t really run the ball.

“But there’s been games this year where we’re running the ball over people. I think these guys (the linemen) are the reason for that.”

Along with the injuries, Ergenzinger also had to make the big adjustment from defensive lineman to offensive lineman. He moved between guard and tackle as well.

“I’ve learned to love offense,” said Ergenzinger. “At first it was a hard transition, learning how to go backwards rather than forward. Definitely the offensive linemen are the overworked, under-appreciated kind of guys. You learn to love it.

“You’re not going to get those sacks, those tackles or interceptions. But you’re going to work together and make sure you put those points on the board.”

Lowery steps up

Cornerback DaJahn Lowery is one of the Wolverines whose playing time has increased as the season’s gone along.

After injuries forced Wesley to shuffle some players on defense, the sophomore ended up starting at one of the cornerback spots the last two weeks.

“It’s definitely different,” said Lowery. “You’ve got to pay a lot more attention and you just have to step up and be ready.”

The one thing the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Lowery has going for him is speed. He’s an all-conference sprinter on the Wolverines’ track & field team who has made nationals and been clocked at 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters.

“Nobody’s going to run by him,” said Drass. “He hasn’t made a lot of mistakes for us. He’s really been a solid player for us in the last three or four weeks.”

In his pair of starts, Lowery has picked up 14 of his 32 total tackles. He’s also forced a fumble.

Getting serious

With this being the Wolverines’ 11th straight NCAA playoff appearance, this isn’t a new experience for Wesley.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not a change in the atmosphere around the program this week.

“Every team you play is really good,” Lowery said about the playoffs. “You have to bring your best football because you don’t get any second chance.

“Everybody’s a lot more serious, more focused. We’re trying to make sure everybody’s getting everything down pat.”

Wesley comes into Saturday’s game having won its last nine home playoff games. Overall, the Wolverines are 22-2 in home playoff games, all since 2006.

“There’s definitely an air, especially when it comes to practice, knowing that this could be the last practice you have,” said Ergenzinger. “You’ve got to put everything you have into it. We’ve cracked down on everything, it’s just been as serious as you can get.”

Extra points

Framingham State is making its third NCAA playoff appearance in the last four years. … The Rams won the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title. They also swept the conference’s top awards with quarterback Matt Silva, center Nick Stanfield and safety Matt Mangano being named the MSCAC’s Players of the Year for offense, line and defense, respectively.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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