Wesley notebook: Senior receiver Kesack is the ultimate team player

Coach Mike Drass says Dan Kesack will leave his own legacy with Wesley’s football program. (Wesley sports information)

DOVER — Dan Kesack was never much of a blocker until this season.

But he had a pretty good reason.

Until late last year, the Wesley College senior football player was a quarterback, not the receiver that he is now.

“It’s a pride thing,” said Kesack. “You’ve just got to take pride in blocking. I’ve always considered myself just a football player.

“It’s just part of playing football — having fun, hitting people.”

Kesack will never make it into the Wesley record books for putting up great stats.

But with the No. 13 Wolverines (8-0 NJAC, 8-1) getting ready to honor their seniors before Saturday’s noon regular-season finale against Christopher Newport (4-4 NJAC, 5-4) in Dover, coach Mike Drass says Kesack will leave his own legacy with the program.

Kesack was Wesley’s starting QB for the first half of last season before being replaced by Nick Falkenberg. Rather than sulk, however, Kesack asked if he could switch to receiver.

After seeing some playing time late last fall, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior has been the Wolverines’ full-time starter at slot receiver this season.

“I’m just real proud of him,” said Drass. “I look forward to the future and being able to talk about Danny Kesack’s legacy — because it was all about the team and what can he do to help this team win.

“He’s the ultimate teammate, he’s selfless. Yesterday at practice, it was horrible. It (the rain) was coming down hard, 40 degrees, the guys are freezing. But he was a man out there. This was his last week of practice, and he was working hard.”

It was Kesack’s idea last season to switch to wide receiver.

“I just wanted to do whatever I could to help our team win,” he said. “That was most important. There was a position that needed to be filled and I knew the plays.”

Drass said there’s been plenty of times this season when Kesack’s blocks have sprung running back E.J. Lee for a big gain. He does also have 11 catches for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Clearly the highlight of Kesack’s season was catching a 64-yard scoring pass in Wesley’s victory at Kean two weeks ago. Playing near his hometown of Lyndhurst, N.J., Kesack had a big group of former coaches, family and friends on hand for the game.

It didn’t matter that Kesack had been sick all week with an ear infection and strep throat.

“I woke up (on Saturday) a little weak, but I wanted to go out there,” he said. “I was home. It was the last time they were going to see me play. I was going to do whatever I needed to do to play. It meant a lot.

“I just wanted to make sure I caught it,” Kesack said about the TD. “Then, once I caught it, there was no way I was going to get tackled.”

A reason to win

The Wolverines may have wrapped up the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s automatic NCAA Division III playoff berth last week, but Drass said they still have a lot to play for on Saturday.

For starters, Wesley can have the league title all to itself. A win would also help the Wolverines’ placement in the playoff bracket, which will be announced on Sunday evening.

Wesley has shared the NJAC title each of the last two years. Salisbury and Frostburg State, who both lost to the Wolverines and who play each other on Saturday, are both 7-1 in the conference.

“We have an opportunity to step on the field and let there be no discussion about who is the NJAC champion,” said Drass.

“If you’re a two-loss team going into the NCAA playoffs, you’re not playing at home,” he added. “If you’re a one-loss team with the schedule we’ve played, I think there’s a real good chance you could be home. And playing at home in the playoffs is big.”

Getting defensive

Playing an option team, like Salisbury, was pretty draining for Wesley’s defensive players last week.

Mentally, it’s all about carrying out their assignments, play after play — and knowing that any mistake could lead to a touchdown.

Physically, they have to deal with cut blocks and the constant pounding of the Sea Gulls’ running game.

Salisbury ended up running 79 offensive plays compared to only 58 for the Wolverines. The Gulls also held a 10-minute edge in time of possession.

But linebacker Najee Wilson said it was all worth it when Wesley stopped Salisbury on a crucial fourth-and two late in Wesley’s 30-20 win.

“I stepped up and I looked to my right and all I saw was (Steve) Yorkman and Isaiah (Ingram),” Wilson said about his two teammates. “As soon as I saw them, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not getting this. There’s no way that he’s getting through them.’

“Once I saw that, I was already celebrating. It was amazing. Coming to the bench, everyone was cheering. Looking at everyone, I just knew this was our game to win.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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