Wesley still aiming to play a fall season

Wesley College football coach Chip Knapp and the Wolverines are continuing to plan for a season. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — Chip Knapp knows there’s still some big obstacles standing between his Wesley College football team and playing an actual game this fall.

For the time being, however, Knapp and the Wolverines are still planning to get on the field.

While the state’s two Division I FCS programs, Delaware and Delaware State, both canceled their fall football seasons last week. Division III Wesley is still working toward having a season.

Wesley has put out a statement on its website saying that all its fall sports programs hope to play their seasons despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“We continue to be in consultation with our respective athletic conferences and the NCAA regarding Fall competition, but plan on bringing our student athletes back in August for their respective pre-season camps,” the statement read.

Playing any fall sport seems to be difficult due to the threat of spreading the virus. Football, though, appears to be the most difficult because of the large number of players and the amount of contact involved.

“We’re going to move forward,” said Knapp, Wesley’s head coach. “We’re going to do it safely. If we can do that, we’ll hopefully have some semblance of a football season.”

Right now, Wesley is planning to open pre-season football camp on Aug. 10. The Wolverines’ season opener is on Sept. 5 against Franklin Pierce.

But Wesley has also had three opponents cancel their football seasons — Delaware Valley, Endicott and the College of New Jersey. That leaves the Wolverines with a seven-game schedule, although Knapp has heard from some regional teams looking to schedule a game.
As things stand now, Wesley goes from Sept. 5 to Oct. 3 without a game.

The New Jersey Athletic Conference — the league the Wolverines are members of in football only — hasn’t announced any decision about the season.

Wesley is a member of the Atlantic East Conference in all its other sports but that league hasn’t made any announcements, either.

There may also be the chance to play a hybrid schedule, which would include some actual games, some scrimmages and practice. The Wolverines weren’t able to hold spring practice this year.

The NCAA ruled earlier this month that any Division III athletes whose teams complete 50 percent or less of their season won’t have the year count against their eligibility.

“If we’re only going to play a limited season, hopefully we wouldn’t use a whole year of eligibility,” said Knapp. “I think that’s important. That’s a consideration for the guys coming in — ‘Do I want to use a year to play a couple games?’ I think that’s something that we would look at.

“It could turn a negative into some sort of positive — as opposed to not playing at all,” he added. “I think when you say ‘cancel the season,’ people want to know, does it mean no football? Or does it mean that you can practice.”