Wolverines know tougher foes await them

DOVER — Mike Drass had seen something on film that stuck with him.

So before Wesley College’s football game at William Paterson on Saturday, he gave cornerback DaJahn Lowery some simple instructions.

If the Pioneers ran a certain play on their first possession, Drass wanted Lowery to jump the route as hard as he could.

“We were gambling a little bit,” Drass explained. “We didn’t really practice that. But, on the film, we saw it all week long. He (Lowery) was chomping at the bit to do it.

Defensive end Ray Mangold is a senior now for the Wolverines./Wesley sports information

“He stepped up, the ball came right to him and he was walking in the end zone.”

Indeed, Lowery’s 57-yard interception return for a touchdown on Paterson’s second play from scrimmage seemed to light the fuse on the Wolverines’ 66-0 explosion of a win over the Pioneers.

Two more turnovers on Paterson’s next two possessions set up two more quick Wesley TDs as the Wolverines found themselves suddenly up 21-0 less than three minutes into the contest.

“Things just steamrolled,” said Drass. “I’ve been a part of that, too. I was at Wisconsin-Whitewater. As the coach on the other sideline, you don’t know what the heck to do. How do you put the brakes on that?”

That being said, Drass does expect a much closer game on Saturday when No. 23 Wesley (2-0 NJAC, 2-1 overall) hosts Southern Virginia (0-4, 0-4) at 1 p.m. in its home opener.

Still, this hasn’t exactly been the Wolverines’ most-grueling three-game stretch ever. Wesley’s last two opponents — College of New Jersey and William Paterson — plus Southern Virginia are a combined 0-12 right now.

The Wolverines have won their last two games by a combined score of 99-0.

It really was just the luck of the draw that Wesley’s New Jersey Athletic Conference schedule turned out the way it did. After a season-opening loss to Delaware Valley, in which the Wolverines lost starting quarterback Nick Falkenberg to an injury, Drass said he really can’t complain about the schedule.

“When I first saw the schedule when it came out back in February, I was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” said Drass. “But, after the injury, it’s kind of worked in our favor a little bit. We’ve been able to get (QB) Khaaliq (Burroughs) experience, a young offensive line has really come along. I think we’re definitely playing better.

“We know we have great competition coming up. But it is what it is. As perplexing as it was to me when I first saw it (the schedule), it’s kind of worked in our favor.”

The Wolverines’ final six-game stretch starts with a date at No. 11 Frostburg State (4-0) on Oct. 7. So Wesley’s players know they have to keep improving.

“All the older guys on the team, we all realize the schedule’s going to get a lot tougher down the road,” said senior defensive end Ray Mangold. “The young guys, we remind them to stay focused throughout the week.”

“As much as we would have liked to have won week one, I think it helped a lot with preparing us for the rest of the season,” said junior tight end Andrew Eagle. “We can’t take anything for granted. You’d rather overestimate a team than underestimate them.”

Lighter and faster

Mangold will never claim to be Wesley’s fastest defensive lineman.

But, after dropping about 25 pounds from his now 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame, the senior definitely feels like he has more stamina.

“I had a great camp this season,” said Mangold. “I’m not the fastest guy out there, but, reps-wise, I was just out-running everyone (on the defensive line). That was a first.”

What Drass likes is the veteran lineman’s knowledge of the game as well as his technique.

“Sometimes when they get to be seniors, they get it,” said Drass. “All the stuff you talked about for the last four years, it’s like, man, it just clicks. They just start doing it naturally.

“It’s so great as a coach to see that. I’m so proud because he has done such a great job. I always love seeing a player who is comfortable in his own skin. He knows his position and he’s having fun.”

Looking for the end zone

As a blocking tight end, Eagle doesn’t really expect to have many touchdown catches.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t dream.

Pulling in a TD reception would mean a lot to the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder, who has three receptions for 33 yards this season.

“I joke around with Coach (Chip) Knapp,” Eagle said, referring to Wesley’s offensive coordinator. “I say, ‘As soon as I catch my first touchdown, it’s going to be my last touchdown. I’m just going to walk away.’”

Extra points

Linebacker Samer Mana was named to the D3Football Team of the Week after posting eight tackles against Paterson. He also forced a fumble and recovered it to set up Wesley’s second TD. … The only points scored against the Wolverines in the last 10 quarters came on a fourth-quarter safety against Delaware Valley.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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