Wolverines prepare for showdown vs. Sea Gulls

Now that this is his fifth year in the program, Isaiah Ingram says getting back into Wesley’s triple-option defense is like second-nature to him. (Wesley sports information)

DOVER — Isaiah Ingram remembers his first Salisbury game week.

The Wesley College defensive end didn’t know quite what to make of the Sea Gulls’ triple-option attack not to mention the Wolverines’ defensive scheme to stop it.

“It definitely caught me off-guard,” the senior said with a smile. “I never saw any offense like that. And, as far as the defense we run against the triple option, it was foreign to me.”

Isaiah Ingram

But, now that this is his fifth year in the program, Ingram says getting back into Wesley’s triple-option defense is like second-nature to him.

“I know it like the back of my hand,” he said.

Wesley will be counting on its veteran defenders even more this week when Salisbury comes to town on Saturday to decide the New Jersey Athletic Conference football title.

Kickoff is set for noon at Miller Stadium between the No. 13 Wolverines (7-0 NJAC, 7-1 overall) and No. 25 Sea Gulls (7-0 NJAC, 7-1 overall).

Wesley is trying to earn the program’s 13th-straight NCAA Division III playoff bid.

Wolverines’ coach Mike Drass likes to tell his players that these kind of games are the reason they came to Wesley in the first place. On Tuesday, he told them the challenge this week is pretty straightforward — a victory gives them the conference crown.

“I said to the guys, ‘Is there anything else you need for me to say?’” said Drass. “‘Is there some other speech you need to motivate yourself to have the best week of practice and be ready to play on Saturday?’ I don’t know what else you can say to a team.

“Like I tell my guys, ‘What is the best game you’ve ever played? I don’t care if it’s Pop Warner, junior high or whatever … What’s the best game you had and let’s go one higher than that.’”

While Wesley has had more than its share of close games against the Gulls over the years, Drass’ teams are 19-5 against their Route 13 rivals. A lot of that success has to do with the Wolverine defense’s ability to control Salisbury’s running game.

And that defensive success is largely built upon the defensive line’s ability to adjust and execute in a different scheme. Drass especially likes having both Ingram and senior defensive tackle Steven Yorkman this week.

“These are two guys who are fifth-year players who’ve been playing this defense and are comfortable,” said Drass. “We’re going to be relying on them, along with Vince Ebron and Ray Mangold. If we’re playing well, it’s going to be because of them.”

Salisbury’s rushing attack is ranked eighth nationally in Division III at 287.1 yards per game. Ingram said he’s prepared to answer his share of questions from his younger teammates this week.

“If they forget something, they’ll just run up to me,” he said with a smile. “It’s good just to know that your teammates can trust you to point them in the right direction. I just remember being in their shoes, asking what I was supposed to do, being confused on some of the plays.

“After a while, you get the hang of it and it just becomes simple.”

Even though he’s gotten used to playing in big games, Ingram tries to never lose sight that not every team gets these kinds of opportunities. There are plenty of teams in the country who don’t have much to play for right now.

“It’s definitely a special opportunity just to play in big games like this,” said Ingram. “Just to have something to compete for and have a goal set for your team.”

Kesack delivers

Drass didn’t know how much he could really expect from Dan Kesack last week.

Dan Kesack caught a huge 64-yard touchdown in Wesley’s nail-biting 26-7 win at Montclair State last Saturday. (Wesley sports information)

The senior slot receiver didn’t practice until Friday because he had the flu.

“He was so sick on Tuesday, he couldn’t even come out to the field,” said Drass.

But that didn’t stop Kesack from delivering a huge 64-yard touchdown catch in Wesley’s nail-biting 26-7 win at Montclair State last Saturday.

The Wolverines were leading only 12-7 when quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs found Kesack behind the defense with only 8:15 left.

“As soon as he caught it, he was in full stride,” said Drass. “You knew that he was going to take it. The two safeties were chasing him and Danny pulled away. It was pretty cool to see.”

Kesack was Wesley’s starting QB at the beginning of the season. Drass said the senior deserves a lot of credit for working hard to learn a new position.

“The kid has blocked his backside off all year,” said Drass. “A lot of those runs that E.J. (Lee) has had, he’s been the linchpin who’s been springing him.”

Extra points

Wesley won’t have defensive tackle Nick Glover this week as the Dover High grad continues to recover from a knee injury. … That means Glover won’t be lining up across from Salisbury’s starting center, Tyler Rosello, another former Senator. … Caesar Rodney High grad Tim Steindl is the Gulls’ starting punter. He’s third in the NJAC at 38.4 yards per kick.

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