Take a look at Wilkes University’s 2-3 overall record and the first thought that comes to mind is that the Colonels are having a mediocre season so far.
What isn’t known by looking at the mark is that all three of the Colonels’ losses have come to teams currently in first place and have combined for a record of 12-4. Heck, even one of Wilkes’ victories is against Morrisville State, a first-place team in the NJAC.
That gives the Colonels something to grow on as they enter today’s road game against an Albright team that has an overall record of 3-2. But coach Frank Sheptock has set a higher bar for his squad.
“We’ve played a tough schedule and we’ve done some good things, but the bottom line is we need to win,” he said. “There’s no moral victories.
“I believe I want our football team to look at it that way because we have a higher end than we’re currently playing. And I think if we can get their mindsets there that you’ll see that higher end. Our goal is to be the best team in the MAC in the second half of our year. So you set the bar high then challenge the young men to do that.
Wilkes, which is 1-3 in the MAC, will have to deal with an Albright (2-2 MAC) squad that starts an astounding 19 seniors. The Lions also have the top scoring offense in the MAC, averaging 33.0 points per game, the second rated overall defense in the conference, allowing just 306.2 yards per game, and the pass offense is second in the league, averaging 235.0 yards per game behind senior QB T.J. Luddy, who has passed for 1,136 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
“They got some great talent,” Sheptock said “We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but I’m excited about getting back on the field and we’ve got a good week in and I really believe in our kids.”
The Colonels are coming off a bye week, which could be helpful for freshman quarterback Taylor Young and freshman receiver David Claybrook. The two created an instant rapport in their first game together, a win against Misericordia, but were held in check in a loss to Lebanon Valley the following week.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Sheptock said. “I’m very pleased with how he’s come along in the last week.”
Wilkes (2-3, 1-3 MAC) at Albright (3-2, 2-2 MAC)
When: 1 p.m. today at Gene L. Shirk Stadium, Reading
Last Week: The teams are coming off bye weeks. Two weeks ago, Albright stuffed FDU-Florham 52-7, while the Colonels dropped a 17-6 decision to Lebanon Valley.
Last meeting: Albright picked up a 27-13 win last season in Edwardsville. Wilkes’ last win in the series came in 2010.
Wilkes players to watch: The secondary. The unit has been playing extremely well lately and will have to continue to play well this afternoon to stymie Albright’s passing attack. Six different players on Wilkes’ roster have an interception meaning the whole group has been getting the job done.
Albright player to watch: Running back Ty Hughes leads MAC running backs in touchdowns with eight. He only trails Misericordia quarterback Jeff Puckett’s nine for tops in the league.
Colonels’ team leaders: RB Pat Inguilli 280 yards, 2 TDs; QB Taylor Young 308 passing yards, 3 TD, 5 interceptions; WR David Claybrook 17 receptions, 213 yards, 2 TDs; LB Tate Moore-Jacobs 66 tackles (leads MAC); three players with 2 sacks; six players with one interception.
Lions’ team leaders: RB Ty Hughes 497 yards, 8 TD; QB T.J. Luddy 1,136 yards, 6 TD, 4 interceptions; WR Daniel McNair 33 receptions, 454 yards, 3 TD; DB Levi Myers 39 tackles, 1 interception; DE Don Gould 3.5 sacks; DB Drew Peterson 5 interceptions (leads MAC)
Wilkes will win if: The offensive line can contain the stiff Albright defense from making big plays. The Lions enter with the second-best rush defense in the MAC and two weeks ago, the Wilkes O-line allowed eight sacks to Lebanon Valley.
Albright will win if: The veteran leadership proves to be the deciding victory against a young Wilkes squad.
What to know: The Colonels have a plus-6 turnover differential this season collecting, including a plus-10 margin in fumbles, where they’ve gained 11 and only coughed up the ball on the ground once.