For the first time since 2004, the Mayor‚??s Cup will truly be the last game of the season for Wilkes and King‚??s.
The game was either held near the end of the season or was the regular season finale in a playoff campaign for one or both squads in the seven previous years.
When the teams meet this afternoon at noon at Wilkes‚?? Schmidt Stadium, neither squad has a chance of making the postseason as they‚??ve combined for just six wins and teams they have beaten this season have combined for just four wins.
In scoring offense, the difference between the teams is an average of just two points.
Those are just a few of the stats showing how close the teams are this season and is a sign of how tight today‚??s game is expected to be.
The closest matchup on the field today will be the ground game.
King‚??s (2-7, 2-6 MAC) sophomore back Kyle McGrath needs 121 yards to become the first 1,000-yard rusher for the team since 2005. The Colonels (4-5, 3-5) are allowing just 149.7 yards per game on the ground, allowing just one 100-yard rusher all season, which was last week. Wilkes junior linebacker Tate Moore-Jacobs, who already has 96 tackles this season, will have to play a big part.
‚??We have to get a lot of people around the football because he has the strength to push the pile,‚?Ě Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock said about McGrath, who is 5-foot-10, 215 pounds.
The Colonels don‚??t have a back close to the 1,000-yard milestone, but they have been spreading the ball around and have had the top rushing attack in the MAC for most of the season until lately, but still average 230.2 yards a game on the ground.
The Monarchs rush defense, which consists of top senior linebackers Ryan Cordingly and Ryan Kelly, is slightly better than Wilkes allowing just 139.3 yards a game to the opposition and one 100-yard rusher, which was back in Week 3.
This week though they are facing running quarterbacks, which is harder preparation.
‚??It‚??s a little bit tough because you have to make sure you account for him,‚?Ě King‚??s coach Jeff Knarr said.
Not all the matchups could be close.
The passing game for example appears to heavily favor the Monarchs on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Tyler Hartranft has been big for King‚??s the last two weeks piling up 378 yards passing and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Wilkes, which has been last in the MAC in pass defense for most of the season, has been improving of late allowing just 78 yards through the air to Delaware Valley last week and its average 216.4 allowed is no longer last in the conference.
‚??With the development we‚??ve seen there he has a lot of potential and a lot of talent, they have to develop that,‚?Ě Knarr said about his signal-caller. ‚??And with Tyler we‚??ve seen that.‚?Ě
On the opposite side of the ball, Wilkes has had problems passing all season with quarterbacks Tyler Berntsen and Alex George combining for 1,422 yards, 10 interceptions and just six touchdowns with a total completion percentage hovering around 50 percent.
‚??I think when we‚??re struggling to the extent we are there‚??s a little bit of everything that‚??s going on there,‚?Ě Sheptock said about the troubles in the passing game. ‚??I think there‚??s a potpourri of issues we are dealing with in the throwing game.‚?Ě
Last Meeting: The Colonels won last year in the snow cup game, 13-6
Last week: Both teams lost with the Monarchs falling to Lebanon Valley 34-19 and Wilkes losing to Delaware Valley 23-7.
About the Monarchs: Running back Kyle McGrath is 121 yards shy of becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher for the team since 2005.
About the Colonels: This afternoon is senior day for just eight players on the young squad.
King‚??s will win if its rush defense continues to play well and can contain Wilkes‚?? running quarterback duo of Tyler Berntsen and Alex George along with tailback Pat Inguilli.
Wilkes will win if the pass defense, which is allowing 216.4 yards per game but has improved the last few weeks, can show it has gotten better this season by containing the King‚??s pass game, which has been gelling of late.
Monarchs Team Leaders
Passing: Tyler Hartranft 110-of-228, 1398 yards, 7 TDs, 7 ints.
Rushing: Kyle McGrath 879 yards, 7 TDs.
Receiving: Dan Kempa 18 receptions, 339 yards, 1 TD; Adam Kudlacik 17 receptions, 265 yards, 2 TDs.
Defense: Kris Matthews 70 tackles; Ron Garrett 4.5 sacks; Kris Matthews 2 ints.
Colonels Team Leaders
Passing: Tyler Berntsen 53-of-110, 732 yards, 4 TDs, 5 ints.
Rushing: Pat Inguilli 479 yards, 5 TDs.
Receiving: Jonathan Conklin 13 receptions, 211 yards, 1 TD; Payton Bachman 18 receptions, 181 yards.
Defense: Tate Moore-Jacobs 96 tackles; Jason Ugwu 5.5 sacks; Marcus Leaf 3 ints. 1 TD