Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:18PM - 293 Views

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Loss after loss.

Players quitting during the season.

The team being outscored by more than 400 points.

Not much has gone right for Misericordia in its first year of football.

The Cougars, though, have shown improvement and there are many bright spots heading into the 2013 season. One of the encouraging stories is all-around performer Juwan Petties-Jackson, who has had success on offense, defense and special teams.

I want to be the guy on the field where coaches say ‘Watch out for number 5, he's going to do big things,' said Petties-Jackson. When I know I can do that, that sets my teammates up because it opens them and then someone else makes a big play and then they have to watch out for them, too.

Then it's like the whole team is doing good and it's not just me.

He certainly has been someone the opposition focuses on.

A freshman from Somerville High School in New Jersey, where he was star football player and athlete for the track and field team, Petties-Jackson accounts for two of the team's seven touchdowns this season including a receiving score and a kick return. On defense, he has one of the team's three interceptions to go along with 10 tackles.

In high school, he played all three phases and that's a reason he got noticed by Cougars coach Mark Ross and his staff among other Division III programs and a few FCS schools, including Monmouth.

Even though Misericordia is a new program and he knew there would be tough times, the Dallas institute really stood out.

The coaches really sold me on the program and what we have going here, Petties-Jackson said. It's been tough, but we knew that coming in. We're a first-year team we knew there would be some hills, but there have been peaks. There are a lot of things we do real well that once we get older and more experienced we can do big things.

A big thing the Cougars (0-9 overall, 0-8 MAC) can do Saturday afternoon in their season finale at home against Lycoming is play spoiler.

The Warriors (7-2, 7-1) need to win and a win by Delaware Valley over Widener by 15 points or less to claim the MAC championship. It would also be important for the Cougars to complete their season by notching their first win in school history.

It would be really fun to beat a team like that and we can do it, Petties-Jackson said. We have the pieces in place to do it. The coaches have set us up to make plays and we really will.

Even though it doesn't look like it because the scores are so high, when you watch the film on Sundays and the work we put in during the week, we do make big plays that nobody else sees.

The Cougars have three losses this season by 60 or more points and have given up less than 40 just once.

Perhaps more trying than those stats is the number of players on the roster from the preseason until this week has dropped significantly to hurt the team's depth. That has made certain players have to play the entire game because they don't have a backup and has necessitated Petties-Jackson plays all three phases of the game instead of focusing on just one or two.

Some people aren't as mentally strong as the people that are on this team now, Petties-Jackson added. Whether we've been in games at halftime or down by 70, kids are working hard trying to improve. I've never been a quitter; even through bad times I know good times will come.

After returning the opening kickoff against Wilkes in week six for 90 yards to give Misericordia its first lead in school history, Colonels coach Frank Sheptock praised Petties-Jackson. Many other coaches around the MAC have been doing the same and are regretting missing out on the player who could turn out to be a big impact player in the conference.

It's nice to get praise from other teams, but the coaches here saw something in me and that's what I like, Petties-Jackson said. Even though I didn't have big stats in high school, they saw potential. People who missed out on me, well that's on them. I'm glad I came here and I'm glad I have the chance to be the best player I can be.

It took some time for Misericordia to get into a rhythm as a team after beginning the campaign with no experience. Now, even though there aren't any victories to show for it, the Cougars are hitting stride. With just three seniors on the 68-player roster, the optimism is high for 2013.

Up Next

Lycoming at Misericordia

1 p.m. Saturday

at Mangelsdorf Field

What to know: A Lycoming win coupled with a win by Delaware Valley by 15 points or less gives Lyco the MAC championship…The Cougars could play spoiler and get their first win in school history in the process.

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