The Wilmington College football team takes to the road this week, traveling to Otterbein for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff in Ohio Athletic Conference action.
“They have been pretty loose this week, which is encouraging,” said WC head coach Bryan Moore, a 1999 graduate of Hiram College. “You can feel the mindset shifting from a hope to win mentality, to an expect to win mentality.”
In his fourth year as WC head coach, Moore has coached at Bluffton and Heidelberg. Wilmington won last season’s meeting with Otterbein 28-27 in the finale but overall the Cardinals have won 14 of 20 games since Wilmington joined the OAC for the 2000 season.
Wilmington opened the season last week at Townsend Field with a 26-21 win over Capital University. Otterbein was defeated by Ohio Northern 17-7 in its opener.
“Otterbein is a very well-coached football team,” Moore said. “This is their first home game in over a year so we will, without a doubt, get their best shot.”
Moore said Fred Hardgrove is the key to the Cardinals squad on both sides of the ball. Moore said he started at corner and quarterback last week.
Coming off the win last week, WC”s Kyle Barrett was named OAC Offensive Player of the Week while the entire offensive line, including Blanchester product Dylan Fawley, was named to the d3football.com Team of the Week.
Barrett threw for 379 yards and two touchdowns last week. Receivers Ace Taylor and Lathan Jones caught at least 100 yards last week while Itika Wynn Jr. caught the game-winning pass in the final minute.
“We still need to sharpen the saw when it comes (to) taking care of the football,” said Moore. “We outgained them by close to 300 yards, had twice as many first downs and controlled the time of possession, yet we had to execute (the long) drive to pull off the win. We had three turnovers to their none.”
Wilmington ran for 171 yards against Capital. Otterbein allowed 166 yards to ONU.
The offense was strong throughout last week, but outstanding when it had to be. WC put together a 16-play, 99-yard drive to win the game late in the fourth quarter against the Crusaders.
The defense for the Quakers put Capital in a passing mentality. Led by Xzerious Stinnett, Tavion Bryant and Jalaun Covington, Wilmington held Capital to a total of negative two yards rushing.
“We definitely didn’t do anything scheme-wise that was out of the ordinary for coach Filli (defensive coordinator Corey Fillipovich),” said Moore. “Capital has an all-new staff and it was Week 1 so there wasn’t much of a game plan to scheme up against them.”
Covington also had two sacks while Jared Lee and Brandon Weaver had one sack each.
“We were missing two of our starting defensive linemen last week, so some inexperienced guys were put into starting roles and they were ready for their moment,” Moore said. “We still have a few freshmen playing for us on that side of the ball. I hope we continue to get better in the next four weeks.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports