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Lycoming defense must limit Wilmer to win

September 5, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

The idea sounds simple. So simplistic, in fact, that you begin to wonder if it’s really that easy to keep Aaron Wilmer under control.

The dual-threat quarterback from Delaware Valley has been a pain in opponents’ rear ends for just 13 games, but it’s enough to wonder if how long until he graduates.

Sorry to tell the Middle Atlantic Conference, but he’s just a sophomore.

Lycoming safety Ryan Fenningham said Wednesday the key to keeping Wilmer in control in Saturday’s MAC opener for both teams is to know where he is on the field at all times. Again, a simple strategy, maybe understated a bit, but in that statement lies a lot of truth.

“I know you always want to know where the quarterback is at, but just because of his capability of running the ball, just because he drops back in the pocket doesn’t mean he’s going to throw the ball,” Fenningham said. “They have a lot of designed runs where he drops back and takes off. So it’s just the field awareness of 11 guys knowing where he is at all times is going to be a big part of stopping their offense, because it all starts with him.”

The Warriors found out the hard way a year ago at just how difficult Wilmer can be to deal with. The transfer from West Chester led Delaware Valley on a 54-yard drive with under a minute to go, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left in the game to give the Aggies a 28-21 win over Lycoming.

The win knocked the Warriors out of any opportunity to win a MAC title and advance to the NCAA playoffs. But it wasn’t just that drive in which Wilmer proved to be difficult to handle. He completed 17 of 34 passes that day for a pair of touchdowns and 263 yards.

And he did it as a freshman. And he did it against the third-ranked defense in the country that featured an All-American defensive lineman in Anthony Marascio and a former All-American safety in Ray Bierbach. And just for good measure, he did it on the road, too.

“A bunch of guys said it last year, but I think he played a perfect game against us last year,” Fenningham said. “He was a lot better than what we thought he could be. We knew he could run a little bit, but we didn’t know how good his throwing was going to be. But he showed he can really put the ball into some tough spots.”

Wilmer struggled a bit in Delaware Valley’s opening-week loss last week to Rowan, throwing a pair of interceptions, but he also completed nearly 60 percent of his 49 pass attempts for better than 250 yards and a touchdown. The Warriors aren’t fooled by a rough performance, though. They have a better understanding of what Wilmer is capable of on the football field.

The Warriors also got a bit of a taste of what Wilmer will be capable of in last week’s loss to Brockport. Although not nearly as quick as Wilmer, Golden Eagles quarterback Joe Scibilia ran more than the Lycoming coaching staff expected he would out of the team’s spread formation. It’s similar kind of things Lycoming can expect this week from the Aggies and Wilmer.

“Scheme-wise, they’ll still try to spread you out some and work the numbers a bit to their advantage,” Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said. “We hope we can learn something from last week and maybe that will help us limit Aaron.”

At this point the consensus seems to be that you’re not going to stop Wilmer completely, and limiting him will be best-case scenario. His name already litters Delaware Valley’s record book in both the single-season and career categories.

His 2,729 passing yards a year ago already put him at eighth on Delaware Valley’s career passing list, and he needs just 38 yards this week to move into seventh place ahead of Mark Hatty. Those 2,729 yards last season were good enough for the third-best single-season total in school history. His career passer efficiency rating is already the best in school history, and his 59.2 completion percentage is second-best for a career in school history.

Even if he were to leave Delaware Valley today, he’d have made his mark on Aggie football. Unfortunately for the rest of the MAC, he still has at least 29 more games to play in his career.

“He was very impressive in his first year,” Clark said. “He’s a guy who makes them go offensively. You’re not going to stop him. He’s going to get his pieces, but we have to limit the major plays by him. That’s the goal.” And that goal starts with Lycoming keeping their eyes on Wilmer.

 
 

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