Big challenge awaits Lyco rush defense

Kyle Schuberth had Mike Clark’s attention. His high school highlight tape was impressive and the Lycoming head football coach was very aware of the Monsignor Bonner senior running back.

The recruiting of Schuberth likely wasn’t as heavy as it could have been had he gone to another school. He ran for just over 100 yards as a senior at the Drexel Hill high school.

You see, Schuberth was stuck in a tough situation, No. 2 on the depth chart behind a tailback named Eric Petransky. When given an opportunity, Schuberth was excelling, averaging better than 4 yards per carry his senior year.

But Petransky was a special player. He holds the Bonner single-season rushing record at over 1,500 yards in the Philadelphia Catholic League in 2009.

Despite getting just 26 carries as a senior, Schuberth turned heads, and as a heavy recruiter in southeast Pennsylvania, he was on Lycoming’s radar. Schuberth decided to go another route, enrolling at Delaware Valley following graduation at Bonner in 2010.

It’s a decision which has worked out well for both Schuberth and Delaware Valley. Now a senior and a preseason All-American, Schuberth leads the Aggies into David Person Field on Saturday against Lycoming in a matchup of the only two teams without a loss in Middle Atlantic Conference play.

A two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Aggies, Schuberth has averaged better than 5 yards per carry for his career. He’s a returning All-MAC first-team selection who is third on the career rushing list and second on the career rushing touchdowns list for Delaware Valley.

And he was a high school backup.

“I’m not shocked. He was good (in high school),” Clark said earlier this week. “He’s an all-conference guy. I’m not surprised to see him come back the way he has.”

Schuberth missed the first two games of the season as Delaware Valley came back for a win over Rowan before dominating Misericordia. But for as good as the Aggies’ run game was in the first two games (195 yards per game), it’s been even better since Schuberth returned the last two weeks (257 yards per game).

He’s the leading rusher in the MAC in the last two weeks which includes a 214 yards, four-touchdown performance in last week’s first-place matchup against Stevenson. He also ran for 148 yards and a touchdown in a three-point win two weeks ago against Albright, a game Delaware Valley won on a last-second field goal.

“He’s really good,” Lycoming linebacker Kyle Sullivan said. “He’s been the best rusher in the MAC. We have a big challenge ahead of us, but we’re excited.”

The balance Schuberth provides to the Delaware Valley offense is imperative. The Aggies’ pro-style offense is similar in certain respects to what Lycoming does on a weekly basis.

It’s not an offense which is predicated on throwing the ball 40 times a week. In fact, if Delaware Valley and quarterback Aaron Wilmer are throwing the ball 40 times, things probably aren’t going very well offensively.

Finding a way to make the Aggies one-dimensional is important for Lycoming’s defense, but it’s a tall task. Delaware Valley wants to get Schuberth his 20 carries a game, and at 5 yards per carry – or 6 yards this season – that’s a dangerous proposition for opposing defenses.

“They’re tough on us preparation-wise,” Lycoming safety Tanner Troutman said. “They’re pretty much 50/50 run/pass. You can’t go out there and put more emphasis on the run or the pass.”

The Warriors did a nice job neutralizing Schuberth a year ago, allowing just 84 yards on 22 carries. And take away a 23-yard jaunt and Schuberth averaged under 3 yards per carry. The Aggies got into a position where they were down 10 points late and Wilmer had to throw 37 passes into a tough secondary.

Wilmer completed just 17 passes a year ago and was intercepted once as Delaware Valley averaged just 3.3 yards per carry as a team.

“A good football team has good balance, which is why we want to make them one dimensional,” Sullivan said. “As the game goes on it gets tougher and tougher to throw and if you’re throwing that much it’s usually because you’re behind. If the defense knows you’re passing the ball, it’s hard to complete passes.”