Saturday’s winner has work to do
Please don’t let the following 700 words fool you. Saturday’s game at David Person Field is huge.
The story of the 2013 season for both Lycoming and Delaware Valley is going to likely contain multiple chapters on this game. The Warriors and Aggies are the only two unbeaten teams left remaining in Middle Atlantic Conference play. And Delaware Valley is the last remaining team in the MAC without a loss this season.
The winner Saturday is the only team in the MAC which still controls its own destiny for a MAC title and an NCAA tournament spot. So the ramifications for 60 minutes of football Saturday are monumental.
But – and there’s a big but – nothing is going to be decided when the clock reaches zero in two days. There’s still far too much football left to play in the season to think the winner Saturday is raising a championship banner.
“We know what’s at stake and it’s going to be a great environment for a football game,” Lycoming linebacker Kyle Sullivan said. “But we have to look at it as one game at a time. Just take care of Saturday, and that’s what we’re focused on now.”
In the realm of a 10-game season, Lycoming understands the place of Saturday’s game. It’s no different than the meaning on last week’s game with Widener. The victory over the Pride was huge, and any other year may have been a season-defining win. But it’s merely a step in the course of a 1,000-mile march that is a college football season.
When Lycoming and Delaware Valley finish up their game Saturday afternoon, both teams’ season will be just halfway completed. Look at the remaining schedules for both teams. Stevenson, Lebanon Valley and Albright litter the back half of Lycoming’s schedule. Three teams with a combined 8-4 record overall, and all of which plan to have a say in just who wins the MAC title.
Delaware Valley doesn’t have it much easier with matchups against Widener, Lebanon Valley and Wilkes still on its schedule following this weekend’s game. While the winner Saturday would like to put in that order for a 2013 MAC Championship banner, that move would be quite premature.
Consider that just two weeks ago the Aggies needed a last-second field goal to beat Albright on the road. Consider that Stevenson held a 17-7, first-half lead against Delaware Valley before the Aggies poured it on in the second half last week.
While Lycoming head coach Mike Clark would love for this weekend to be a de facto conference championship game, he’s not naive enough to think that it is.
“There’s a good chance we’re going to play a Lebanon Valley team next week with probably a 4-1 record,” Clark said. “Then maybe we catch our breath during the bye week, then we get the gift of playing Albright, who only had one less first-place vote than we did in the preseason coaches poll. There’s so much time left in the year, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
It’s a completely difference scenario than when Delaware Valley came to David Person Field a couple years ago. A win from Lycoming would have given them a MAC championship in the ninth week of the season, barring a monumental upset in Week 10 against FDU-Florham.
Even last year’s Week 7 game against Widener, another matchup of MAC unbeatens, because of what remained on Lycoming’s schedule there was a touch of finality in the outcome. This is completely different, though. There’s going to be absolutely no finality Saturday.
The bottom line is either Lycoming or Delaware Valley is still going to have a lot of work to do to become MAC champion.
“We know it’s a big game, and what’s at stake, but it’s more about just trying to grow throughout the season,” Sullivan said. “It would be big to be in first place in the MAC, that’s our goal at the end of the season.”
“Is it huge? Yes,” Clark said. “Do we want to put ourselves in a position where if we continue to win we win a championship? Yes. But again, I can’t order a 2013 banner yet.”
Mitch Rupert covers Lycoming football for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.