Pride a challenge for Warrior O-line
Three steps are going to be key for Dan Sipps and his Lycoming offensive line teammates in Saturday’s game against Widener. Those first three steps after the ball is snapped, that’s where the block can be won and lost.
And with a defensive front as good as the Pride’s, the margin for error is slim. In those three steps Sipps and his teammates need to be prepared for the size and strength of a line which is also quicker than their size would lead you to believe.
In those three steps, they set themselves up to run block and pass block and make an offense move which has averaged nearly 450 yards of offense over its last three games.
“They’re fast, they’re big, they’re strong. They’re good,” Sipps said. “We have to be good technique-wise, make our steps and match their physicality. I think we’re up to the task, but they’re a good defensive line.”
The task, as it has been in recent years against Lycoming, is dealing with the Pride’s defensive line. Two years ago when Lycoming last visited Chester, the Warriors suffered their worst loss of head coach Mike Clark’s 10-year tenure. And part of that was because Widener recorded 11 sacks.
That day was the low point in the current reconstruction of the Lycoming program, and it’ll face another challenge this week because of returning first-team All-MAC defensive linemen Vince Char and Casey Kerschner. The two are some of the best in the conference at playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
They’re tied atop the conference statistics in tackles for loss with 12. Kerschner is tops in the league with six sacks, Char is fourth with 4 1/2. They’re 520 pounds of man who have been imposing figures for each offense they’ve played this year.
Lycoming is expecting nothing different.
“Big, fast, athletic, tough and experienced. They’re all of those things,” Clark said. “It’s not four guys like it was the last couple years, but the two guys they have, they’re good players.”
As much as those two disrupt what opposing offenses are going, they’re not the only reason the Pride are among the top defenses in the MAC. It’s a collective effort, one which has second-team All-MAC defensive back Jordan Powell leading the league in interceptions while also posting 10 tackles for loss.
This is a Widener defense which is allowed just 11.7 points per game and four times has allowed fewer than 10 points in a game.
“Of all the people we play against, they’re as well-coached and as much a pain in the rear end as anyone we play against,” Clark said. “I don’t want to say you can’t figure out what they do, because what they do isn’t real complex. But they’re a really good disguise team. They don’t just line up and play.”
It’s all just another challenge for a Lycoming offense which has grown leaps and bounds over the last four weeks. This is not the same Warriors team which started the season 0-3, dropping a pair of one-score games to Susquehanna and Albright.
This is a Lycoming team whose offense has been as potent as any in the league as its won three consecutive games. And part of that has been because a young offensive line has begun to come together and keep quarterback Chase Williams clean. Lycoming has allowed just one sack during its three-game winning streak.
It’s a number Sipps and the offensive line is proud of and one they know they have to keep going if they want to leave Chester with a win Saturday.
“We don’t want Chase getting hit,” Sipps said. “It’s our goal every week to keep Chase clean. Sacks are drive-killers. Penalties are drive-killers. That’s all a focus for us.”
“I think we grow up a little bit every week,” Clark said. “We’re significantly better than we were those first few weeks. We figured out how to use some pieces and how everything fits. Chase continues to get better. I would say we’re going into this game no differently than any other ones, but we’re in a better place.”