The stage is set.
Penn sprint football will take on the undefeated Army Black Knights in the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) Championship game on Friday, Nov 10 — a showdown that is sure to be epic. Before they get too ahead of themselves, though, the Quakers (5-1) must face off against Mansfield this Friday night at Franklin Field.
While Penn is guaranteed a spot in the title game regardless of the outcome of this matchup, Friday’s contest against the Mountaineers (1-5) will certainly be of great value to the Red and Blue.
The Quakers are expecting a dogfight against Mansfield, something that will undoubtedly prepare them for their rematch versus Army.
“[Mansfield] always plays hard,” said senior wide receiver Marcus Jones, whose 80 receiving yards and two touchdowns boosted the Quakers to a 28-23 division-clinching win over Navy last Friday. “They’re going to play us probably as hard as Army’s going to play us.”
The Mountaineers have given Penn some battles in recent years, with the last game at Franklin Field between the two ending in a narrow 16-13 victory for the Red and Blue. Quinn Karam, in his fourth year playing linebacker for Penn, also knows of the Mountaineers’ no-quit attitude.
“Their offense isn’t very similar [to Army’s],” said Karam, who has notched 25 total tackles this season. “But just like Army, they’re a bunch of kids who don’t give up on any play, hit hard, and are coming in ready to play.”
Knowing that Friday’s game will be a physical one, Penn will take no chances with injuries, especially with the team being so banged up in recent weeks.
“We’re definitely using this as a week to get healthy,” Karam said. “We’re not going to force anybody who’s hurting to play in this game. If somebody feels like they need a week off, we’re gonna have the younger guys stand in and play.”
Aside from this week being one for preparation and injury recovery, it will also be of huge importance for one group in particular: the seniors.
Friday night will mark the final time the senior players compete on Franklin Field, and no one, not even the younger players, is taking this fact lightly.
“It was nice to hear some of the younger players come out and say, ‘Hey, since it’s Senior Night, let’s have the seniors go out with a win,” Karam said.
The seniors will try to put on a memorable last performance for the home crowd and build on the team’s momentum as it heads down the final stretch.
“[The seniors] are gonna come out and play harder than ever,” Jones said. “Coming off of last week, the task is to get everyone flowing together and on the same train.”
Jones, Karam, and the rest of the seniors are fortunate in that they come into this game knowing that, unlike Senior Night for many players, it will not be their last game.
Karam, for one, could not help but look ahead to the championship game, which will surely be the most important of his and his teammates’ lives.
“[This game] is bittersweet,” Karam said. “It’s always gonna be bitter because I’m not excited to be coming up to the last couple of games of my football career, but it’s sweet because I’m gonna get to go into this game with a smile on my face, knowing that we get to play in a championship the next week.”
The Quakers, for now, can afford to rest up and enjoy the moment of Senior Night.
But next week, it’s showtime.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.