This is it. It is their turn. With two weeks of consecutive practice they are ready to play. Even more than that, they are ready to win. After three seasons of not quite there finishes, the seniors of the Penn sprint football team know that tonight is their turn to lay the foundations for a championship run. At 7:30 p.m. on Rip Miller Field in Annapolis, Md., Penn's Sprint Football team takes on Navy (2-1, 1-0 Collegiate Sprint Football League) -- the Quakers' first true test in a season thus-far filled with massacres of their opponents. This year the Red and Blue have vowed not to let the glory of the crown pass them by, their number is up and they are ready. With three shutouts under their belts, including their Alumni game, the Quakers will not be taken lightly. Yet, at the same time they are not taking any of their opponents lightly. Penn wants to be undefeated; they want to win the title outright. "The two big teams are Navy and Army, not that we're not respecting Cornell and Princeton. But in order to win the Championship we're going to have to get through Navy," junior Mark (last name) said. In 1996 Penn, Army and Navy - the three top teams in the league - shared the title, in 1997 Navy won the title, in 1998 Army and Penn shared the glory and in 1999 Army took home the ring. The bittersweet memory of sharing the title in 1998 and just missing it last year is still fresh in the minds of Penn's veteran squad. "This is our year to win this thing," Penn coach Bill Wagner said. "We have a veteran team that is very encouraging to us, particularly on our defensive end of the field. I also think our offense is more well rounded then it was a year ago." Last year running back Tim Ortman, in true football deity style, rushed for 363 yards on 47 carries and scored four times in the 37-14 victory against Navy. On face value this appears a considerable blow to the Quaker's offense, however this was the offensive line's only loss. The returning line boasts a seasoned Quarterback in senior John Kernan, and an offensive line that could have jobs as butchers for all the opposition they have sliced and diced. This much sweetness should be sold at the candy store. On the same token, however the Midshipmen have their own secret weapon. Senior wide receiver Brian Wilson, besides sharing the same name as the Beach Boy's songwriter, also has the noted distinction of leading Navy with 34 catches for 474 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. Despite Wilson's outstanding receiving game, the Midshipmen, under the novice helm of coach Major Austin Renforth, in response to their lack of depth at quarterback after losing 2-year starter, Drew McGinly, has decided to focus on his team's running game. A running game is Navy's best hope to control Penn's rock solid offense and keep the tempo of the game under its control. Although looking to capitalize on a running game, if forced to use their passing game, the Quakers defense is confident in their ability to stop either of Navy's game plans. "We're ready for them both ways. Whatever they throw at us we're ready for it," senior defensiveback John Clarke said. Confident in their abilities, after three consecutive shutouts, Penn's defense is ready for whatever Navy's eleven returning starters and slew of fresh faces, after losing 28 letterwinners may spring on them. But, the Quakers cannot take their opponent lightly. In the 18th-Annual Anthracite Bowl held in St. Clair, PA on October 7, Navy broke Army's two game shutout streak. A shutout streak nevertheless is not what Penn is game shutout streak. A shutout streak nevertheless is not what Penn is looking for. "It doesn't matter if they score," Wagner said. "The first concern is to win the football game. We would love to see a shutout, if we shut them out we win. But the pressure is not on the defense to have a shutout, the pressure is on the team to win the game."Comments powered by Disqus
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