Rob Milanese has had today's date circled on his calendar for quite some time now.
When the Penn football team takes the field at Villanova Stadium tonight at 7 p.m., the most accomplished wide receiver in Penn football history will have something to prove.
Even though his father played for the Wildcats as a defensive back -- coincidentally, Milanese's dad played with Villanova quarterback Brett Gordon's father -- Milanese wasn't even looked at by Villanova coming out of Ramapo High School in Wyckoff, N.J.
That oversight has the elder Milanese peeved, and the younger one hyped up.
"I'll be playing on the same field as my father did," the Quakers' wideout said, with an extra hop on his step. "I've been looking forward to this game all summer."
Milanese and company have good reason to be excited.
The Quakers already knocked off a Top 10 team in then-No. 4 Lehigh two weeks ago, and a win tonight against No. 6 Villanova will firmly show that Penn is a legitimate force in Division I-AA.
"Lehigh was No. 4 and they're on our mantle right now," said Penn linebacker Travis Belden, who has a team-high 21 tackles this season. "Nothing would look better than No. 6, too. Villanova is definitely the best team that we'll face all year. It's definitely going to be a challenge for us, but I think our kids are up for it."
Tonight's game most certainly will be a challenge.
The Wildcats' offense, fueled by star quarterback Gordon and a deep receiving corps, has been extremely efficient this season, averaging 444.5 yards and 30.2 points per contest.
Villanova (5-1, 3-1 Atlantic 10) has outscored its opponents, 181-76, and has dominated the first quarter of play, 44-7.
"We have to settle down early and not get too hyped up," said Milanese, who is six catches shy of being the Quakers' all-time receptions leader. "We have to make sure we're poised and control our energy from the start."
Villanova also has a bunch of athletic players on defense, led by senior linebacker Jamison Young, who has 44 tackles, three sacks and an interception so far this year.
"They're just what you think a Top 10 team should be," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "That's not to say it will take a Herculean effort on our part. This is not Miami vs. UConn. We know we have to play well."
One thing that has the Quakers extra motivated is the lack of respect they feel the Ivy League gets when it faces teams from scholarship conferences.
Milanese and Belden, two of Penn's captains, agree that a victory tonight will be extra sweet for just that reason.
"I don't think they respect the program as much as they should," Milanese said. "From what I've heard in the past, the A-10 versus the Ivy League is no comparison. I think that's not true. We've shown that."
Belden, like Milanese, is ready to prove that Penn is indeed a Division I-AA power. And he has revenge on his mind.
"I can remember three years ago when I was a freshman, [Villanova] came down and spanked us," the Quakers' linebacker said. "Ever since then, everyone from Villanova has had a lot to say about Penn and it hasn't always been good.
"My mouth's kind of been watering and everyone's mouths are watering."Comments powered by Disqus
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