By the start of the weekend, we will know one of the favorites to advance to the Collegiate Sprint Football League title game.
On Friday, Penn sprint football will make the trip to Annapolis, Md. to face Navy in a game that could very well decide which team represents the South Division in the CSFL championship.
The Quakers (3-1, 1-0 South) are coming off their first divisional game, a 42-32 victory over Chestnut Hill, and are fueled by a potent running game that is the driving force behind the top offense in the League. The Red and Blue currently lead the CSFL with just under 45 points and more than 445 yards per game.
Navy (4-0, 2-0) has not put up such gaudy numbers on offense, but the Midshipmen remain the only undefeated team in League play behind a stout defense that has yet to allow more than 17 points in a single game.
The combination of sophomore running back Laquan McKever and senior quarterback Eddie Jenkins has made the Quakers the most dangerous rushing attack in the CSFL. The pair has amassed a total of 895 yards on the ground and 17 rushing touchdowns, with Jenkins accounting for 11 on his own.
All of this bodes extremely well going into a game against a team whose weak spot on defense is the defensive line. Navy senior linebacker David Postma is second in the League with 36 total tackles, but this could be due to the inability of the defensive line in front of him to stuff the run.
“The reason [Postma] has all the tackles he has this year is because their front four is a little weaker than they have been in the past, and he just sits back and makes tackles,” Penn senior center Matthew Hermann said.
While Navy may be the fifth-best rushing defense, allowing just under 83 yards per game on the ground, it’s what they’ve put on film that tells the true story.
“Teams have been able to run the ball fairly well against them, and we are the No. 1 rushing offense in the League by a fair margin,” Hermann said.
Hermann is the centerpiece of an offensive line that has time and time again sprung Jenkins and McKever for huge gains on the ground. The front five for the Quakers has been bullying opposing defensive lines all season, especially in goal-to-go situations where they tend to run Jenkins right up the middle.
For Hermann, the strategy for the offense will be pretty simple on Friday.
“We’re just going to go out there and try to have our front five beat their front five,” he said.
Winning the battle in the trenches is easier said than done, especially considering the magnitude of the game. The winner will likely go on to represent the South in the CSFL title game, as every other team in the division has already suffered at least one divisional loss.
Despite the added pressure of championship implications, the Quakers are accustomed to the big stage.
“Playing Navy, it’s not too tough to get excited for that one,” Jenkins said. “We know every year that to get to the championship we have to go through Navy.”
Added motivation could come from a disappointing loss against the Midshipmen a year ago that ended the Quakers’ season.
The Red and Blue also fell to Chestnut Hill a year ago, so they’re hoping to carry the momentum from a victory in one revenge game right into the next. For Jenkins, however, the approach to this game remains more or less the same.
“Every year we know this is a must-win game, and this year is no different,” Jenkins said.
After the dust settles, the Quakers are hoping that they’ll be the team in prime position to secure a berth in the CSFL championship.
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