Hard work and commitment pay off, and nobody has exemplified this quite like Penn sprint football coach Bill Wagner. On Saturday night, Wagner concluded his 50-year career with the Red and Blue with a hard-earned, 31-21 victory against Caldwell.
Along with Wagner, Penn (5-2) said goodbye to the senior class. The team's biggest loss from this group will undoubtedly be quarterback Eddie Jenkins, who earned first team All-Collegiate Sprint Football League honors in 2017 and is one of the frontrunners for CSFL Most Valuable Player this year.
“I don’t think it has really hit me yet; I’ve been playing sports for a long time," Jenkins said. "It’s hard to believe that my athletic career is over, but like I said, I don’t really think I’ve put it into perspective yet. Through the next couple of weeks I’m sure it will hit me.”
On Saturday, the Quakers faced stiff competition against the Cougars (2-5), who scored a rushing touchdown to draw first blood. Penn quickly returned the points, throwing seven up on the board with a rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Laquan McKever.
The rest of the game was a back-and-forth affair, but Penn never fell behind for the rest of the contest. Following the initial scoring drives from each team, the Quakers scored another touchdown, and Caldwell answered with seven more points.
At this point, it was clear that the Red and Blue weren't going to cruise to victory, and there was much on the line in terms of sending Wagner and the senior players out on a high note.
With the game tied at 14, junior defensive back Joshua Trybus intercepted quarterback Timothy Palmer, which led to a drive that secured three more points for the team.
Soon after, Jenkins threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Billy Murphy, which brought the score to 24-14. Trybus picked off another pass, and finished the season with a league-high seven interceptions.
The Quakers clinched the win with a 59-yard rushing touchdown by Jenkins in the final minutes of the game.
“I was really proud of the team for fighting all game long," Jenkins said. "Caldwell came out really strong, and really fought hard all game, and for us to persevere and have a hard-fought win, I was really proud. And for us to be able to send Coach Wagner out with a win which he deserves, I’m really proud.”
Since joining the CSFL in 2017, Caldwell is 0-3 against the Red and Blue, but this year's contest was by far the most competitive. As for Wagner, it's only fitting that he is retiring after a victory.
“Coach Wagner is one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had. The amount of knowledge he has about the game of football through his 50 years of experience is incredible," Jenkins said. "He’s really taught all of us to be great football players, and great people off the field over the years, and that’s something we’re all thankful for.”