For Penn sprint football, 2019 has been no ordinary season.
The Quakers entered the year aiming to win the Collegiate Sprint Football League championship to celebrate coach Bill Wagner’s 50th and final season at the helm of the program. After a tough season–opening defeat at Army, the Quakers mounted a winning streak that made their CSFL title dreams seem like a reality. However, following a tough defeat to rival Navy, Penn was eliminated from title contention with two games left to play.
While some teams might have given up on the year, the Quakers still had plenty to play for, as they hoped to send Wagner out in style.
“We’ve been motivated by coach Wagner all season. We just want to send him out on as high a note as possible,” senior quarterback Eddie Jenkins said. “Even after the Navy loss, I think we were still motivated because of coach Wagner. Beating Alderson Broaddus in his last game on Franklin Field was really important to us, and sending [Wagner] out against Caldwell on a high note is of equal importance to us.”
For Wagner, his team’s commitment to making his final season special has been visible from the start. Even after the Quakers were eliminated from title contention, Wagner had no doubt they would continue playing hard.
“This team’s attitude has been extremely outstanding and unbelievable. Even in our tough losses, they totally gave every ounce of energy and competitiveness,” Wagner said. “[Following the Navy loss], they came right back. They answered the bell.”
Aside from sending Wagner out on a high note, the end of the Quakers' season has also been characterized by Jenkins’ run for CSFL MVP. This season, Jenkins has been a threat both through the air and on the ground. His versatility has allowed him to generate the impressive on-field performances that have paved the way for him to lead the CSFL in both total scoring and total offense. Jenkins has been especially dangerous on the ground this season, ranking fifth in the League in rushing despite being a quarterback.
In spite of his impressive individual success, Jenkins remains focused on the efforts of his team rather than his own personal accolades.
“[Jenkins] makes our team better, he makes other players around him better, and he’s a class act,” Wagner said. “But he realizes that all of that success is team stuff and not just Eddie Jenkins, and he makes everybody aware of that.”
Paired with the emotions of Wagner’s final games as coach, Jenkins’ run for MVP has made the end of this season exciting for the Red and Blue. Although they would jump at the chance to play for a CSFL title, the Quakers know that there is more to the game than playing under the lights with a championship on the line.
“As a team in general, we just play for the love of the game,” Jenkins said. “Even though we can’t win a championship this year, I think we’ve come out and shown that we love playing football, whether it’s for a championship or just going out there and playing hard for the guys on the team.”
This weekend, Penn will travel to face Caldwell in what will be the final game in not only their season but also in the careers of both Wagner and the team’s seniors. Although the game’s outcome may not mean anything to the CSFL standings, it will mean everything to the Red and Blue.