August 28, 2018

Delaware Valley University Game One Football Preview at Wesley College Wolverines

Photo by John Green
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – A pair of 2017 conference winners and NCAA Division III playoff qualifiers will meet in the 2018 season opener as No. 17 Delaware Valley University travels to ninth-ranked Wesley College on Friday night, August 31. Kickoff at Drass Field at Scott D. Miller Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.


It marks the third straight that the two Division III powerhouses have met in a season opener. In 2016, DelVal made the trip to Dover, Delaware a successful one with a 21-14 triumph. Last year, the teams met in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and the Aggies jumped to an early lead before holding on for a 24-19 victory.

Both teams went onto to win their conference championships as DelVal went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season and captured the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) crown while the Wolverines went 9-1 and took home their third consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title. The two were slated to meet again in the NCAA quarterfinals, but Wesley fell in the second round to The College at Brockport, 49-28. The Aggies then rallied from a 28-7, fourth-quarter deficit before falling on a last-second field goal to Brockport in the quarterfinals.  

DelVal is the preseason favorite to repeat as MAC champions while the Wolverines are the coaches’ pick in the NJAC.

DELAWARE VALLEY UNIVERSITY 

Duke Greco has amassed an astounding 39-7 record and postseason appearances each year during his first four years as head coach of his alma mater. Last year’s run to a 12-1 record saw him named as the MAC Coach of the Year and the Maxwell Football Club Tri-State Coach of the Year.

Greco has just nine starters back from the ’17 roster, including five on the offensive side. Heading the cast of returnees is senior and two-time all-MAC quarterback Dashawn Darden (Norristown, PA/Cardinal O’Hara). Darden took over the starting quarterback duties midway through his freshman season and has not looked back. In fact, he is a dual threat and is actually in the Aggie all-time top 10 in both passing (fifth - 4,954 yards) and rushing (10th - 1,799 yards).

Last year, Darden was a second-team honoree as he completed 163 of 295 passes for 2,408 yards and 27 touchdowns while being intercepted just six times. He also rushed for 704 yards (tops among returnees) and nine scores on 142 attempts.

The top two returnees in receptions are a pair of juniors in tight end Dan Allen (Collingdale, PA/Penn Wood) and wideout Aaron Nelson (Hampstead, MD/North Carroll). Allen hauled in 21 passes for 423 yards and six touchdowns, including two scores in the NCAA second-round win over Husson. He was a second-team, all-MAC selection. Nelson was the team’s deep threat in ’17 as he notched 14 receptions for 317 yards and four trips to the end zone.

Two returning starters at offensive skill positions are seniors John Graham (Philadelphia, PA/Prep Charter) and Austin O’Neill (Levittown, PA/Pennsbury). Graham, a wideout, caught 16 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. O’Neill played a key role in the DelVal rushing attack from his fullback spot and was a second-team all-MAC selection.

Up front, the Aggies return a pair of starters in junior Thomas McCloughan (Lambertville, NJ/South Hunterdon) and sophomore Hess Jenkins (Philadelphia, PA/Prep Charter). McCloughan (6-1, 280) has been a two-year starter at left guard and will be sliding over to center
this year. Jenkins (6-3, 302) is back at his right guard position.   

On the defensive side of the ball, only two starters are back from a dominating unit that allowed just 10.5 points per game in 2017. Both returning starters were all-MAC picks in first-teamer Christian Snowden (Williamstown, NJ/St, Joseph Hammonton) and second-teamer Vincent DiLeo (Philadelphia, PA/Bishop McDevitt).

Snowden, now a senior, shined in his first year as a starter at defensive end as he notched 57 tackles, five sacks, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

DiLeo was at the other end in DelVal’s 3-4 scheme, but the junior will move back to outside linebacker this year. He finished the ’17 campaign with 30 tackles and a team-best 8.5 sacks. He had 3.5 sacks in the NCAA playoffs, including three in the second-round win over Husson.

A young trio of linebackers will move into starting roles in juniors Ryan Barrett (Willow Grove, PA/Archbishop Wood) and Billy Walsh (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) and sophomore Anthony Tedesco (Ocean, NJ/Ocean Township). The three saw time last season and combined for 52 tackles and two sacks.

Both specialists return for the Aggies including All-America punter Stephen Adams (Bordentown, NJ/Nottingham). Adams finished 19th in Division III and second on the Aggies' single-season list with an average of 40.5 yards per kick. He placed 20 of his 58 boots inside the opponent's 20-yard line and had six kicks of 50 or more yards (long of 62).

Junior Colin Fasolka (Whitehall, PA/Allentown Central Catholic) was 29-for-37 on extra-point attempts for 29 points last season. Nick Restaino (Bloomfield, NJ/Bloomfield) is also back after missing the ’17 season with an injury. He kicked seven field goals and notched 98 points in his first two years with DelVal.


WESLEY COLLEGE

It has been an emotional offseason for the Wolverines with the sudden passing of longtime head coach Mike Drass. Drass notched a 229-61 record and 14 NCAA playoff berths over 26 years at the helm. Longtime assistant Chip Knapp was elevated to head coach.

Wesley returns seven all-NJAC players from last year, including junior tailback and Offensive Player of the Year E.J. Lee. Lee carried the ball 277 times for 1,582 yards and 22 touchdowns a season ago. He also caught 26 passes for 252 yards and two trips to the end zone.

Khaalig Burroughs took over as quarterback following the DelVal game a season ago and was eventually named to the all-NJAC team. He completed 178 of 290 passes for 2,483 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was also the team’s second leading rusher with 357 yards and six scores on 79 attempts.

Seniors all-NJAC picks Alex Kemp and Andrew Eagle are back at wideout and tight end respectively. Kemp caught 59 passes for 934 yards and six touchdowns while Eagle had 19 grabs for 265 yards and one score.

Senior free safety Cappadonna Miller was also an all-conference pick as he finished the ’17 campaign with 82 tackles and five interceptions. Fellow senior Daquay Harris-Winbush is also back in the secondary at cornerback after notching 29 tackles, six pass breakups and an interception a season ago.