Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Wilkes Football Game Preview vs. the King’s Monarchs

A www.MACfb.com File Photo
Wilkes University closes out the 2017 season heading to cross-town rival King’s College for the 22nd annual Mayor’s Cup game at McCarthy Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Colonels are coming off a 44-12 home loss to Stevenson University while King’s suffered a 27-6 setback at Widener last Saturday.

Trey Brown (Colorado ‘93) is in his fourth season at the helm of the Wilkes football program following his hiring prior to the 2014 season. In just three years, Brown has coached 22 Colonels who earned All-MAC honors including first team tight end Jeremy Hartman in 2014, defensive end Jason Ugwu in 2015 and tight end Garrett Armstrong in 2016. Under Brown’s guidance, the Colonels offense ranked in the top five in several offensive statistical categories including passing yards and plays per-game. In a game at Delaware Valley in 2014, the Wilkes offense ran 113 plays, a Division III regulation game record. In 2016, the Colonels recorded one of the biggest upset victories in the program’s history when it bested No. 12 Stevenson University 38-35 on the road. Brown came to Wilkes after four years serving as the quarterbacks and special teams’ coordinator at Muhlenberg. In his role with the Mules, Brown was responsible for coaching the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and special teams as well as the installation of the pass game. Prior to his time at Muhlenberg, Brown spent four seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Lehigh University.

Jeff Knarr (East Stroudsburg ‘94) enters his eighth season at King’s. Knarr came to King’s after serving 11 years as an assistant coach at Muhlenberg where he spent the last four years as offensive coordinator. He was instrumental in helping the Mule program to six Centennial Conference championships and five NCAA Division III National Playoff berths. King’s offense has continued to evolve under Knarr as the Monarchs led the Middle Atlantic Conference in 2016 with 414.8 total yards per-game and 287.3 passing yards each contest. Since 2012, Knarr has produced 19 All-Middle Atlantic Conference selections. King’s players also excel in the classroom under Knarr as 106 Monarchs have been named to the MAC Academic Honor Roll.

This will be the 31st meeting between the two schools, with Wilkes holding a 21-9 advantage in the series. King’s posted a 42-14 win in last season’s meeting at Schmidt Stadium. Wilkes also holds a 14-7 lead in Mayor’s Cup games since the teams began playing for the cup in 1996. The Mayor’s Cup tradition began with former Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas McGroarty and has remained intact through today with current Mayor Tony George presiding. The last Colonels win in the series was a 24-17 win in the 2015 edition of the contest.

- Wilkes is tenth in the MAC in scoring offense (14.1), tenth in total offense (295.2), seventh in rushing offense (111.9), and ninth in passing offense (183.3).

- Freshman quarterback Nicholas Geimer made his third career start and first at home last Saturday against Stevenson going 32-of-44 for a career-high 307 yards. He had one touchdown through the air and added a second on the ground where he rushed 24 times for 71 yards. Geimer is fourth in the MAC in rushing yards with 454 and second in rushing yards per-game averaging 75.7. He also ranks first in the MAC in completion percentage this season at 63.5%. Fellow freshman quarterback Wade Rippeon is 94-of-159 for a team-leading 723 yards through the air this season.

- The top target all season in the Wilkes passing game has been Pre-season All-American and All-MAC selection Garrett Armstrong. The senior leads the team with 56 receptions for 548 yards and five touchdowns from the tight end position. His 56 catches rank sixth in the MAC this season and his 127 career receptions rank eighth all-time at Wilkes. He has 1,272 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career.

- Last week wide receiver Jeff Steeber made a career-high seven catches for 76 yards. He leads the team with 626 all-purpose yards. Senior wide receiver Aaron Coyne is third on the team with 30 receptions and three touchdowns. Sophomore Derek Nelson caught a career-high five balls for 49 yards last week. Freshman Nick Yanik has 12 receptions in the last three games for 110 yards and has also rushed six times in the past two contests.

- Sophomore running back Shane Deemer caught a career-best four passes out of the backfield against Stevenson. He is the leading running back for Wilkes with 84 carries for 237 yards and one touchdown.

- Wilkes is tied for ninth in the MAC in scoring defense (39.8), ninth in total defense (461.3), ninth in rushing defense (187.4), and ninth in passing defense (273.9).

- Sophomore linebacker Bud Moyer was right on his season average with 10 tackles against Stevenson and is second in the MAC with 90 tackles. He leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Junior linebacker Lukas Wood is fourth with 81 tackles.

- Senior defensive back Isaiah Robinson leads Wilkes and is tied for fifth in the conference with 12.0 tackles-for-loss. He had two interceptions against Misericordia including one that he returned for a touchdown. Against Albright he forced his third fumble of the season and sophomore defensive lineman Vinnie Werner was able to recover the fumble for a touchdown.

- Senior safety Jacob Brook is ninth in the conference with 70 tackles and recorded his second interception of the season against Stevenson. Senior cornerback Casey Evans made seven tackles and a team-high six solo last Saturday. Robinson, Brook, and Evans all have two interceptions this season.

- The Monarchs rank fourth in the MAC in scoring offense (28.4), second in total offense (414.4), fourth in rushing offense (137.7) and fourth in passing offense (276.8).

- Senior quarterback Zach Whitehead is third in the MAC with 2,439 passing yards. He was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Week on September 17 when he recorded five total touchdowns in a 44-39 win at Lebanon Valley. He has rushed 155 times for 302 yards on the season.

- Junior running back Jordan Downes is second in the league with 584 rushing yards this season.

- Senior wide receiver Tyler Marroni was the MAC Offensive Player of the Week on October 8 when he caught 10 balls for 234 yards and three touchdowns against Misericordia. He is second in the conference with 997 receiving yards and third with 65 catches.

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