The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 17, 2013

Todd Hummel's college football column: 'Absolute joy' for Bloomsburg's seniors


Daily Item

---- — Mount Carmel graduate Chris Steck and Selinsgrove graduate Matt Wenrich are part of one of the winningest classes in Bloomsburg University football history.

But most of their seasons ended in disappointment.

Their freshman season came to a halt with two losses to Mercyhurst in three weeks -- one in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship game and the other in the NCAA Division II playoffs. In 2011 and 2012, Bloomsburg started both seasons 8-0 before dropping key games which cost them a PSAC-East Division title. The 2011 struggles cost them a playoff berth, while last season ended with two losses to Shippensburg, including 58-20 in the playoffs.

That's what made Saturday afternoon at Danny Hale Field at Robert Redman Stadium so special for the Huskies. On what could have been their final game at home, seniors like Steck, Wenrich and standout tailback Franklyn Quiteh helped Bloomsburg rally to 42-38 victory in the PSAC Championship game over Slippery Rock.

If you get a chance to see a picture on the Huskies' website (buhuskies.com), you can see the absolute joy on the faces Steck, a senior captain and starter of 46 consecutive games since 2010, and Quiteh right in the middle of the photo holding the PSAC trophy.

Glenn Hutton, Jr., Jonathan Patrick, Larry Webster, Brian Clarke, Matt Feiler, Ian Murray, Danny Fisher and Chris Kennedy were the other seniors honored before Saturday's game. The senior class is now 39-8 overall, 20-2 at Redman Stadium in their careers.

With the win over The Rock, the Huskies moved up in the regional rankings, earning a No. 2-seed and a bye in next week's NCAA first round. Bloomsburg (9-1) will host the winner of this week's West Chester-American International contest at Redman Stadium on Nov. 30.

It would be interesting to see if the turmoil surrounding the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship game between Winston Salem State and Virginia State had any impact in the rankings.

Winston Salem State was ranked ahead of the Huskies and in line for a home game with a victory over fellow 9-1 Virginia State, but a Virginia State running back was charged with assaulting the Winston Salem State quarterback in the bathroom Thursday at the CIAA banquet to honor both teams before the title game.

Friday afternoon the CIAA cancelled this year's championship game because of incident. Without the game, Winston Salem State -- last year's regional champion and national semifinalist -- dropped out of the top two spots and will host Slippery Rock with the right to travel top-seed Shepherd on the line.

The CIAA also announced Virginia State was ineligible for postseason play this year.

Mifflinburg graduate Michael Wiand, a freshman linebacker at Penn State University, played on special teams for the Nittany Lions in their victory over Purdue on Saturday. Wiand is one of the 39 true freshmen on the Penn State roster. Joining him are Lewisburg graduate Brandon Smith at fullback for the Nittany Lions, while Warrior Run graduate Austin Fielder is an offensive tackle.

The Nittany Lions roster is comprised of 72 percent underclassmen (80 of 110) this season.

Mount Carmel graduate Marcus Wasilewski led Maine to its first ever Colonial Athletic Conference championship and its first outright conference title since 1965 with Saturday afternoon's 41-0 victory over Rhode Island.

With 10 victories this season, 2013 Black Bears became only the second team in school history with double-digit victories, joining the 2002 squad which tied for the Atlantic 10 championship.

Maine is the No. 6-ranked team in the country in the FCS and has won 12 consecutive games against FCS opponents. Maine's only loss in that stretch came on the road against Northwestern this past September.

The win earned the Black Bears the CAA's automatic berth in the FCS playoff field. Maine has one final game, a road contest with rival New Hampshire. A victory by Maine would earn them a first-round bye and a home game in the NCAA FCS playoffs.

n Todd Hummel covers college football for The Daily Item. Email comments to sports@dailyitem.com.