EMMITSBURG, Md. — Don’t bother to tell Steve Briggs that his team’s Centennial Conference opponent this weekend, McDaniel, is also 1-7, just like his Susquehanna University Crusaders.
The reason? Well, there are two. First, Briggs and his staff have enough problems trying to patch together a competitive team from the ashes that been scattered about the program this season.
Secondly, he doesn’t want anyone to think that, because the Green Terror are 1-7, that they are not a good team.
“What we are doing is focusing more on our fundamentals. I don’t care about their record (1-7 overall, 0-7 CC). We’ve got to focus on what we do, and do it as best as we can and make plays,” he said.
The Crusaders, already without senior receiver Denzel Walker and junior fullback Tim Wade, also had to play without starting quarterback, freshman Nick Crusco, for the second half of last week’s frustrating 13-8 home loss to Franklin & Marshall.
If he allows himself to look back on the five losses that came by a touchdown or less, Briggs sees a lot of reasons the Crusaders (1-7, 0-7) could not pull those games out and sport a winning record.
“We have to make plays,” Briggs said. “We’ve had numerous drops, numerous missed assignments, we’ve had everything from blocked kicks to missed kicks and that is what happens when you’re playing a lot of young guys.
“Everybody is fighting for a win, but we are a bit undermanned,” he said.
Briggs reluctantly talked about McDaniel, saying, “I have nothing but great respect for their coaches and their players. They can beat us and they can beat us handily. Our guys know that we have to play our best football.”
Although the scoreboard has not looked favorable for the Green Terror, Briggs said that they have two outstanding senior receivers in Nick O’Melia (40 catches, 508 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Mike Oliveto (39-566, 2). “They have burned us in the past,” Briggs said, noting that both are four-year starters, with O’Melia being a fifth-year player.
He said that, defensively, “They are very young, but they are scrappy.”
Briggs also knows the talent of McDaniel sophomore rover Tyler Krebs, a Selinsgrove High grad.
“I am really impressed with Tyler Krebs and what he’s done down there. I know Tyler very well and they are a team that can win and they’ve already shown that,” Briggs said.
Krebs has started every game and has 37 tackles (24 solo) and an interception.
“They played a tough Dickinson team in a game that went back and forth (Dickinson won 33-28) and they scored over 30 points (31 in a loss) against a good Juniata team.”
Briggs also said the quarterback, sophomore Matt Callahan (112-194-1,368, 8 TDs), beat out a senior for the position and “he makes them go.”
They have good size on both lines and we know we’re in for a battle,” Briggs added.
Walker, who has a sprained MCL in his knee, will not practice this week and his status for Saturday is undetermined. The game is a homecoming for Walker, who hails from Baltimore.
Briggs said that Crusco, who injured his shoulder and didn’t practice at all last week, has returned to the practice field and will start Saturday. Wade (lower back) will not play.