By Cochise Lucas and Kim Manahan
Despite losing four key players who were arrested for burglary over Thanksgiving break, the Wesley football team beat Mary Hardin-Baylor 19-9 to advance into the NCAA Division III semi-finals against the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks on Dec. 11 at home.
The Wolverines beat the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders in the quarterfinals Dec. 4 in the closest score of the playoffs yet.
Zach Johnson, a linebacker coach, believed defeating Baylor was Wesley’s toughest task so far.
“I’m confident in the team,” he said before the game, despite the arrests. “They’re going to be missed on the team, but were a strong team and we’ll pull together.”
Wesley took the lead in the first quarter, with Ellis Krout catching a 24-yard pass from Justin Sottilare.
Alan Munzo kicked a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Crusaders on the score board.
Minutes later, Dan Tryon kicked a 31 yard field goal to bring Wesley to ahead by six. He kicked another one in the second quarter.
Krout caught a 23-yard pass from Sottilare in the third, bringing Wesley’s total to 19.
Quincy Daniels made a 42-yard run in the fourth for Mary Hardin-Baylor, scoring the last points of the game. LiDarral Bailey’s two-point conversion pass failed.
Both the victory and the arrests were on the minds of both players and fans after the Dec. 4 game.
“I don’t think that it will affect the game,” said quarterback Shane McSweeny. “They have key roles to the team, but we have a lot of depth.”
Senior Jenn Eckstein said the football team will overcome the loss of the four players.
“That’s horrible that someone would do that,” she said. “I hope the people get their things back. I like the football team, and I think we’re great no matter what. People make mistakes, but that doesn’t change how I feel about our team and our school.”
McSweeny said that the arrests on the players do not make the school look good, but it wasn’t going to hold the team back.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “But we’re a team, and we’ll push forward.”