By Dionne Dean; The Whetstone
After beginning its season with four victories, Wesley’s football team stumbled in October, losing to Frostburg State, Kean, Rowan, and, during Homecoming Weekend, to Montclair.
For some team members, it’s been a heartbreaking season without legendary Coach Mike Drass, who died in May.
“After losing Drass, I feel like we came together a little more to be deeply committed and played for a bigger purpose,” senior and quarterback Ben Campbell said.
But the four losses – the latest to Christopher Newport Nov. 10 – have hurt, he said.
“With Drass we were taught to play for the player next to you,” Campbell said. “We win as a team, we play as a team. Now I feel everyone plays for themselves rather than as a team.”
It’s not because of new Coach Chip Knapp, senior and defensive end Vincent Ebron said.
“The new coach is a great coach,” Ebron said. “He always pushes us to win no matter what. He cares about us a lot.”
Ebron said without Drass it couldn’t help but be different, but he said Knapp is up to the job. It’s the players who haven’t stepped up at the right moments that made for the disappointing season.
“In my opinion, we beat ourselves every time,” he said.
Knapp said he’s disappointed about the losses, but not the team.
“We have a good team,” he said. “We lost four games by a total of five points. We have good players. We just lost some close ones.”
Junior and running back E.J. Lee agrees with Knapp’s assessment.
“I feel like the brotherhood hasn’t changed,” he said. “We have been here for each other no matter what. The most disappointing thing about the season is that we aren’t going to the playoffs.”
The Wolverines had the motivation, Lee said.
“I feel like our motivation was Coach Drass,” he said. “We were 100 percent motivated. Things just didn’t go our way.”
Knapp is very similar to Drass, Lee said.
“Coach Knapp isn’t new,” he said. “He has been here as long as Coach Drass. He knows what’s supposed to be done and he is preparing us to win, but he’s also preparing us to be young men once we graduate.”
It was a bad season because of the losses, but, like Knapp, Lee emphasized the few points that separated his team from victory in each of those losses.
“It’s just the little things that we need to work on,” he said. “I’m highly disappointed about the season and I am sure everyone else is, too. We have to get the program back to where it’s supposed to be.”
Knapp acknowledged that the season has been tough.
“Half the equation isn’t with me,” he said. “It’s been difficult. It’s a transition phase we’re going through with new coaches. Coach Drass is legendary, but we’re working through it.”
Kai Lee contributed to this report