David Pierre | Whetstone


The Final Hour (Death of Wesley Football)

By David Pierre

Head Coach Mike Drass and Assistant Head Coach Chip Knapp in 1993 became the spearheads in turning around the Division III Wesley College Wolverines.

During that year, the Wolverines earned a 7-3-1 record, a stellar record compared to previous teams that never won more than they lost.

It was the first year that turned the Wolverines into the eastern powerhouse people know and love today.

In 2017 Drass died unexpectedly, and the head coach position passed to current head coach Chip Knapp. 

During Knapp’s reign, the Wolverines continued Drass’ winning legacy.

But Wesley’s Division III success will end this year after Delaware State University officially acquires the college on July 1.

Many are unhappy that the legacy of Wesley College football and the program that Drass built will end.

Senior Dante Daniels, a linebacker and backbone of Wesley’s dominating defense for the past four years, said he felt a deep sadness after he heard the news.

 “Like everyone else it is a shocker and puts many in disbelief to hear that your school will no longer exist,” he said. “I’ve been stressing about this topic since I first heard the news. It’s difficult to prepare for something like this but I had to find a way to win.”

The news has forced all Wesley football players to find new homes for the skills they developed at Wesley.

“I don’t right now know what I am going to but I will continue to play football,” sophomore offensive linemen Will Valentine said.

Others, however, said they do know what their next move will be.

“One of my coaches talked to me about a couple schools and the school is holding zoom meetings regarding the transfer portal and other schools as well,” junior defensive tackle Matthew Gore said.

Many other Wolverines already left the school after fall 2020 and joined new programs. Still others have simply dropped out of school.

Senior defensive tackle Shymere Vessels, once a proud Wolverine, has moved on to play for one of Wesley’s rivals, Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania. 

“It was the best decision for me, although I wish I didn’t have to make it,” he said. “I felt this was the best course of action to continue my career on and off the field. I chose Del Val because, playing against them for three years, I knew both Del Val and Wesley had similar programs as far as winning, the players’ attitudes and determination to win and be successful, and also the coaching style was the same.”

DSU, a Division 1 program in desperate need of rebuilding, last year hired former Wesley coach Steve Azzanesi as their offensive coordinator.

For the fall 2021 season, they have offered to recruit at least seven former Wolverines, including senior Dante Daniels, junior Devin Curry, sophomore Jemuel Cypress, junior Jerrish Halsey, junior Mike Brewer, junior Ryan Clemons, sophomore Will Valentine, sophomore Taz’mire Burton, and junior David Pierre.