DOVER, Del. - "The playoffs started in week four for us."
That was what Wesley Football Head Coach Mike Drass said in a national column featured on D3football.com a few weeks ago. He wasn't kidding. The Wolverines have been in a must-win situation every week of the season since starting the year at 1-2. But now after a five-game winning streak the team is in control of its own destiny.
With two games remaining on the schedule, the Wolverines are tied atop the New Jersey Athletic Conference standings at 6-1, alongside Frostburg State University, whom the Wolverines beat earlier this season, and this week's opponent No. 18 Salisbury University.
The team hasn't looked into the standings much. They haven't explored tiebreaker scenarios, what-ifs, out-of-town results, or any of the other outside noise. The Wolverines are about one thing: Going 1-0.
This weekend the squad battles No. 18 Salisbury University, the team who dealt them their only regular season loss last year, the team who gave them their first home loss since 2012, the team who nabbed the NJAC automatic qualifying bid last season. But for the Wolverines, this game isn't about revenge. It's about going 1-0.
Wesley has been one of the nation's most prolific offensive teams in the past month. Over their five-game winning streak the Wolverines have averaged 42.6 points per game and 465.0 yards of offense per game. The Wolverines have also significantly reduced their penalty yards in the past three games, cutting down their average from over 100 yards of penalties per game with increasingly disciplined performances of 78, 55, and 35 penalty yards in their last three contests.
On defense the Wolverines have not allowed any opponent more than 17 points during their five-game streak. After starting the season with no interception in their first four games, the Wolverine secondary has picked off eight passes in their past four games, including four against Montclair State last Saturday.
Wesley will need to adjust their scheme on the defensive side of the ball to counter Salisbury's unique triple option attack. The Sea Gulls have ground and pounded their way to a 7-1 mark on the season with their only blemish a 34-30 loss to Rowan earlier in the year.
The Sea Gulls boast the nation's second-highest rushing yards per game total, averaging 393.5 yards per game on the ground. The Sea Gulls rarely move the ball through the air, throwing just 65 times all season, but doing so efficiently. Salisbury ranks fifth in the nation in team passing efficiency with a 179.67 rating.
On defense, Salisbury has held their opponents to under 300 yards of total offense per game. Opponents average 103 yards rushing per game against the Sea Gulls, and Wesley's Jamar Baynard will lead the Wolverines' ground game as they look to inflate that statistic. Through the air, the Navy and White will look to expose the Salisbury secondary, leaning on wide receiver Bryce Shade and Alex Kemp as they have most of the season.
The Wolverines and Sea Gulls have battled 26 times since Wesley became a four-year program, with the Navy and White owning an 18-8 advantage in the all-time records. The Route 13 Rivalry is real. The Wolverines aren't worried about the rivalry though. They aren't worried about the history. The Wolverines are worried about one thing: Going 1-0.
Wesley and Salisbury are scheduled to kick off on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Live stats and streaming video coverage will be provided by the Salisbury Sports Information office. Sean Greene and Jason Bowen will be on the call, broadcasting live on WDEL 101.7.