by Kramer Patterson
The William Penn University football team made history this season as the first team in 37 years to go to the playoffs.
The Statesmen got an unlucky draw in the first round of the playoffs, having to face last year’s defending national champions, the St. Xavier University Fighting Cougars.
The Statesmen defense had a strong showing in the first half of the Nov. 17 contest. While the Fighting Cougars had five trips to the red-zone, they only put up two touchdowns and a field goal.
The Penn offense, however, did not play as well. Without their starting quarterback, junior Taylor Parsons, the offense struggled to get the ball moving. Often with poor field position, the task was even greater for freshman quarterback Tyler Hafner. Hafner struggled running the ball, but had a few good passes.
In the second half, Hafner connected with sophomore Ed Cazenave for what would have been a long score if not for Cazenave stepping out of bounds. Hafner also connected with junior Aaron Broyles and senior Lewis Russell frequently.
Special teams for the Statesmen had a huge day. WPU blocked four kicks, including three field goals and a punt, but their luck was uneven; on the blocked punt, the ball bounced right to a St. Xavier player who picked it up and ran for the first down.
Despite the season-ending loss, the year was a success as the Statesmen ended with a 9-3 record. With the win over Grand View on Nov. 10, the Statesmen became conference champions and earned their playoff berth. WPU started the season with an 8-0 start and were ranked as high as fifth nationally during this time. The undefeated run included revenge over St. Francis of Illinois.
Much of the credit for this success could be given to this year’s senior class, which recorded the most wins in William Penn football history during their time in Oskaloosa. Coach Todd Hafner became the coach with the most wins in WPU history.
The Statesmen also had many honors this year. They had ten all-conference selections, three of them on the first team–offensive linemen Mason Woods, place kicker and four-time Midwest League player of the week Marcus Kerrigan, and junior safety Jacob Batterson. Second teamers for the Statesmen included the fullbacks, sophomore Evan Resseer and junior Sean Davis. Other second teamers included a pair of stout linebackers who together tallied close to 160 tackles for the Statesmen, junior Brock Peery and sophomore Scott Adams. Three linemen also earned second team honors–defensive linemen Mike Welch and Nick DiMarco and offensive lineman Jake Adams.
The future looks bright for William Penn University football. With 14 returning all-conference players and other experienced players coming back, the Statesmen look to do some damage in the post season again next year.