Tigers will try to bounce back against Wilson
Last week, the Wilson Warriors were looking to grab their first win of the season against Salisbury.
They were trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter when Salisbury’s Weston Schaffer picked off a pass and returned it 47 yards to give the Falcons some breathing room as they handed the Warriors their third straight loss in a 21-7 game.
The Warriors hung with Northern Lehigh for a while in the season opener and then were blown out by Palisades in week two. Last week, facing another winless team in Salisbury, they figured to have their best shot yet at picking up a win. The truth is that Wilson is an improved team but they’re still very young and prone to some mistakes.
“They’re the kind of team that you can’t overlook,” said Northwestern coach Josh Snyder. “They’re young and have some talent and if you take them lightly, they can surprise you.”
The Tigers are coming off of a heartbreaking 35-34 loss to Palisades last week, their first loss of the season. For the second time in three weeks, the Tigers went to overtime, but didn’t have the magic in the loss to Palisades that they had against Notre Dame in week one.
Fortunately for Snyder, the players aren’t suffering any hangover from the tough loss last week and are looking to get right back on the winning side of things this week.
“I told our guys that this week is the most important game of the season because it’s our next game,” said Snyder, stressing to his team that they can’t look back or they’ll find themselves in trouble.
Snyder said the team had a great practice on Tuesday and for the first time this season, went through practice in full pads with hitting. The only thing missing from practice was running back Nick Henry, who left last week’s game with an injury and will miss this week’s game as well. Snyder believes that he should be able to return in week four when the Tigers travel to Bangor.
The ground game has been centered around Henry, who has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the team’s three games this season.
Fortunately for Northwestern, while Henry has been the focus when running the ball, he’s not the only weapon that Northwestern has in their arsenal.
Quarterback Deven Bollinger had his second 100-plus yard rushing game of the season against Palisades and players like Justin Rodda and Tyler Lobach have been involved as well. Jayden Allen is likely to see more carries against Wilson with Henry out of the lineup.
“We’ve stressed having guys that can pick up the load if someone is out of the lineup,” said Snyder. “Jayden Allen hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time this season but he’s capable of stepping in and we’ve got the other weapons, so while we’d like to have Nick out there, we think we have some alternatives to go to, especially if it’s just for one week.”
Bollinger will pick up Henry’s punting duties for the team as well, with Allen likely handling some of the return duties that Henry had in the early weeks.
Even with the injury to Henry, Snyder figures to stick pretty close to the usual game plan. Bollinger has averaged just under 16 passes per game in the first three weeks and should be right around that number again if all goes as planned against Wilson.
“We’re still at the point where we’re just worrying about what we have to do to win games and not too much about what other teams are going to try to do to us,” stressed Snyder. “We go out and stick to what we want to do and find ways to make it work and that’s worked well with these guys, so we don’t plan on changing that now.”