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Lycoming refocused after win over Delaware Valley

September 12, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

It was maybe the biggest win for Lycoming football since the Warriors last defeated Delaware Valley some four years ago. There was reason for hooting and hollering in the locker room -- and there was plenty of it.

Amidst the celebration, though, was a sense of calm placing the win in the proper perspective. In all actuality, the game likely wasn't the do-or-die situation it was made out to be beforehand, but it was significant. Not lost on Lycoming, though, was there are eight more games to be played.

"It's great getting that big win, but we certainly can't take a deep breath," Lycoming safety Tanner Troutman said after having the best game of his young career. "We have a lot of good teams to worry about. We beat the number one team and the defending MAC champs and that was out No. 1 goal. But we have Widener and a couple other teams in the MAC, like Lebanon Valley, to worry about, too."

The Warriors are in a position now, even after just two weeks, to control their own destiny. Eight more wins means the team's first MAC title since 2008 and an NCAA playoff berth for the first time since that MAC title. But that prospect doesn't come with an ability to sit back and relax.

Week after week there's going to be a challenge, beginning with Saturday at David Person Field against Lebanon Valley. The Dutchmen have already posted a win over Montclair State, the preseason No. 2 team in the NJAC, on the road in the season's opening week. They followed it up with a dominant win over first-year program Misericordia a week ago.

It's why there's no hangover from the Delaware Valley win for the Warriors. Even as players changed out of their equipment Saturday getting ready for a three-hour bus ride home, they were surmising about how difficult a matchup with Lebanon Valley could be considering.

They knew the Dutchmen were likely to come in unbeaten, meaning they had the same feeling as the Warriors have about controlling their own destiny in the MAC.

"We think that we won the first round of playoff last week, and if we're going to control our own destiny -- and we're in a situation where we can -- we have to continue to stay in first place," Warriors receiver John Sibel said. "Every game is fighting for first place. We think it's great that we're going to be able to control our own destiny and we're going to take it as a playoff game each week."

That playoff game this week means facing a team which has won two of its last three trips to Person Field. Two years ago the Dutchmen came to Williamsport and put together two scoring drives of 80 yards, another of 71 yards, and returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to win 28-14. It was the third of three consecutive MAC losses for the Warriors after starting the season 3-0 in the conference.

After a disappointing season-opening loss at home, Warriors head coach Mike Clark said his team is going to have to find a way to play better at home than what it did in a 24-2 loss to Brockport. There's truth in his hopes to play better because Lycoming won't be able to play the same way it did in Week 1 and come away 2-0 in MAC play.

"We want to be good, and we're going to have to stay healthy to do that," Clark said following the win over Delaware Valley. "The next two weeks are important, but we're going to focus on Lebanon Valley."

"No deep breaths. We have to keep fighting because Leb. Val. is going to be 2-0 and they have a big O-line," said Warriors defensive end Nate Oropollo after a four-sack performance against Delaware Valley. "We have to be on our championship ball game and have a great week of practice."

There's no question the Delaware Valley win was a big one. Nobody in the Lycoming locker room is disputing it. But what they're trying to avoid is making it the zenith of a season which they believe has the potential to have even bigger wins than one in Week 2.

"We're even more focused now after last week because everyone knows what we're capable of and what we can do when we work together as a unit," Lycoming defensive tackle Dwight Hentz said on Wednesday. "I like to say we got out confidence back after last week."

Confidence and a cold splash of reality might be a dangerous mix for the rest of the MAC.

 
 

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