Playoff PerennialsJun 17th, 2013 | By admin | Category: Sports
BY Steven Kramer
Featuring the toughest schedule in all of NCAA Division III during the 2012 season, the Wesley College football team went 10–2 overall, made its eighth-straight NCAA playoff appearance, advancing to the National Quarterfinals, and finished ranked sixth in the nation. Despite the graduation of several All-Americans from the season prior, the Wolverines had high expectations with the return of senior quarterback Justin Sottilare, the 2010 South Region Player of the Year.
Sottilare did not disappoint, as he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Among his more frequent targets were sophomore Steve Koudossou, with 51 receptions, 747 yards and 10 touchdowns, and senior Matt Barile, with 36 receptions, 572 yards and six touchdowns. Wesley also got solid production in the run game, led by senior Askia Jahad, who ran more than 600 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Defense is where the Wolverines really stood out, ranking among the nation’s best. With the graduation of four All-Americans, two each on the defensive line and linebacker, Wesley prided itself on being a no-name defense. During the year, the Wolverines proved they were more than just a bunch of names as senior defensive end Devin Hardy, junior defensive back Jared Morris and sophomore linebacker Sosthene Kapepula were named All-Americans.
No longer in the shadow of all-time great Chris Mayes, Hardy drew constant double teams to record nearly 50 tackles to go with 9.0 tackles for loss. Morris made the switch from the offensive to the defensive side of the ball without any problem, registering a team high record six interceptions to go with 76 tackles and eight for a loss. Morris’ first game as a defensive player also included a Wesley single-game record four picks in the season opener at East Texas Baptist, a 34–14 win.
Kapepula, who was later named the 2012–13 Wesley College Male Athlete of the Year, proved to be one of the best defensive players in the country in just his second collegiate season. Leading the team with 120 tackles, the most by a Wolverine since 2004, Kapepula also recorded 13 tackles for loss and led the country with four fumble recoveries. With a strong nose for the ball, Kapepula closed out the year with a career-high 18 tackles at Mary Hardin-Baylor in the National Quarterfinals.
Following the season, eight Wolverines earned All-Region honors, the second-most in school history. Senior offensive tackle Brian Cranmer, who was also named an AFCA All-American, as well as Hardy, Morris and Kapepula, all received first team mention. Senior center Tim Putman earned second team honors while Sottilare, junior defensive tackle Terence Gavin, and Dan Tryon, the best placekicker in school history, took home third team accolades. Junior Sean Hopkins also received All-America honors after leading the nation with an 18.6-yard punt return average.
Despite the season coming to an end in Central, Texas, Wesley demonstrated why it is still one of the nation’s best and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
The Wolverines will open the 2013 season on Friday, Sept. 6, when they host Widener at 6 p.m., the first home football game to be held under the lights at Scott D. Miller Stadium.