Playoff Perennials

Jun 17th, 2013 | By | 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.

Sos­thene Kapepu­la

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.

 

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