Quakers to end season at Otterbein
Wilmington College will close the 2011 season with an Ohio Athletic Conference game at Otterbein University 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Quakers (0-8 OAC, 0-9 overall) are coming off a 51-15 loss to Ohio Northern on Senior Day at Williams Stadium. A pair of kickoff returns that went the distance and a score off a fumble recovery skewed the game's final look.
"We gave them three easy ones there. Beyond that, it was a lot closer than it looked," Wilmington head coach Ken Minor said. "We made some improvements, technique-wise, but the score doesn't necessarily indicate it. We had some drives and did some things that give us some optimism for this week."
While the Quakers were dealing with Polar Bears, Otterbein dropped a 30-27 heartbreaker when Marietta made a last-second field goal. The Cardinals, Minor said, are light years better than their 2-7 record might indicate.
"Five of their seven losses have been by six points or less, and they only lost to Ohio Northern by one point," Minor said. "That is indicative of how good a team they really are."
The quarterback match-up features Brandon Arehart (Wilmington) against Otterbein senior Aaron Schlosser. Arehart's 186-yard passing performance last week moved him into the No. 8 position on the all-time WC list with 2,952 yards. Schlosser is the OAC's second-ranked passer and fired four touchdown passes against Marietta.
"Schlosser is fearless. He has a strong arm and solid receivers to throw the ball to — that is a dangerous combination," Minor said. "Brandon has really matured. Over the last half of the season, you can just see that he feels a lot more comfortable and knows what he needs to do and how to do it. He is maneuvering himself in and out of the pocket to find open receivers, and he is not forcing throws."
Arehart will look to an improving corps of receivers, led by Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington), who ranks No. 10 in the conference in receptions (3.9) and receiving yards (51) per game. Schlosser's favorite target is Trey Fairchild, who has hauled in 61 receptions for 1,019 yards and eight scores.
"Fairchild is a very good football player," Minor said. "He also is one of the top kick returners in the conference. He can beat you in a lot of different ways. Malcolm and Stephen Donoghue and Kyle Akers have really stepped up. It seems like Malcolm steps his game up every week. He has certainly caught the attention of people around the league."
Defensively, linebackers Matt McFadden (Sabina/East Clinton) and Antwoine Shelton (Dallas, Texas/Duncanville) lead the team in tackles, but junior defensive end Steth Jackson (Kenton) grabbed some headlines last week with two quarterback sacks.
"Steth probably had his best collegiate game ever," Minor said. "He just never turned it off. He has all the mechanics of being a good one. Hopefully, he turned the corner this past week."
Otterbein's defense is spearheaded by linebacker Shane Centers, whose 101 tackles lead the OAC.
"Centers is appropriately named," Minor said. "He is the middle linebacker and the center of their defense. He is all over the field. We will need to put a head on him every play."