Home football opener on tap

WILMINGTON – For the Wilmington College football team, the 2012 Ohio Athletic Conference season is beginning like the 2011 ended, a meeting with the Otterbein Cardinals. (Game Notes)

The Cardinals - who won last year's game, 40-14 – is coming off a 15-0 victory over Gallaudet to give head coach Tim Doup his first win as a head coach. Meanwhile, Wilmington hopes to rebound for a 37-14 loss to Mount St. Joseph.

If the Quakers are to be successful, slowing down receiver Trey Fairchild has to be the top priority. The 5-11, 185 pound senior had five receptions for 114 yards in the last meeting. Despite not playing in the season opener, and not being listed on the Otterbein two-deep, head coach Ken Minor fully expects to be on the field come Saturday.

"Trey Fairchild, in my opinion, is one of the best players in the OAC," said Minor. "They move him around and throw him the bubble screens. If you have any weaknesses in your defense, they will expose it with the bubbles."

Utilizing the quick pass game could be very beneficial for Otterbein team that has a quarterback in only his second collegiate start under center. Senior Aaron Kingcade, who doubles as the starting punter, was 11-of-18 for 118 yards and two interceptions. He only averaged a little over 10 yards per completion in the victory.

Junior Steven Carpenter, although not listed on the OC two-deep, was the team's leading receiver in Fairchild's absence with four catches for 30 yards. The Cardinals racked up 126 yards rushing behind the duo of back-up quarterback Ben Sizemore and running back Brock Burzanko.

The Wilmington secondary, especially safeties Devon Burton (Waynesville, OH/Waynesville) and Trevor Hooker (New Port Richey, FL/River Ridge), will be under a lot of pressure to fill the alleys in both the running and short passing games the Cardinals plan to display Saturday.

Offensively, the Fightin' Quakers used to the bye week to really fine tune aspects that didn't fully come together due to injuries in the fall camp. Four of the five primarily skill players missed valuable practice time leading up to the opener, and having them available without having the rigors of a game plan should help Wilmington become more efficient and confident on the offensive side of the ball.

"It will help our confidence, and when you are confident – you play faster," said Minor.

Getting slot backs Tyrell Richardson (Columbus, OH/Centennial) and Dennis Nance (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) rolling will benefit the production because their versatility in the rushing and passing attacks can put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses. Nance finished the MSJ game with 34 yards receiving and 20 yards rushing, while Richardson had just six total yards.

Otterbein's defensive strength is in the middle with senior nose guard Joe Whitehead, along with senior linebackers Shane Little and Chad Pepper, who finished with a team-high six tackles against Gallaudet.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday on Williams Field at Townsend Stadium.