The names echoed throughout an otherwise silent Wilson locker room, recited one by one by Bulldogs Head Coach Doug Dahms.
Ike Schannauer. Jon Fox. Jake Gehman. Shane Dantzler. Pete Weidner. Nick Kline. And a few more.
All were senior members of the 2015 Wilson Football team, garnering many postseason accolades, chief among them All-State and Big 33 selections. But they were gone now, Dahms stated quite sternly to his 2016 squad that was about to take the field for their season opening game. It was time for a new crop of elder statesmen to take control.
Foday Jalloh. Alex Twiford. Leo Quigley. Mason McElroy. Elliot Bobb. Tommy O’Brien. Dahms singled out each of them, deftly relaying last minute adjustments and encouragement for the impending rivalry game against the Governor Mifflin Mustangs. Each player-specific speech ended with the Wilson rallying cry that dates back to the “good ol’ days” with John Gurski: Are you ready?
They were. In fact, the entire team was ready. The Bulldogs dominated the visiting Governor Mifflin from start to finish, winning 38-7 on a beautiful late summer night in West Lawn that saw the Wilson offense gain points on each of their first five possessions. Senior wide receiver Brian Wright got the scoring started for Wilson, hauling in a 39-yard TD pass on 4th and 6 from junior quarterback Connor Uhrig. Uhrig - who got the start for the Bulldogs but rotated with fellow junior Grayson Kline - threw for 106 yards on eight completions and two touchdowns, the second of which was a 3-yarder to senior TE Quigley.
Kline matched Uhrig’s production, throwing two scores of his own (to senior wide receiver Justin Weller and senior tight end Alex Twiford). Standard rhetoric leads one to believe that if you have two quarterbacks earning playing time then you really have none. The exception to that way of thinking, for at least a game, was on display at John Gurski Stadium Friday night. But Uhrig and Kline weren’t alone.
The stingy Wilson defense forced a three-and-out on the Mustangs’ first series, held them to just eight total first downs, and didn’t allow Governor Mifflin inside the Bulldogs 40-yard line until midway through the 4th quarter. Leading the way for Wilson was linebacker Quigley, who had eight tackles including a sack, and linebacker Jalloh, who chipped in another six stops. Senior defensive back Mason McElroy intercepted a Mustangs pass halfway through the first quarter that set up the Bulldogs second score. While the stats sheet shows the Mustangs racking up 149 total yards, half of them came in the 4th quarter with Wilson comfortably ahead 38-0.
Contributing to that massive lead was junior running back Iggy Reynoso, the former Hamburg star. He notched his first touchdown as a Bulldog on the first play of the 4th quarter to cap the scoring. Reynoso finished with 118 yards on 12 carries. He also had a 66-yard TD called back due to offensive holding, one of just seven penalties called throughout the game.
The contributions from underclassmen Reynoso, Uhrig, and Kline didn’t go unnoticed, either.
“(Shout out to) all the juniors that definitely stepped it up today, showing they can be a key part of this team,” said senior lineman Isaiah Reigel.
Those young men may someday hear stories of their names being utilized for motivational purposes by the Wilson coaching staff. However, they’ll need to get in line. Quigley, Jalloh, and numerous other seniors on the 2016 team will earn that right first.