November 28, 2012

South's beasts meet again

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor | Wesley
Although Wesley's coach says he's seen better linebackers than Javicz Jones, it's because they also played for Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Mary Hardin-Baylor athletics photo 

By Adam Turer
D3sports.com

Finally, they came to their senses and scheduled a regular season game.

After meeting in six of the past seven postseasons, Wesley and Mary Hardin-Baylor delayed the seemingly inevitable and met this year in Dover on Sept. 15. The Cru improved their all-time record against the Wolverines to 3-4 with a 32-25 victory. It is little surprise that, once again, one of these two teams will end the other’s season. This time, there is more familiarity than ever before.

“You feel like you know them a little bit more,” said Crusaders defensive coordinator Larry Harmon about preparing for the Wolverines for the second time this season. “We’re starting with an understanding of how they utilize their different skill kids, more than if we were going in to this game cold turkey.”

Physically, the teams have not changed much since Week 3. Any edge gained from the prior meeting is likely to be of the mental variety.

“We’re able to look at them and what they were thinking in Week 3,” said Wesley coach Mike Drass. “When I look back at that film, they were the better team that day.”

While they never fell below No. 6 in the Top 25 poll this season, it took the Wolverines some time to hit their stride. Wesley trailed in six of its first eight games, but rallied to defeat every opponent outside of the Cru. In its last three games, including two playoff wins, Wesley has outscored opponents 176-20.

“Coming into this year, we didn’t have any big-name type players,” said Drass. “We’ve progressively gotten better throughout the season and formed our own identity. I think we have a lot more confidence in ourselves now.”

While Wesley has steadily improved, Mary Hardin-Baylor has dominated. A fourth quarter rally to defeat Hardin-Simmons on October 20 is the toughest test the Cru has faced since seeing the Wolverines. UMHB averages over 51 points per game, second only to Mount Union, and wins by an average of 33 points per game.

“I think they’re playing with extreme confidence, and rightfully so,” said Drass.

Just a sophomore, Sosthene Kapepula has already had a big impact in the UMHB-Wesley rivalry.
Wesley athletics photo 

One thing from the regular season meeting that remains unchanged for both teams can be found at the top of the individual defensive stat line. UMHB linebacker Javicz Jones and Wesley linebacker Sosthene Kapepula continue to lead their team in tackles. As two of the most athletic linebackers in the country, each playmaker has the ability to change a game’s momentum.

“We’re fortunate that our best playmaker is Javicz,” said Harmon. “He makes it go for us. He’s pretty phenomenal.”

Jones, a senior, is the latest in a line of big-play linebackers at Mary Hardin-Baylor. He met with former Crusader and current Indianapolis Colt Jerrell Freeman before and after the Cru’s regular season finale on Nov. 10. The two talked more about life than football, said Jones. But there are similarities between the two players on the field. Jones is among the nation’s leaders with 111 tackles, seven interceptions, and four defensive touchdowns.

“I’ve seen a couple of better linebackers better than him over the years, but they both played for Mary Hardin-Baylor and one of them is in the NFL right now,” said Drass.

Jones remains humble in the face of the comparisons to Freeman, who currently ranks fifth in the NFL in tackles. He is the heart and soul of the Cru defense that held Franklin 24 points below its scoring average a week after holding Louisiana College 15 points below its season average.

“I enjoy being blessed to have the opportunity to be out there making plays,” said Jones. “As a child, I was taught to just run to the ball, so that’s what I do. Once I’m on the field, I’m just having fun.”

The Wolverines have their own playmaking linebacker. Just a sophomore, Kapepula has asserted himself as a leader on defense, tallying 102 tackles, three forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries so far this year. His 28-yard scoop and score — Wesley’s second defensive touchdown in the first 2:06 of the game — set the tone for the Wolverines’ 56-6 rout of Cortland State last week.

“Guys gravitate to him naturally and follow his lead,” said Drass. “I look at him in the same mold as [Jones]. He’s a tenacious player who plays throughout the entire play.”

Kapepula worked his way into the starting lineup late in his freshman year and had his best performance in the 2011 playoff win over Mary Hardin-Baylor, notching 14 tackles and an interception. He batted away LiDarral Bailey’s final pass attempt to seal the victory. He dedicated himself in the offseason to taking a leap between his first and second seasons.

“It starts with the relationship between me and my coaches, especially my linebacker coach, Tim Kane,” said Kapepula. “I stayed here over the summer and worked toward taking that leadership role.”

Both Jones and Kapepula will be counted on to make big plays on Saturday. Their leadership of the defensive units will be just as vital as their performance on the field.

“We need to stop them on third down and get the ball back to our offense,” said Drass.

Defense was the key to the first matchup this season, and will be the key again on Saturday.

“We felt like we could hold our own and control the line of scrimmage,” said Harmon of his unit’s mindset going into the September meeting. “That’s been the difference in who wins and loses this game over the years.”

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
Box Score
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
Box Score
Final
MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
Box Score
Final
at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
Box Score
Final
St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
Box Score
Final
at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
Box Score
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Western New England 59, Curry 28
Box Score
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Colby 9, at Williams 7
Box Score Photos
Final
at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
Box Score
Final
at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
Box Score
Final
Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
Box Score
Final
at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
Box Score
Final
at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
Box Score
Final
at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
Box Score
Final
at Springfield 28, WPI 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Denison 45, Wooster 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
Box Score Recap
Final
at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
Box Score Recap
Final
at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
Final
at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
Box Score Recap
Final
at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
Box Score Photos
Final
at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
Final
at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
Box Score
Final
Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
Box Score Photos
Final
Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
Box Score
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
Box Score
Final
at Centre 49, Chicago 27
Box Score
Final
at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
Box Score Recap
Final
Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
Box Score
Final
at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
Box Score
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
Box Score Photos
Final
Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
Box Score
Final
at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
Box Score
Final
Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
Box Score Photos
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
Box Score Photos
Final
Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
Box Score
Final
at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
Box Score
Final
Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
Box Score
Final
at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
Box Score Recap
Final
Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
Box Score
Final
at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
Final
Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
Box Score
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
Box Score
Final
Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
Final
at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
Box Score
Final
at Ripon 33, Knox 19
Final
Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
Box Score
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
Box Score
Final
UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
Box Score
Final
at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
Box Score
Final
at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
Photos
Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
Box Score Recap
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score Recap
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Box Score
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
Box Score Recap