As Crusader football passes the effective midpoint of their season, one must look past their wins and losses to see the success that the 2017 team has achieved. All aspects of the team are putting up impressive statistics.
However, a large factor behind any football team is the quarterback. Crusader football is no exception, with junior quarterback Thomas Wibbeler leading the effort. Wibbeler is in his second year at Capital, having transferred from Ohio Dominican University after his first year.
The 2016 season brought major changes for Capital’s football program, the most obvious being the hiring of current head coach Chad Rogosheske. There was also a switch in offensive scheme, a transition from a triple option offense to a spread offense. This offense places higher priority on the passing game, usually utilizing three or more wide receivers at a time.
Having run this offense at Ohio Dominican as well as in high school, Wibbeler remarked that learning Capital’s offense was fairly easy.
The offense, led by Wibbeler, has recorded some formidable statistics so far this season. Wibbeler specifically mentioned wide receivers Dar Stanford and David Barnett as standout contributors. Stanford, also a transfer from Ohio Dominican, leads the team in receiving with 619 yards as of Oct. 19. Barnett and Nick Waters follow with 432 and 236 yards, respectively.
On the ground, several players have contributed to the rushing attack. The Crusaders started the season primarily using senior Cory Heeter, but lost him to injury during a Sept. 23 contest against Wilmington College.
“We’ve had some guys step up and fill that position,” Wibbeler said, “…but you can’t really replace [Heeter] … to have him out there as a leader and a player…”
Although a tailback as good as Heeter comes across as irreplaceable, Wibbeler praises the work of Nateshawn Hargrove and Evin Butler, who have stepped in to fill the position. Hargrove leads the team in rushing touchdowns with three and is soon to surpass the injured Heeter in total rushing yards.
Though Capital has suffered a series of losses, there are still positive things to be taken from these contests. The Crusaders fought the Fightin’ Quakers of Wilmington College into overtime, racking up over 250 yards through the air despite the eventual loss. They put up 42 points on the rival Otterbein University Cardinals and only lost the game by a touchdown.
— Capital Crusaders (@CapCrusaders) October 1, 2017
Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment to come during a game that ended as a Capital loss was against the University of Mount Union, a perennial Division III powerhouse. The Crusaders were the only team yet this season to tie the score of a game after Mount Union had scored.
Capital scored a quick 14 points, enough to stay with the Purple Raiders for part of the first quarter. Backup quarterback Hayden Kotwica also recorded his first touchdown pass. Though the Crusaders eventually lost, it is apparent that progress was made.
— Capital Crusaders (@CapCrusaders) October 14, 2017
This Saturday, Oct. 21, Capital will host John Carroll University. When asked about the team’s mindset going into yet another tough game, Wibbeler responded confidently. He said that the team needs “to go 1-0 from every week here on out,” taking the rest of their season one week at a time.
Though they maintain a 1-5 record on the season, Wibbeler assures critics that Capital football is much better than their record might show. Execution seems to be the main goal of the team, who still shows signs of life despite their losing record.
“We’re a lot better of a team than our record shows,” Wibbeler said. “We know what we can do, we know who we are … when we get on the field, we have to show that.”