The Slippery Rock University football team will conclude its 2016 season this Saturday at home against the East Stroudsburg University Warriors.
ESU (4-6) has lost four straight games and will be looking to try and end their season on a high note against The Rock. SRU (6-4) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and will be celebrating the careers of over 20 senior players.
Highlighting the group of seniors will be quarterback Don King III, running back Shamar Greene, receivers Drew Scales and Leroy McLain, offensive lineman Joe Loschaivo defensive backs Kevin Green. Alfon Cook and Derrick Fulmore, defensive linemen Joe Philips, Mike Kope and Cody Conway and linebackers Bob Vernick, Anthony Zappone and John Conglose.
East Stroudsburg has struggled in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East Division, going 2-5 in the conference and being ranked last in the conference in rush defense. Offensively, ESU is a middle of the pack PSAC team, but running back Robert Healy leads the conference with 1,163 rushing yards.
SRU head coach Shawn Lutz said that they will try to take advantage of ESU’s poor rushing defense Saturday.
“When we can get the run game going our offense finds it’s tempo,” Lutz said. “We weren’t able to run the ball against Seton Hill too much until the end when we closed it out.”
Leading the rushing attack for SRU will be junior Isiah Neely and freshman Dontez Rash. Neely has 489 rushing yards with four touchdowns on the year and Rash has 240 yards with 6 touchdowns.
Trying to stop the ESU run for The Rock will be Vernick, Zappone and junior defensive end Marcus Martin. Vernick was named the PSAC-West defensive player of the week last week after an 18 tackle, two interception performance against Seton Hill, Zappone leads the SRU defense with 76 tackles on the season and Martin is tied for first in the PSAC in tackles for loss with 17.5.
Lutz said there is not too much about East Stroudsburg that worries him, but he is worried that the emotions of the seniors playing their last game could take over.
This senior class will leave as the second most winningest class in school history with a 36-12 record with three PSAC-West division championships, two outright PSAC championships, and three NCAA national playoff appearances.
They’ll be looking to put on a show for the home crowd one last time Saturday afternoon as they end their SRU playing careers.