Looking back on the 2021 fall football season, many players envisioned playing their last game healthy and in hopes of a championship victory. Unfortunately, injury plagued The Rock football team, leaving eight starters out, most of which were veterans to the team.
Rock Athletics announced that star receiver Henry Litwin played his final season enduring a broken collar bone injury, yet still he led in every receiving category at The Rock. Litwin still managed to receive a nomination for the William V. Campbell trophy as well as being the only receiver in the country to be a finalist for the 2021 Harlon Hill trophy.
Jermaine Wynn Jr., better known as the emotional leader, was unable to finish the season with his team on the field and was forced to watch his final game from the sidelines with a serious knee injury that is still undisclosed.
After getting his foot stuck in the wet turf at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Wynn Jr. was carted off the field and did not return. Wynn Jr. concluded his college career ranked third in yardage (2,858) and second in touchdown catches (32) after beginning his career at Alderson Broaddus University.
Garrett DeBein, starting defensive end, had his best statistical season cut short and was unable to aid in the playoffs. Safety Dalton Holt, senior football captain and starter, sat alongside his team due to a severe injury as well which ended his career early. Jeff Marx, an All-Region defensive tackle for The Rock, was among the list of players out on injury reserve.
The ongoing list of injured players involved running back Evyn Holtz, cornerback Savion Harris and linebacker Peyton Remish, who all typically would be the first on field picks. Injury is unavoidable under certain conditions, but The Rock became plagued with unfortunate losses to the roster.
However, the “next man up” mentality is something coach Shawn Lutz and his team live by. The fall season still produced a 9-3 overall record and berth into the playoffs. Giving other guys an opportunity to step up and take on new roles will better prepare them for next season when a large chunk of starters graduate.
The final game at Notre Dame College ended in a nail-biting 33-25 loss to finalize the battle between the pair that has consecutively played three years in a row. Going forward, capitalizing on preparation of the next man up will keep the team alive in injury prone slumps.
Nonetheless, this class goes down in the school records as one of the most prominent winning teams to ever play for Slippery Rock. Lutz’s coaching record moves to a .774-win percentage overall and .750 percentage this season. 2021 served as the 12th consecutive winning season under the helm of Rock football. Not a single player on the field gave up until the final whistle, a class act that got the team this far into the post-season.
For now, the lights are off at the Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, but the weight room is full of ambitious returners who are hungry for revenge.