It’s back home for the final time for the Charlotte 49ers football team as they welcome Wesley College to Jerry Richardson Stadium. The Wolverines, a Division III independent from Delaware, actually have the farthest to travel out of Charlotte’s home opponents and are the Niners’ first opponent outside of the Carolinas (in fact, the final three opponents–Wesley, ODU in Virginia and Morehead State in Kentucky–are from neither North or South Carolina).
Wesley College Wolverines
November 9, 2013
Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Last year: 10-2
Head coach: Mike Drass
The Wolverines are one of the top D3 football programs in the country. Mike Drass, who also serves as Wesley’s AD, has led the team to three straight national semifinals from 2009-2011 before a “disappointing” quarterfinal appearance last season. This won’t be a walk in the park for the upstart Niners by any stretch of the imagination. (By the way, they beat FCS team Charleston Southern on the road a couple of years back, so just ask the Buccaneers if the Wolverines are easy pickings). That’s not to say that it isn’t a winnable game for Charlotte, though, but they can’t get caught in the FCS vs. D3 mentality.
On offense, the Wolverines will be without All-American quarterback Justin Sottilare, who threw for over 3,000 yards and racked up a inconceivable 33 touchdowns. They’ll also be missing their top two rushers–Askia Jahad and Devar Robinson–who combined for 958 yards and seven touchdowns, but junior-to-be Eugene Byrd looks poised to carry the torch in that department. Top receiver Steve Koudossou (51 catches, 747 yards, 10 TD’s) returns for his junior season, as does rising senior Jeremiah Howe (four touchdowns, nearly 550 yards receiving).
Switching to the other side of the ball, Charlotte will need to contain Sosthene Kapepula (120 tackles, 13 for a loss) and Jordan Westcott (83 tackles). With 17 sacks as a unit, this group can certainly get to the quarterback in a hurry. Ballhawk Jared Morris (six picks) has graduated but safety Sean Hopkins and corner Leon Jones (nine INTs combined) should slide in and rack up picks on their own. Hopkins, meanwhile, led D3 in punt return average, so that will also be key to the Wolverines’ success.
Despite their quarterback out of the picture, Wesley has shown the ability to reload instead of rebuild in recent years. The 2013 season should be no different, and when they head into town the second week of November, they’ll certainly be ready to play and looking to slay another FCS team, albeit one playing their first season.