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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Widener defeated Wilkes, 90-0, in a football game last Saturday, gaining some national media attention and at least some grumbling about running up the score.

Before practice Tuesday at Quick Stadium, Widener coach Isaac Collins explained how it happened. This is a transcript of the interview with the Daily Times:

How did it happen that you would win, 90-to-0?

“Well, I think it was a combination. Our kids played really well. It was a hot day. I think they wore down a little bit. I can't even describe it. We only had the ball for 24 minutes. We had four freshmen score touchdowns in the fourth quarter. So it was just shocking to us to even go through it. But it was just one of those things that you kind of live and learn from. And certainly for our kids, I am very proud of the fact that they came out and played hard for four quarters.”

Have you received heightened national attention in the aftermath?

“Not really. I think there has been a couple phone calls to our SID (sports information director Derek Crudele), but nothing major to the point where we are concerned with it. We're kind of just focused on Lebanon Valley right now.”

You have had a lengthy coaching career with several stops. Have you ever been involved with a game like that?

“There has been a couple opportunities on our side where we got up pretty good on some teams. In 2008 (as an assistant at The Citadel) we played against the eventual national champion Florida Gators and Urban Meyer put up 70 on us. So I was on the other side that day. So certainly I can relate to what those guys were going through where you just can't get it right. Things are just not going your way on that particular day and the other team has got it rolling as well as being talented.”

A Citadel-Florida gap is understandable. This was interesting because it was two essentially level college programs.

“They beat us last year. That's why I was so shocked. I would have never thought in a million years that that would have occurred, because we watched them on film and we thought, 'They are a good football team and we are going to have our hands full.' Our kids came out and they were focused. They played hard for four quarters. Our young kids were tied in. So they did a great job. So I think it was a combination of just us playing really well and kind of hitting some plays early that kind of got them down a little bit.”

Was it necessary to have won by 90? Could you have won by 70? Was there anything that could have been done to limit such a score?

“I think there are a lot of people out there who are saying, 'Hey, he ran the score up,' because you go back to the '80s and the '90s and that's what they did to kind of get their rankings up. From our standpoint, here's what I would share with those guys. And having played Division III football and been on the other side of it, there's a lot of kids who don't get to play. Your backups are backups for a reason. Your starters are better than them. So they don't get an opportunity to play. So when you put them in a game, it's kind of hard to tell them not go and play hard and not to do your best. Because they are hoping, 'Maybe if I do something in this game, Coach will put me in a game and play me more.' I think from that perspective it is awful hard to tell kids, 'Hey, we've got to lay off.'

“From our perspective, here's what we did in the fourth quarter: We ran the football. And our kids did a good job with that. We had a fifth-string tailback score a touchdown. How many times does that happen? I think there were a lot of things that contributed to it. But ultimately, from our standpoint, our intention wasn't to score 90. We weren't saying, 'Hey, we've got some points, let's keep going.' We kept putting younger and younger kids in. And when you have the number of freshmen --- and we had some sophomores --- score touchdowns, that doesn't normally happen.

“And another thing that was missed was that we had a lot of guys who didn't dress because they were playing in our 'B' team game the following day and the NCAA doesn't allow them to play two games. So you can't play deeper into your depth chart. I've heard that: 'Why didn't you play some of your fours and fives?' Well, if we did that, then we would have had to cancel the 'B' team game and instead of playing four quarters against good competition, they get a couple plays in a game.

“We kind of really addressed it the best we could with our kids because that was the most important thing. Our standpoint was, 'We are proud of what you did. You worked hard. There was no taunting. There was no finger-pointing. It was a good, clean football game.' And my hope is that is not overshadowed because of the score. You've got to give those kids some credit.”

Your starting quarterback (Chris Haupt) was in the game when you were ahead by 60 points (his sixth TD mass made it 62-0). Reason?

“He came out with seven minutes left in the third quarter. So after his last touchdown, we pulled him at that point. The thing that is missed in that is that a year ago around this same point, we were up by pretty much the same score against another MAC opponent and almost lost the game --- we only won by three. What people don't understand is that when we came out of the locker room (at halftime) we had that on our minds --- 'We've got to put it away.' That was the Lycoming game last year here. Lycoming battled their way back and we wound up winning, 31-28. Our kids that day felt the game was over. And guess what: It wasn't. And I think if there was another minute left on the clock, we would have lost the game because they had the ball and they were driving. They just ran out of time.

“So a lot of things get missed. Well, 'Your starting quarterback played.' He played seven minutes into the third quarter and at that point the game was secure. You don't know what is going to happen. If you come out in the second half and you are up, 35-0, and you put your backup in and he throws two picks, the next thing you know you are in a dogfight. And to me, that would be the wrong approach to take with our football team because we are working to win a MAC title and you can't drop any games along the way. And certainly from our standpoint, we wanted to close the game out the right way.”

Will lopsided wins help in the national ratings?

“You know what? I don't think so. I can honestly tell you --- I'll speak from just my perspective --- that I don't think coaches look at that. They look at your schedule. From our perspective, I think we have a good ballclub. But we won't know for another few weeks how good we are because we have our first team coming up with Lebanon Valley that has a winning record. So we are going to find out: Can we match up with those guys? We've still got Albright. We've still got Lycoming. We've still got Del Val, the defending conference champ. So we are just trying to make our way so that when we start playing those teams that are having winning records that we are in a position where we can hopefully compete and win a MAC title. And Day 1, that's what this has been about. It's not about our scores. We have been fortunate that our offense has been able to move the football and put some points on the board. But ultimately, if we can win by one, that's all we care about. And that's the approach we take.”

Does Widener have a target on its back now?

“I think we always have a target on our back here. Look at our tradition --- 18 conference titles, two national championships. I think for a long time, prior to my arrival, when we kind of slipped a little bit and weren't winning as many games --- and even my first year --- there weren't a lot of people that were taking it easy on us. So from our perspective, we can't concern ourselves with anything other than what we do out here on the practice field and what we do in the classroom, what we do across campus, what we do at community service. We have some great kids in our program. We've got great coaches. We have a great administration that supports us. And I think for some reason that is getting lost in the translation. These kids work their tails off. They work really, really hard in the offseason, through the winter months. So they are putting their time in. And I think the only reward they get --- because they are not on scholarships and most of these guys are never gong to see the NFL --- is what they get on Saturdays. And I think, this week in particular, I want to make sure that we understand that we don't want to take that away from those guys.”
Check out my column on Widener's rout in the Daily Times Thursday and, as always, on


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