By LUKE BEDNAREK
For The News-Letter
In their second-to-last regular-season matchup, the Hopkins football team topped out Franklin and Marshall College in a 45-24 victory on Saturday. With this win, the Blue Jays improved to a 8-0 record, leading the conference.
With one conference game remaining, Hopkins has secured at worst a share of a seventh consecutive conference championship, while either a win over McDaniel College next week or a loss by 7-1 Moravian College would put them in sole possession of the title.
Saturday’s victory also secured a fifth-straight NCAA playoff berth for the team, so even with their recent accomplishments, the team will continue looking forward as their season goes on.
“Every year, as a team, we set a goal to win the conference. With that being said, we work hard everyday in practice, weight room or film to achieve that goal,” junior Stuart Walters said. “We’re all excited to get another conference championship but we know that’s not going to be the highlight of our season. We’re looking to go deep in the playoffs.”
As the team nears the beginning of postseason play, they reflect on how they’ve gotten here, and what they need to do to get even further.
“We ran the ball extremely well on Saturday,” Walters said. “Our quarterback, Jon Germano, has put up big numbers this year passing the ball, but we know we won’t be able to go deep in the playoffs without running the ball well. Saturday, our offensive line did a great job of opening up big holes for us to run through.”
Walters himself helped establish the run game last weekend, leading the team with 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns including a 62-yarder that put Hopkins up 21-10 in the second quarter and broke open the game.
Saturday’s game also exhibited impressive defensive play that the team has benefited from all year. The Blue Jay defense forced a fumble and put up two interceptions, including a 23-yard pick-six from junior Dan Johnson.
They also held Franklin and Marshall to only 310 total net offensive yards, continuing the level of performance that has brought Hopkins to lead the Conference in fewest points allowed and second-fewest yards allowed.
While it may be tempting to bask in these sorts of accomplishments that is not what the Hopkins team is doing as they examine what they can now do to improve and satisfy their goal of a deep playoff run.
“We’re a hungry team right now. The last two years we have fallen short in the playoffs, but we’re excited to back and make a run,” Walters said.
One aspect of their game that the Blue Jays hope to improve is carrying momentum over from the first half into later in the game.
“A lot of times this year I felt as though we got complacent at times,” Walters said.” We would score four or five TD’s in the first half and come out in the second half and only score one or two. We have to come out with more intensity in the second half of our games. We’ve been working on it over the last couple of games and we’ll definitely be ready come playoffs,” Walters said.
“We’ve worked hard all season,” Walters said. “That’s something we pride ourselves on. We’ll continue to work hard for the remainder of the season.”