Norm Eash's Illinois Wesleyan Titans will visit the North Park Vikings on Saturday. (Photo by Eric Stock/WJBC)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - Illinois Wesleyan's defense got a wake-up last week and doesn't plan to sleep past the alarm this Saturday.
The Titans defense which entered College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play ranked 7th in Div. III, was shredded for 442 yards against Millikin, forcing the offense to rally from a 14-point second-half deficit in a 34-33 overtime win.
IWU, ranked No. 13 in the d3football.com poll, will take a 4-0 record to North Park University on Saturday.
Ccoach Norm Eash said he noticed some instances where defenders were playing out of position last week and he said second-half adjustments helped minimize the Big Blue attack.
Defensive end Trey Cunningham said the defense let the team down last week.
"We'd like to think we are a really strong part of this team and the offense carried us last week because we gave up 33 points. That's just completely unacceptable," Cunningham said.
Cunningham said North Park gave the Titans defensive line problems last year.
"The defensive line kind of got beat up a little bit. They were cutting us and driving us back. We are going to go up there and just try to stop him right at the line and prove our dominance, especially after last week," Cunningham said.
Eash said it can be dangerous playing a team that hasn't won a conference game in 12 years.
"They have everything to gain and nothing to lose. They have some athletic type football players," Eash said.
The 1-3 Vikings have their lone win against Olivet College. They have lost 83 consecutive CCIW games. Their last conference win came on Oct. 7, 2000 at Elmhurst.
Alex Garvey's patience has paid off. The junior receiver from Glenview, Ill. (Glenbrook South H.S.) endured a season-ending foot injury early in his freshman season and had to wait through his sophomore season for a chance to have an impact as a receiver. He had been handling punting duties and this season, does the kickoff chores for IWU.
Garvey has scored a team-leading six touchdowns, including three last week in the win over Millikin.
"It's difficult (to wait) in a sense because you want to be out there, but honestly the wide receiver group is a close-knit group and they guys I've worked with have made be a better wide receiver from watching them play," Garvey said.
Eash commended Garvey for his blocking too, which is more sophisticated than the blocking most receivers have to do in high school.
Garvey said his added responsibilities as a receiver haven't hurt his kicking, especially since he has to kick off immediately after scoring a touchdown.
"I just have to concentrate. Sometimes I say I'm just a little too excited. I just have to keep my head down and drive through the ball," Garvey said.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.