No matter the result of today’s game between Northeast Conference rivals Sacred Heart and St. Francis University, Red Flash senior Jeff Wasilewski expects his walk off the field to the locker room at DeGol Field to take a lot longer.
Wasilewski, a receiver and one of several Central Cambria High School graduates to make the move from Ebensburg to Loretto with coach Chris Villarrial four years ago, also figures to take a couple extra minutes to take off the helmet and pads.
“It goes by real quick. People always tell you how quick it goes, but you don’t realize in until it’s almost over,” Wasilewski said. “It’s been a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Wasilewski is one of 16 seniors, including fellow Central Cambria alumni Tyler Davidson and Timmy Myers, to be honored today as St. Francis (4-6, 3-4 NEC) concludes its most successful regular season since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) against Sacred Heart (2-8, 1-6).
Kickoff is set for noon at DeGol Field.
“I was talking to Timmy Myers the other day, and we’ve been giving each other hugs before every game since high school,” Wasilewski said. “This will be the last time we can do that.”
A win also gives St. Francis its first five-win season since the Red Flash went 8-2-1 in 1992 and won the ECAC regular season title.
“These guys who came in here four years ago have had a hand in helping us change the culture around here,” Villarrial said. “It’s definitely special to me to get these guys a victory because they deserve it. They haven’t had as much success as they would have liked, but things are turning around.”
Last year’s game had a final score that resembled a Big East Conference basketball game more than a football game as Sacred Heart defeated St. Francis, 60-45.
“We fell behind 21-0 and fought back, but we had a pick-six at the end that put the game away,” Villarrial said. “This is going to be a tough game. We have to be up for the challenge and ready to go.”
Wasilewski, who already has a job auditing the federal government in Alexandria, Va., following graduation, was certainly ready for last year’s game.
He finished with five catches for 122 yards – both career-highs – and had a 42-yard catch-and-run.
This season, Wasilewski has three receptions for 32 yards in St. Francis’ run-oriented offense, though the Red Flash did pass for 263 yards in last week’s 45-31 victory at Monmouth.
“It was a shootout, and it might be a shootout again. All I care is if we win by one point,” Wasilewski said. “I did have a big game, and that was a highlight of my year, but we didn’t get that W. It would be nice to go out with a win if everything works out again this week.”
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