PREVIEW: Jackets in search of first win Saturday

After Waynesburg lost to Geneva this past Saturday to fall to 0-4, its next challenge will be the Thiel Tomcats, who are the only other 0-4 team in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Not only has Thiel not won a game this season, it has also lost 21 consecutive games.  Thiel’s last win was against Bethany Sept. 16, 2017. This will be Waynesburg’s second home game of the season and will also be a part of the Homecoming weekend festivities. Waynesburg beat Carnegie Mellon last year on Homecoming, 24-21. Waynesburg will look for its second straight homecoming win this Saturday afternoon at 1:30. 

Changing the culture

Head coach Chris Smithley sees some similarities between Waynesburg and Thiel.

“They’re a program that’s in a similar situation to us. It’s trying to develop a new culture, I think they’ve made a lot of progress,” Smithley said. “You don’t really see that when you look at the scores of the games, but they’re circling this one. They’re coming down here to get a win and that’s the mindset that they’re going to have, and we have to play good football.”

Waynesburg beat Thiel last year, but it wasn’t an easy victory by any stretch. The Jackets were down  14-3 but found a way to come out on top. There were a lot of obstacles for Waynesburg to overcome in that game and Smithley expects more challenges against Thiel on Saturday. 

“I expect there to be some adversity again on Saturday,” Smithley said. “We talked about that this Saturday and how we got to handle those things. We’re going to stay the course here, we’re going to believe in the process because there is a process to this thing to get to where we want to be.”

‘Where it all begins’

 For the key for Waynesburg to getting its first victory Smithley says that the Jackets must win at the line of scrimmage. 

“You have to win up front, on both sides of the ball, and that’s where it all begins,” Smithley said. “We look at Saturday and we had our opportunities in that game. “We played solid defense in the first half. One thing goes wrong, we give up a couple long runs on the next drive. I don’t think we won on the offensive line I don’t think we won on the defensive line.”

A new field general 

Junior quarterback Mason Schrenker made his first career start against Geneva, replacing Tyler Perone. He passed for 126 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Nick Moretti. Despite losing in his first start, Smithley saw a lot of good in Schrenker’s performance. 

“Mason is a competitor, Mason wants to do better,” Smithley said. “But at the end of the day you look at what Mason did, and he did some really great things. Mason extended the play, he escaped out of the pocket, he gave his guys opportunities down the field to make those plays.”

An improved opponent

Despite Thiel’s struggles, Smithley sees a lot of development on the Tomcats squad. He also thinks that this is a stronger Thiel team compared to last season.

“They’re getting better, there’s a lot of growth over the last year. I think that always happens when you hire a new coaching staff and you bring a new energy to the game,” Smithley said. “We’re going to expect a better Thiel team than we played last year. It’s more about us than it is about Thiel. We’ve got to take care of our business first.”