Associate Sports Editor
Millersville closed the season with a loss on Senior Day, 39-7 to Gannon Golden Knights on Veterans Day at home this past Saturday.
“You have to give Gannon credit because their defensive line and the linebackers were physical, which cause problems in the run game and pass protection,” Greg Breitbach said.
Senior Logan Kinser stated that, “things didn’t end the way we wanted to.”
“Yes, it is disappointing to lose today, no question,” Millersville head coach Greg Breitbach commented.
The final game of the 2017 season signals a new beginning for the Millersville Marauders football program. Breitbach saw this season as a building block for the team.
“[The loss] shouldn’t diminish the amount of work, effort and loyalty, toughness, perseverance it took for the seniors to get to where they are.”
“The past couple years I spent here with these older guys set a good foundation for the younger crew,” Kinser commented on the direction of the program. “We have a lot to look forward to as a program.”
Breitbach describes the 2017 senior class as great leaders and comradery they brought locker room guys. He thinks that they learned a lot during their four years, while turning the locker room around as a group. Which was why Breitbach and his coaching staff recruited them.
“When they came here, there wasn’t much more than a bunch of hope for them to pin on to their careers,” Brietbach said. “Now after four years, some of them five, you can see that our program is very close to turning.”
Millersville finished the 2017 season, 4-7, the most victories in one season since 2006. For the 12 seniors, who’ve made their mark at Millersville, this is a memorable season.
Record-setting wide receiver Kevin Wiggins stated that winning four games in 2017 means a lot to him, even though Millersville did not come out on top against Gannon.
“I played in a lot of tough games here,” Wiggins said. “To see where this program has gone from my freshman year to my senior year, it makes me happy to see where it’s going in the future.”
Marauder quarterback Stephen Flanagan got the nod to start on Saturday. Tony Staffieri was sidelined by injuries suffered from the hard-fought West Chester game.
“You can’t really base your season off one guy,” Wiggins commented on Tony’s injury. “I thought that Flanagan stepped in there and did a good job. He managed the game well and did what he could.”
Flanagan threw four interceptions, two of these interceptions were deflected out of Kevin Wiggins hands and bounced into the Gannon defenders.
“Our quarterback had to throw under duress and he did the best he could,” Breitbach commented on the quarterback change.
Millersville’s lone touchdown came from Jhet Janis, on a punt return in the second half. Janis would run to the left side of the field for 71 yards. It was first punt return touchdown scored by a Marauder since 2008.
When the punt return touchdown came, Millersville was down by two touchdowns. After making the extra point, Breitbach knew that in order to come back, they would have to score two two-point conversions. Sadly, Gannon would answer with a field-goal and then the Millersville turned the ball over on their next possession.
Wiggins describes Janis as a player who will help create more Marauder Pride on the campus with his two years of eligibility left.
“Marauder Pride means you keep fighting until the very end,” Wiggins commented on the punt return touchdown. “You just don’t give up.
The Marauder defense held their leading rusher Marc Jones to 194 rushing yards.
The core of the defense, linebacker Sean Dugan finished 2017 with 123 tackles, 17 of them coming on Saturday. Dugan also finished fifth all-time in tackles with 336 and fourth in solo tackles with 184. Breitbach describes Sean Dugan as the living definition of what Marauder Pride is.
“I thought our defense played their tails off,” Breitbach said. “They stopped a couple of fourth downs, defended, and made [Gannon] kick field goals rather than touchdowns. I was very proud of them today.”
Post-game, there was a somber tone on the Millersville sideline as players greeted their families and friends and loved ones.
One of the players who had family members attend every game was defensive lineman Logan Kinser. Kinser graduated from Penn Manor High School, who share Biemesderfer Stadium with Millersville. He also starred in every game during his career at Millersville.
Kinswer describes playing football at Penn Manor and Millersville, “a great feeling” and “meant a lot” to play football in his hometown for eight years.
“It’s not so much about the stats,” Kinser commented on his achievement of starting in every game of his career. “It’s just good to get out here and play the game I love with these guys. It’s more about making memories with these guys more than what any number means.”
Another senior that made his impact known to the Millersville football program was Kevin Wiggins.
Coach Brietbach described Wiggins as a great teammate and very coachable. He noticed his extreme resilience during his career. He also remembers Wiggins as a timid freshman coming out of high school. As he started to grow and gain more confidence on and off the field, he overcame that. Now he’s confident guy.
“I think it’s going to take him long, long ways,” Breitbach commented on Kevin Wiggins. “We put a lot on that young man and asked him to do a lot of things.”
Logan stated that Wiggins was the first guy he reached out to before coming in together as freshmen. “Kevin’s a great kid,” Logan commented on the senior receiver. “He did a lot here at this program.
Wiggins gave his thanks to the Millersville community, his coaches and teammates that have been a part of his journey for the past four years.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” Wiggins said. The next level is not guaranteed, this could have been my last time playing football.”
Coach Breitbach stated that him and the team will take a few weeks off before focusing on offseason workouts and spring practice. As the team flips the page to 2018, the building blocks placed by the senior class will be remembered by a young team looking to bring Millersville a winning season.
“Our ultimate goal was to turn this place around,” Kinser said. “I think we did just that.”