Wayne State football will open the 2018 season with a matchup against the Walsh Cavaliers on Aug. 30 at the Tom Adams Field.
The Warriors lead the all-time series versus the Cavaliers 4–0, with WSU posting a 28–9 win over the Cavaliers in Canton, Ohio in last year’s season opener.
Redshirt junior safety Kyle Toth said the team’s record last year and months of training served as an inspiration for the team to have a good start in the season opener.
“All this off-season stuff and knowing that we didn’t have a great season last year just fuels us to come out strong this Thursday and start it off with a lot of energy,” Toth said. “It gets tiring hitting your own guys every day, so it’s nice to be able to see another (team’s color).”
The defensive unit returns with six starters from last year’s team. Toth said the experience gained by last year’s sophomores and juniors could help the team this season.
“Last year it was pretty tough with injuries and young guys playing, but with that comes a lot of experience that (players) can take into this year,” Toth said.
On offense, senior D.J. Zezula and redshirt junior Dakota Kupp have been competing for the starting quarterback position all summer. Redshirt senior running back Deiontae Nicholas said both quarterbacks have the ability to lead the team to victory.
“We’re very excited to have either one of them play and whoever comes out and plays will have enough weapons (on offense) to get the job done,” Nicholas said.
The Cavaliers finished second in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in rushing yards per game last year; averaging 198 yards per game and will look to sophomore running backs Koby Adu-Poku and Antwand Wilson, who combined to score 12 touchdowns to pull the upset.
Toth said defense is excited for the challenge from Walsh’s running game.
“Our defense specializes in the run game, so we’re excited to see all those running plays and be able to attack the running back the way our defense likes to do,” Toth said.
Nicholas and Toth joined junior center Charlie Younger, senior linebacker Anthony Pittman and senior running back Demetrius Stinson as the 2018 team captains.
Toth said being named a team captain for the first time was an honor.
“The fact that the coaches believe in me and my leadership capabilities really humbles me and it’s really exciting to lead a group of guys like this,” Toth said.
Nicholas said that the team is prepared to play in Thursday’s game.
“It will be a lot of guys (playing in) their first collegiate game and for me being injured throughout last year and being able to play for the first time since last year is really exciting, so (I’m) looking forward to that,” Nicholas said.
“With everything our coaches have (installed) the past couple (of) weeks, I think (Thursday’s game) would be a good time to showcase what we’ve been working on.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on television on Comcast channel 900 and on radio channels 101.5 FM and 1400 AM WDTK.
Matt Williams is sports editor of The South End. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by Mike Tokarz.