WILLIAMSTOWN -- The NESCAC preliminaries are over for the Williams College football team. All that remains for the Ephs is the Little Three competition.
"It’s my senior year, and just to get it started with homecoming is super exciting," wide receiver Jeff Riemann said. "[Wesleyan is] going to be a great team. We’re getting our act together a little bit. I think it’ll be a great test."
The Cardinals visit Weston Field this afternoon for Williams’ Homecoming and the first of the Ephs’ two Little Three games. Williams (3-3) will travel to Amherst next Saturday to wrap up 2012.
First off is Wesleyan. Former Williams coach Mike Whalen has the Cardinals at 5-1, the first time since 2002 that the Cardinals have had this kind of record this late. No matter how Wesleyan finishes, the Cardinals will have their first winning record in a decade.
However, Wesleyan has also lost 12 consecutive games to the Ephs and hasn’t beaten Williams on Weston Field since 1986.
"We need to come out and do the same things we’ve been doing in practice all week," wide receiver Richie Beaton said. "If we execute and we hit hard, we’ll come out with the win on Saturday."
For the record, Wesleyan won the first game in this series, a 10-0 victory back in 1881. Since then, the Cardinals have won only 36 games while Williams has won 75.
Most schools aren’t as fortunate as Williams in the fact that the Ephs play their two fiercest rivals in the final two games of the season.
This is Williams coach Aaron Kelton’s third round of Little Three games. He said that his team hasn’t really needed to be reined in.
"Sometimes the seniors can be that way," said Kelton. "Our young guys don’t quite get it yet. They know it’s an important game, but they don’t get it all. For them, it’s about focusing in and doing what they’re supposed to do."
Despite the .500 record, Williams can win its 49th Little Three championship with wins over Wesleyan and Amherst. The Cardinals have been Little Three champions only 12 times. If Wesleyan beats Williams today and Williams comes back and beats Amherst next week, there would be a three-way tie, the first since 2002.
Williams rolls into Homecoming on a two-game winning streak as the Ephs beat Tufts and Hamilton. Ask Kelton about that, and he’ll tell you flat out that his team is still a work in progress.
"I don’t feel like we’re on the right track yet," he said. "We have one game to play this week. That’s what our focus is on. I’m not caught up in winning streaks or anything like that. For me, it’s about winning the next game."
This game might be as close as Williams gets to looking at itself in the mirror. Like Williams, Wesleyan plays a 4-3 defense. Like Williams, Wesleyan gives you multiple looks on offense. The Cardinals have run the ball 253 times and passed it only 166.
Wesleyan is third in the conference in rushing offense and third in pass offense.