BY DAN POPOLOSKI
William Paterson’s football team just closed out the worst possible season by posting a 0-10 record.
As the dust settles, the program needs to look toward how it can move forward and what can be done in the future to improve.
To really understand how severe the situation is for the Pioneers, one doesn’t need to look much further than the winless season. However, most any statistics, beyond the glaring omissions in the win column, show that almost nothing went well in 2017.
This season the team scored an average of 7.3 points per game while its opponents averaged 42 points per game against them. This indicates the problem is both one of offense and defense.
Eight different players in the New Jersey Athletic Conference rushed for more yards than the Pioneers did as a team all year (599). As a whole, the Pioneers’ running unit averaged a putrid 1.8 yards per carry.
Unfortunately, 2017’s dismal outcome isn’t an outlier in the football team’s history. In fact, it’s more typical. It has been 24 years since the Pioneers have had a winning season on the gridiron. Head coach Jerry Flora has been at the helm for the last 10.
In the program’s 46-year-history, there have been just seven years with more wins than losses. These unspectacular results culminated in only two playoff appearances; the most recent was in 1993.
One of the potential issues for the team is the conference in which it plays. The NJAC is known as one of the best D-3 football conferences in the country. Two of the teams there, Wesleyan University and Frostburg State University, are ranked in the top-25 nationwide, with a few other schools knocking on the door. Even with a strong team, it would be more difficult for WPU to show it in the NJAC than in almost any other conference in the nation.
For now, nothing seems to be changing for the team. Flora’s job doesn’t appear to be in danger, and the program doesn’t appear to be moving to another conference. Only eight seniors are graduating, so it’s possible that another year of development will help a young team.