The Johns Hopkins football team’s appearance in the Sunday evening unveiling of the NCAA Division III tournament was a mere formality, but the program got a glimpse of its postseason future.
The No. 8 Blue Jays will play host to No. 15 Wesley in the first round of the playoffs. The game is scheduled for Saturday at Homewood Field in Baltimore with kickoff expected to occur at 12 p.m.
Johns Hopkins had already cemented a berth in the tournament by defeating Franklin & Marshall, 45-30, on Nov. 9 to capture the Centennial Conference title and the automatic bid that accompanies that victory. But coach Jim Margraff said it was still nice to see the university’s name in the bracket.
“You’re in the tournament,” he said Sunday evening. “Whoever they put you up against, you play and see what you’ve got.”
The Blue Jays, who are making their fifth overall appearance and third consecutive in the NCAA tournament, will meet a Wolverines squad (8-2) that lost only to a pair of tournament participants in No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor and Rowan and defeated a Football Championship Subdivision opponent in Charlotte on Nov. 9.
The only meeting between these teams took place in the 2009 tournament quarterfinals when Wesley shut out Johns Hopkins, 12-0.
“Wesley’s a great football team,” Margraff said. “They’ve been a top team for years. They lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor, which is one of the [No.] 1 seeds. They lost to Rowan, which is a very good team. They beat a Division I team [in] Charlotte a week or two ago. So they’re outstanding.”
The Blue Jays capped their second undefeated regular season in school history by routing McDaniel, 52-21, last Saturday. Margraff said the achievement was a goal the team had set prior to the season.
“I think every team sets out to do that at the beginning of the year,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to do. It’s not easy to go undefeated, and I’m really proud of our guys for staying focused, just getting it done week in and week out.”
But Margraff said he and the players cannot bank on that momentum propelling them through the playoffs.
“I think you put the regular season behind you and now it’s a one-week season,” he said. “I’m not sure if I call it momentum. We’ve played well to this point, and now we’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us.”