Johns Hopkins can wrap up an undefeated campaign and guarantee a home game in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs with a win at Centennial Conference rival McDaniel this Saturday, but the team might have to play without a pair of starters on offense.
Senior running back Brandon Cherry injured his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 45-24 victory over Franklin & Marshall. The Parkville resident and Boys' Latin graduate could not put any weight on the ankle, and coach Jim Margraff said the team's leading rusher (713 yards and eight touchdowns) is questionable.
"We held him out yesterday," Margraff said Wednesday morning. "He's another guy we won't take chances with. We'll see how he's feeling on game day, but we're not going to push him this week."
If Cherry can't play, junior Stuart Walters (695 yards and 12 scores) will start for the Blue Jays (9-0 overall and 8-0 in the league). Margraff said sophomore Ryan Cary and freshman Tyler Messinger could also see some time against the Green Terror (0-9, 0-8).
"We've got a lot of good backs," Margraff said. "We feel very comfortable with our running backs. A couple guys that haven't had much time, we're looking forward to seeing how they do."
Senior left guard Fernando Concepcion did not make his usual start against the Diplomats (6-3, 5-3) because of an unspecified injury, and Margraff said he would not risk any players with the playoffs scheduled to begin Nov. 21.
"We're not taking anyone lightly, but by the same token, we want everyone healthy two weeks from now," he said. "So if there's any question at all, even if they say, 'He can go, but rest would do him good,' we're going to rest him. So I'm not even sure if it will be his decision. I would say it's doubtful for this week. We want him to get his rest."
Junior Blake LaDouceur started in Concepcion's place, and the offense rolled up 38 points, 25 first downs and 576 yards.
"We've been playing seven guys throughout the year, and Blake's been playing fairly regularly," Margraff said. "So Blake's played a good portion of each game this year. He was fine."
Senior right tackle Rowan Cade injured his right ankle in the third quarter of Saturday's win, but returned after sitting out a series. Margraff said Cade "is good to go."