Stevenson’s first loss of the season – a 31-10 thumping by Middle Atlantic Conference foe Lycoming on Saturday – dropped the Mustangs out of any mention from the latest American Football Coaches Association Division III poll.
But as the program enjoys its upcoming bye week, coach Ed Hottle said there is still much to be optimistic about – including retaining a shot at what would be the school’s first league championship in football.
“All of our goals and things we want to accomplish are still very much out there for us,” he said Wednesday. “We’re just going to need some help, and that’s the boat we put ourselves in. That’s what we talked about on Monday, and we’re going to move forward from there.”
The Mustangs (4-1 overall and 3-1 in the league) dropped to fourth place in the conference after Saturday’s setback. They now trail the Cardinals (5-0, 4-0) and Widener (5-0, 4-0) by one game in the race for the MAC title, and Delaware Valley (4-0, 3-0) sits in third place.
Stevenson may have been hoping to extend its school-record start to five consecutive wins, but Hottle disputed the notion that any momentum the team gained in the first four games has fizzled.
“I’ve been asked this question three or four times,” he said. “If somebody had told you in August that you’d start off with four of five games on the road against some pretty good teams and you’d be 4-1, would you take it? No, I wouldn’t because I want to win all of them, but I think it’s a good start. I think we’ve got some really big ballgames in front of us. We’ve got some confidence. I don’t know that Saturday will necessarily rattle our confidence. I think it will help us become a better and closer football team because we know what adversity looks like.”
Rebounding from the loss to Lycoming will begin in earnest next week. Hottle sent the players home on Wednesday, and the staff will be directed out of the offices after Thursday. Hottle said the team, which will return on Sunday night, needs to get away from football.
“It’s been a successful first half, but with that comes a certain amount of work, and I want the guys to come back in ready to go,” he said. “The goal is going to be winning five football games in the second half of the year. I think that’s something that’s important, that we get not only some physical rest, but also the mental piece of getting away, getting together with friends and family. Getting away from football is just as important as the physical part.”