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Stevenson football more focused on Widener than school record for wins

On Saturday, Stevenson set a new school record by earning its fifth win of the season, a 57-0 shutout of Middle Atlantic Conference foe FDU-Florham.

The number of victories surpassed last year's total of four in 10 games, but the milestone is an afterthought for coach Ed Hottle.

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"Right now, we don't focus on that stuff," he said Thursday morning. "I think everybody's aware of it. I know that I've been asked a ton about it, but I don't know that we've ever even talked about it because our goals are much bigger than just winning five games. We want to win them all. At this point, we're trying to get to eight wins. In two months, we'll look back at it, but hopefully, we'll be looking back at an eight and not a five. That's kind of where our mindset is at this point."

To accomplish that goal, the Mustangs (5-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference) must win their last three games, a stretch that begins Saturday at Widener. The Pride (7-0, 6-0) are ranked No. 12 in the most recent American Football Coaches Association poll and are tied with No. 18 Delaware Valley (7-0, 6-0) for the Middle Atlantic Conference lead.

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With losses to Delaware Valley and Lycoming (5-2, 4-2), Stevenson is fully aware that it can't afford to drop Saturday's game.

"If we're going to be in that conversation in two and a half weeks, this is one that we need to get," Hottle said. "I think at this point, we have to win out and then we need a ton of help because theoretically, we're two games behind. So a lot would have to happen for us to be in that conversation. But our motivation is to go out and win this ballgame and win the next three. The kids know what the deal is. We talked about it on Monday. For us to be in that conversation, we have to win out."

In the losses to Delaware Valley and Lycoming, the Mustangs averaged 11.5 points, 216 yards of offense and 10.5 first downs, while surrendering 33 points, 424 yards and 21.5 first downs. In five victories, the team has averaged 27.4 points, 314 yards of offense and 16.8 first downs, while allowing 7.8 points, 230.6 yards and 11.4 first downs.

Hottle said Stevenson must play mistake-free football for a shot at upsetting Widener.

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"We've got nothing to lose," he said. "At the end of the day, when you're playing the No. 12 team in the country, people don't expect you to have any success, and that's just fine with us. We're going to go out, work our butts off, and do everything we can to get a W. We've just got to be relaxed. I think that's a big part of it. We can't play if we're afraid to make mistakes. I think these guys care so much and work so hard that sometimes that's hard to do. But we've got to find a way to go out and be relaxed and hopefully get some breaks and be in the fourth quarter with a shot to win."

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