WILKES-BARRE TWP. — It had been especially cold up at Betzler Fields the past week.
Starting with last Saturday’s loss to Delaware Valley, the wind has picked up and has been hanging around the fieldhouse for most of the week.
Fittingly, it matched the mood of a Monarchs team that has seen any realistic conference title hopes blow away after consecutive losses.
“Sunday and Monday were long days around here,” King’s coach Rich Mannello said. “Everybody was down. That was two bad losses. We were in films and lifting on Sunday and I think we had a bunch of kids who were really down. And they should have been. That shows it’s important.”
Fortunately for Mannello, he was pleased to report his team has responded in practice in the past few days in preparation for tomorrow’s 1 p.m. game against FDU-Florham in Madison, N.J.
Even the wind seemed to settle down on Thursday as Mannello talked about his squad’s ability to put the past few disappointing weeks out of mind.
The change, he said, started to come on Tuesday and Wednesday in practice.
“If you’re waiting for Saturday for a reaction, it’s over,” Mannello said. “If you don’t put it behind you, then it turns into three losses in a row. If you felt bad after two, how bad will you feel after three.”
Perhaps the biggest factor for the Monarchs (5-3, 5-2 Middle Atlantic Conference) in stopping their slide is regaining some semblance of consistency on offense.
While the defense has played admirably for the majority of the season, things have badly sputtered on the other side of the ball recently.
Though it would be easy to single out King’s lackluster passing game, Mannello mentioned the inconsistency in the run game as his first concern.
“The thing that I am not happy about is we’re not pounding the rock the way that we should be in this offense,” Mannello said. “And I’ve got to get that straightened out as the offensive line coach. Our guys have to start moving people.”
That’s the route the Monarchs expect to take against the Devils, as they try to get either of their two tailbacks — senior John Ortiz and junior Jeff Field — back on track to get the offense in rhythm.
Ortiz has struggled to reach the lofty heights he achieved last season as one of the top runners in the conference, as Field continues to see his carries increase.
A standout game from either would be big for a King’s squad which still has postseason aspirations. But the Devils won’t be lying down.
“FDU, I don’t care what year it is or how they’re doing — you get off the bus down there and watch them with an untrained eye, you would think they were an undefeated football team,” Mannello said.
The Devils (2-6, 2-5), of course, are not undefeated on the season. They are, however, undefeated in their last two games, a fact that Mannello has surely made his team aware of.
King’s (5-3, 5-2) at FDU-Florham (2-6, 2-5)
Time: 1 p.m., tomorrow
Place: Shields Field, Madison, N.J.
Radio: WRKC-FM (88.5), www.kings.edu/IITS/index.htm
Series: King’s leads, 9-4
Last meeting: 2005, King’s won, 49-21
King’s at a Glance
Coach: Rich Mannello, 14th year (62-79-1)
Last game: Lost to Delaware Valley, 10-0
Player to watch: Sr. RB John Ortiz (597 yds, 4 TDs)
FDU-Florham at a Glance
Coach: Rich Mosca, 5th year (13-35)
Last game: Beat Susquehanna, 21-16
Player to watch: Sr. QB Dan Huff (Pass: 1,087 yds, 7 TDs; Rush: 418 yds, 6 TDs)