One Wittenberg football coach pointed out Tuesday it was kind of nice having the second Saturday of the season off a year ago because the Tigers won their first game.
However, not getting to play this season a week after losing their opener 49-24 at Butler was a form of torture for a program that had won five openers in a row.
Senior wide receiver Brendon Cunningham would agree with that. He had a good day with eight catches for 95 yards against Butler, yet left the field Sept. 7 in Indianapolis knowing the Tigers should have competed better.
“Butler won, but we were driving the ball,” Cunningham said. “We hurt ourselves. It’s going to be a lot of fun to get back out there this Saturday and prove to everybody that we’re still a top team in the nation.”
The voters in the D3Football.com poll dropped Wittenberg from 10th to 16th after that loss. They fell another spot this week after not playing last weekend.
Now the Tigers get nine games in nine weeks, all against North Coast Athletic Conference opponents, to rebuild their resume. It starts with another game in Indiana, their first road game against DePauw (0-1) since the other Tigers joined the league last season.
Cunningham was one of four receivers to get in the end zone in a 52-14 win over DePauw last season. The Fairmont High School graduate has been a key player in the offense since his freshman season.
If Cunningham can match last year’s totals of 60 catches and 909 yards, he would finish in the top three in Wittenberg history in career receptions and second all-time behind only Josh McKee in receiving yards. Playing with McKee and Michael Cooper for two seasons certainly helped Cunningham.
“Both of them are the top receivers in school history,” Cunningham said. “I learned a lot from them. Coop, now being a coach, he’s teaching me a lot more. We played together, so I know where he’s coming from. I definitely still call him Coach Coop.”
Cunningham has also benefited from a connection with quarterback Reed Florence, a fellow senior. Last season was Florence’s first as a starter, and Cunningham was his favorite target.
“Our lockers freshman year were close to each other,” Cunningham said. “Our dorms were right next to each other. So right away we started talking to each other. It made it a lot easier. I was with him a lot. We became friends. Now we’re roommates.”