The Wittenberg helmet tells quite the story in a couple of different ways.
The players started wearing a white sticker with the No. 81 on their helmets last week in honor of former Tiger Ron Duncan, who died Sept. 26. Duncan was not only one of the great wide receivers in school history, he made a big mark on Wittenberg and Clark County throughout his life with the Ron Duncan Scholar-Athlete Program.
Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham played against Duncan’s son, Ron, when Fincham was at Ohio University and Duncan was at Ball State. When Fincham came to Wittenberg as an assistant coach, he was in charge of the weight room and ran into Duncan, who was working out on a rowing machine. Duncan was instrumental in helping Wittenberg revamp its weight room years later.
There’s no doubt many former Tigers will reminisce about Duncan today, on homecoming weekend, as the 18th-ranked Tigers (3-1) prepare to play Denison (4-1) at 1 p.m. The current players always feel a little extra pressure to perform in front of the alums. After all, they’re reminded all the time about the past just by looking at their helmets.
“We talk about the three stripes on the helmet,” senior quarterback Reed Florence said. “One for the past Tigers, one for the present Tigers and the last one is the for the future Tigers. We just want to go out and play smash-mouth football.”
The Tigers have dominated their last three opponents — DePauw, Oberlin and Hiram — by a combined score of 153-9. Those three teams have three wins between them. Just winning wasn’t going to be enough for Fincham, who said he was embarrased by penalties and turnovers in a 49-9 victory over Hiram last week.
Fincham said the Tigers responded in practice this week. He hopes it results in a better performance against Denison. The Big Red are 3-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference and are tied with Kenyon for second place behind Wittenberg and Wabash (both 3-0).
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but most of the time you’re going to play like you practice,” Fincham said. “We have practiced better, but my God, we couldn’t have practiced much worse than we did last week.”
Who: Denison (4-1, 3-1 NCAC) at Wittenberg (3-1, 3-0 NCAC), 1 p.m.
Where: Edwards-Maurer Field
Last meeting: Wittenberg won 45-27 in 2012