Courtesy of Lock Haven Sports InformationRace
D-II Lock Haven looking to end 45-game losing streak
On Nov. 10, 2007, Lock Haven (Pa.) beat Clarion 17-14. They have lost all 45 games since.
Just one more loss will tie them for the longest losing streak in the history of Division-II football.
Fifth-year quarterback Jarrett Kratzer’s career at LHU coincides with that winless run. But now he feels the program is on the right track as he looks to end his collegiate career with at least his first win. This is the best team he’s played for in five years, he said. And with this team, he hopes to avoid some dubious history.
“I’ve been able to get myself motivated again,” Kratzer said. “I mean, going out there and not ending up with the result we want, essentially we just have to stay positive to the point where we know we’re going to get one and we know our time’s coming.”
Kratzer feels that confidence, though Lock Haven has not had a winning season since 1982. And the Bald Eagles are scoreless through three games this season.
Kratzer and his teammates prefer not to think of their infamous streak, though he admits it inevitably comes to mind. While head coach John Allen never mentions the streak, his influence on the program in just his second year at the helm has Kratzer believing in the team’s future success.
The 2012 season is LHU’s first with Allen’s recruits on the team. Not only are this season’s freshmen higher-caliber athletes than in seasons past, there are simply more of them. The Bald Eagles came to campus this fall with 105 players on the roster, said Kratzer. In the previous four seasons, he said, they never broke camp with more than 70.
Injecting young talent, in addition to some schematic changes, forced Allen’s players to “learn to practice.”
“We practice very fast during practice, very detail-oriented. I can see that,” Allen said. “We go from drill to drill in a crisp manner, so I’m not sure that was the case before I got here, but it’s the case now.”
Allen looked over the years prior to his hiring and saw very few upperclassmen. He had just five seniors in his first season in charge. There are 12 this season. He expects around 16 next year.
A lack of senior leadership plagued LHU football.
“That tells me that kids weren’t staying around within the program, and when you don’t have groups of freshmen on up that stick around for all four years,” Allen said, “then you have a lot of turnover, and that’s not good when you’re trying to build a program.”
Allen recruits players to fit his fast-paced, aggressive style of play on both sides of the ball. He knows his team cannot recruit top-tier, D-II talent. Instead he recruits the best players he can, selling the school’s academics and reviving ties to the community.
Ultimately, he goes after speedy, intelligent players to keep his offense constantly on the move, and powerful but equally fast talent to fuel his 4-3 defense.
“We’re definitely looking for those tweener types at times,” Allen said. “Obviously, if we can get the big studs, there’s no question, we all want the studs. But like I said, that’s not always going to be the case. We try and find kids that fit well in our system and play well in our system.”
That style of play has kept fans and the team positive, despite its lack of on-field success. According to Allen, alumni and students who watched LHU practice and play are excited by the squad’s progress.
Saturday’s potentially historic game against Edinboro coincides with the town of Lock Haven’s Community Day. In an effort to get the student body to the game, players are scheduled to make appearances around campus through this week. The Bald Eagles will give out free pizza and T-shirts to students in residence halls, and “get ’em rowdy,” Allen said.
Yet the energy and positive improvements will not mean nearly as much without a win. After more than four years with the team, Kratzer still does not know the feeling of victory in a game of college football.
“It would pretty much just give the program a new direction, new hope,” Kratzer said. “We feel like we’re right there, to actually getting it and actually feeling what it feels like to win again.
“It’s going to be huge.”
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