The Stony Brook football team has been in this situation before.
Last season, the Seawolves opened the year winning their first three Colonial Athletic Association games and ranked in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll. Stony Brook is now ranked No. 23 and returns to LaValle Stadium to host Delaware Saturday at 6 p.m.
But last season didn’t turn out as the Seawolves hoped, losing their final four games to finish 5-6 and 4-4 in CAA. Before this season, Stony Brook players said they let the rankings become a topic of conversation around the team. That hasn’t been the case this year.
“Honestly, that’s not even a goal we look at,” said senior defensive back Tyrice Beverette, who learned about the rankings on Twitter. “I don’t even think too many guys know and I think it’s better that way that we don’t know and keep playing as an underdog and keep playing to prove everyone wrong.”
The Seawolves (4-1, 3-0 CAA) are coming off a near disastrous game in which their 21-0 lead was cut to 21-18. William & Mary could have had a 55-yard field goal try, but a penalty when attempting a spike resulted in a 10-second runoff to end the game. Stony Brook committed two personal fouls on the final drive, but the defense was able to hold off the comeback.
“It’s just the attitude we’ve been building around here,” said Beverette, who ranks third on the team in tackles and tackles for loss. “When something doesn’t go our way, we can’t panic. We just have to have composure and with composure, good things happen so we just try to stress anything can happen. Just play through the last whistle and we did.”
The Seawolves have utilized a balanced offensive approach this season, averaging 170 yards passing and 168 rushing a game. Joe Carbone has completed 63 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
Stacey Bedell leads the rushing attack with 347 yards and five touchdowns on 63 carries, with Donald Liotine adding 255 yards and Jordan Gowins gaining 173.
Even with similar team success, coach Chuck Priore called this season’s squad a “more complete team.” Stony Brook defeated Delaware, 28-3, while running the ball on 38 of 51 plays, last year.
“I think we’re a very different team this year,” Priore said. “We have many more playmakers on offense and special teams, so I think it’s a really different year and trying to separate last year from this year.”
Regardless of their fast start, the Seawolves aren’t looking toward the end of the season. They’ve learned from that last season.
“Basically we just want to take it week-by-week,” Beverette said. … “We start overlooking and thinking about playoffs now, that would be something bad for us.”