Edward Sosa and Tanner Schwilk are not the biggest men playing collegiate sports — far from it.
Yet in many ways, the two represent Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology football perfectly — smaller, tenacious and competitive.
“We represent the fact that football players come in all different shapes and sizes and I think that is important and that’s who we are,” said Bulldogs coach Dennis Iezzi.
Despite their lack of size, Sosa and Schwilk were key components when Stevens hosted Maryland Prep on Saturday.
Schwilk completed 8 of 10 passes, leading scoring drives on the first two possessions. On the other side of the ball, Sosa had three sacks and recovered a fumble helping Stevens Tech remain unbeaten behind a 16-0 shutout.
“I am probably the smallest (lineman), but biggest at heart,” Sosa joked of his stature. “As soon as I get confidence, it builds up from there. One play leads to the other, leads to the other and it just keeps going.”
The Conestoga Valley grad Schwilk notices when players such as Sosa perform at their best.
“It’s so motivating,” he said. “I’m a little guy myself, and when you see another smaller guy go out and do really well, it makes you want to do really well too to show everybody that size doesn’t matter.”
After the Bulldogs’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, it took only four plays for Stevens to get on the board.
Franklin Eaddy III took a Schwilk pass 66 yards for a first-and-goal. Two snaps later, Tyreik Coaxum ran in from 5 yards out to open the scoring.
“What we saw offensively, taking that and driving down the field to score, we probably did four times this year and that’s important to get it started,” said Iezzi.
Next came a 12-play, 73-yard drive capped by Jai Whitlock’s 2-yard run for a 14-0 Tech lead five minutes into the second quarter.
Sosa ended the next Maryland Prep drive when he fell on a fumble, and although the ensuing Bulldogs’ drive stalled, the stage was set.
Entering and exiting the game allowing only 45 points all season, Stevens improved to 7-0. Sosa, a Reading grad, now has a team-high eight sacks.
“Our defense works very hard on the field. Every day we grind it out,” he said. “I look at everybody as brothers so if one is down we pick each other up and just keep it rolling.”
That has allowed the Bulldogs offense to relax.
“We want to score on every drive and every possession,” said Schwilk. “In reality, you are not going to do that, so it is nice knowing the defense is probably not going to give up points and we are going to get the ball back right away.”
Yellow flags dominated the second half both ways. The two sides combined for 230 penalty yards, mostly after halftime. Stevens was flagged 10 times for 120 yards and six of Maryland Prep’s eight first downs came as a result of Bulldogs penalties.
“I like the way we work hard in practice. I like the way our kids have improved, except for today we have always handled sudden change really well,” Iezzi said. “We didn’t do it today, so that’s a little disappointing.
“The positive thing is we came out with a victory and the kids keep working hard. I know they will shift gears and get back to where they normally are with the way they handle things.”
Stevens Tech’s final points came with 1:39 left in the first half when the Maryland punt team was called for an illegal block in its end zone for a safety.