Quaker football ends season with winning record

It was a brisk day in the Armfield Athletic Center, as the Quakers played host to in-conference opponent Emory and Henry College. The stands were calm despite the high stakes of the game. The Quakers could post their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1990. Both fans and players alike seemed determined to finish the season on a high.

The game started slow; however, Guilford grew restless as the afternoon wore on. It wasn’t until late in the game when they finally began to prove their dominance.
The start of the fourth quarter brought the urgency the Quakers’ needed to rally back from 10 points down. Quarterback Josh Vogelbach led his team in a monstrous performance against the visiting Wasps.Vogelbach, a junior, completed 34 passes on 54 attempts and threw for 364 yards and one touchdown on his way to breaking both his personal best and the school’s records for single-season pass completions and throwing yards. Hagan Miller was on the receiving end of many of those receptions, catching 11 passes for 134 yards.

High stats are nothing new to the Quaker football team this season, with Guilford’s passing game improving drastically from last year. Interceptions went down from 26 to 18. Passing yardage jumped to 3,769 yards from last year’s 3,484; and Vogelbach’s completion percentage climbed from 57.3 percent to 63.9 percent.

“We’re the number one pass offense in the country, and we have been for the past three years,” said Head Coach Kevin Kiesel. “Josh continues to play at a level that’s All-American status, and he’s more and more consistent every year. He cut down on his interceptions and his completion rate went up.”

Though Vogelbach and Miller had great games, it was more than a two-man wrecking crew. The end of the fourth quarter showed Guilford’s true character.
The final 10 minutes of play were cinematic, with Emory and Henry driving and the Quakers holding strong. As the Wasps kept possession, they moved closer to scoring and closer to victory. But the unthinkable happened. Emotion was flowing on both sides, as the Quaker defense made an implausible goal line stop.

The Quakers took over on their own five yard line and began their game winning drive. Guilford pounded the ball down field with burly running from Zach Bobak and calm play-calling by Coach Kiesel. Vogelbach seemed cool and collected at the helm, as he marched his team down field play by play.
As Guilford continued to run the ball, penalties by Emory and Henry only helped the Quakers. Approaching the end zone with a clear conscience, Guilford remained steady as they proved to be more of a quality team. With the end zone in sight and the Wasps on his heals, Vogelbach completed a sound, crisp pass to receiver Chad Kastor on a third down. Guilford was first and goal, on the Wasps’ five yard line.

Anticipation lingered throughout the stadium and daunting uncertainties ran through the crowd. So many things could go wrong for Guilford right now. Emory and Henry could make a goal line stop just like the Quakers did. But Guilford took no prisoners as they rallied around each other to make the final push. After several attempts to score, Justin Parker willed the ball into the end zone as he swiftly ran around the right, outside corner.

With the Quakers leading from Parker’s touchdown, the defense had to come up big to seal the game. And they did.

“We have a defensive system that our players have played and learned for two years,” Kiesel said.

The defense was the epitome of this system. They were veteran like as they took their stance one last time to defend their lead. They worked as one, but Mike Six came up huge with key sacks to allow Guilford to emerge the victor.

The 21-17 win pushed Guilford to a 6-4 overall record and their second consecutive winning season under Coach Kiesel. Though the Quakers will graduate nine talented seniors this year, the future continues to look promising, especially on defense.

“Now we’re going to have seniors, juniors, and sophomores play in our defensive system, instead of just the sophomores and juniors,” Kiesel said.

Next year should be even stronger. With Vogelbach returning, the passing game should be full throttle, and with the defensive system in tact, Guilford should be true contenders for the ODAC title.

“A lot of these (players) are guys who are going to come back,” Sports Information Director Dave Walters said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn’t be able to contend next year.