There is no DII club game in the county this weekend bigger than Wilmington vs. Doylestown. The Mid-Atlantic region has put a team in the DII National Final three of the last four years. Rocky Gorge managed to win it all in 2012, and Wilmington and Doylestown finished second in 2013 and 2011, respectively.
Saturday, Wilmington travels to Doylestown to renew a local derby that will likely decide the Mid-Atlantic’s North Division. With an unbalanced schedule, they only play each other once this fall, and both teams will be favorites to win the rest of their games.
“We’re probably both internally talking about that,” said Wilmington coach Struan Murray.
“Definitely, we’ve had some losses in the past we didn’t expect, and so have they, but you like to think that if you do your job and take care of stuff, I would say definitely has the inside track to have the No. 1 seed out of the North, and with some of the teams down south, I think being No. 1 in the North is quite important this year.”
Both Doylestown and Wilmington enter the contest 3-0, with some impressive score lines having been piled up. Last week, Doylestown hung 95 on Jersey Shore, and Wilmington ticked over 106 points against Hibernian.
Against common opponents, both teams have had their moments. Doylestown beat Media by 25, while Wilmington beat them by just five. Wilmington beat Lancaster by 37, while Doylestown beat them by just 15.
All signs point to Saturday's contest being pretty close, as it has been the last couple of years. Wilmington won by seven last fall, and Doylestown won by just five the year prior.
“They’re traditionally very mobile. They just work hard,” said Murray of Doylestown. “They don’t have a lazy guy on the team. Usually, there’s at least one lazy player you can kind of pick on, but they don’t have one.”
On the flip side, Wilmington has traditionally relied on brute force. Prop Chris Wiggins is massive, and plays like it, and his brother Kevin is also very strong from the back of the scrum. Flanker Jarrell Avant was another hard charger during Wilmington’s run last year, but he has moved away.
“It’s safe to say that now that everyone is 100-percent fit, our pack is slightly differently constructed, but very similar to last year,” said Murray. “Maybe we have a slight bit more mobility and don’t rely quite so much on force, even though we’ve got it. We can do different things by things just having natural pace.”
Outside of the Wiggins brothers, who garner a lot of attention from opponents, Wilmington relies pretty heavily on guys like back rower Phil Giordano and utility back Conor Mullarkey. Giordano played very little in the spring, as he was nursing an injury, and came back just for the Final Four.
“It was tough for him, even though he started both games,” said Murray. “He’s definitely key to us in the back row.”
Mullarkey, whose brother Pat also trolls the backfield for Wilmington, is growing into his role in the midfield.
“He’s been running at 10 and 13. He’s been willing to do whatever,” said Murray. “He’s talented, but he’s sort of matured and is now taken on more of a leadership role, but is also playing well.”