Leading the ship

Football names captains for 2018-2019

Four Muhlenberg football players were named team captains by Head Coach Nate Milne on April 26. Matt Gibbon ‘19, Kyle Oprisko ‘19, Luke Wiley ‘19, and Mickey Kober ‘20 will lead the Mules out of the locker room and into Scotty Wood Stadium on Saturday afternoons next fall.

“I plan to help my teammates create a positive winning atmosphere that promotes competition,” explained Gibbon. In Gibbon’s time as a quarterback in the Mules program he has been critical in the transition from the Nick Palladino era. In the 2017 season, a year in which the Mules started two different QBs throughout the season, Gibbon had four touchdowns — three passing and one rushing.

In leading the Mules, Gibbon hopes this year’s squad is cohesive and in contention to top the Centennial Conference. “I want to make sure that every single guy on the team feels like a part of our Mule family and encourage everyone to bring out the best in each other, on and off the field,” he explained.

Kyle Oprisko has been a staple of the Muhlenberg offensive line for the past two seasons protecting quarterbacks and helping push the ball upfield. In 2016 and 2017 he started all 11 games, and in 2016 he was part of an offense which led the conference in rushing, total offense, and points per game.

This program has been historically a great program and I am honored to continue the chain of great football teams here at Muhlenberg,” said Oprisko. The right guard wants his leadership style to go well beyond the gridiron. “I want to be a captain that the team can trust to solve problems on and off the field, and most importantly I want to be a captain that leads by example in terms of working hard in the classroom and weight room.”

Luke Wiley, the third captain, has been a nightmare for opposing offenses in his three seasons that he lettered as a safety. He won team rookie of the year in 2015, along with Centennial Conference Honorable Mention honors in his opening season. 2016 landed him on the Honorable Mention team again. Known for his hard his, Wiley has accumulated 129 tackles, six interceptions, and six pass breakups in his three seasons in the Mules secondary.

Luke Wiley leaps up to break up a pass during the Mules ECAC bowl victory at the University of Delaware’s football stadium. Photo Courtesy of Muhlenberg Athletics.

Kober, the lone junior captain, is also on the defensive side of the ball. He has started all 11 games in both the 2016 and 2017 season and totaled 123 tackles total. Kober rose to the occasion in the Mules playoff appearance in 2017, picking off two passes as the Mules cruised to the championship.

After experiencing a post-season win this past season, it would be awesome to get ourselves back into that scenario because of how much we all enjoyed that experience. Matt Gibbon

The captains hope to foster a close-knit and family-first attitude among the program, a major reason why Gibbon and Oprisko both say they chose to pursue a student-athlete career. “On my overnight recruiting visit to Muhlenberg I realized how close the team was. Being a part of the Muhlenberg football family has led to me finding some of my best friends and has helped create so many memories that have truly made my ‘Berg experience amazing,” said Gibbon.

“Football was my means of getting in Muhlenberg, and has since served as a platform to meet people who are going to be my lifelong friends,” Oprisko echoed.

The team also has a new leader beyond the captains. Coach Milne will take on the head coaching reigns after serving the previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Mules. Both Gibbon and Oprisko are excited with how the programs first offseason under Milne has been going.

“Our first semester with Coach Milne (as the head coach) was definitely a semester in which we made progress in achieving next year’s goals,” said Oprisko. “We have not missed a beat in the transition of coaches.  Also not much has changed this year from previous years except for our pre-practice stretch routine.”

Since the team’s current seniors were Milne’s first class at Muhlenberg, Gibbon says that the two were able to help each other transition to life as a Muhlenberg Football family member. “Since we were both on the offensive side of the ball I have gotten to know him very well. Coach Milne is an extremely hard worker and is someone who has a real passion for the game of football.”

Already, Gibbon is impressed and excited about the idea the head coach implemented in his first offseason. “One of my favorite things about it was his idea to create a tremendous team bonding event with our final spring practice by inviting our families and incoming freshman to come watch and have a post-practice meal with us afterwards.”

This program has been historically a great program and I am honored to continue the chain of great football teams here at Muhlenberg. – Kyle Oprisko

The Mules have had been one of the most prestigious college football teams in Division III over the past decade.  Since 2012 the Mules have won at least eight games out of their 11 game schedule every season. The program is also coming off of a 2017 ECAC Bowl Game victory against Carnegie Mellon.

The goals of this program are simple. Chase the ring. Win the Centennial. Dominate the postseason. All of which Oprisko and Gibbon believe are possible. “We have the talent to win our conference. We have a lot of starters coming back, and our young guys are making great improvements with their knowledge of football and have gotten noticeably stronger from their work in the weight room,” said Oprisko.

Gibbon agreed: “After experiencing a post-season win this past season, it would be awesome to get ourselves back into that scenario because of how much we all enjoyed that experience.”

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