Titan’s streak ended

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Pat Mollo, Staff Writer

 

Titan football star Artie Checchin suffered a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments in the Titans’ 33-15 loss against North Central College on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Checchin suffered the injury with 7:26 to go in the third quarter while scoring a two-point conversion and cutting the deficit to eight points at the time.

Before the injury, Checchin had two receptions for 54 yards including a long 42-yard run to get the Titans in scoring position.

With an agonizing Checchin down in the end zone, Tucci Stadium was quiet enough to hear a pin drop.  It would not be the only pin that dropped recently.

A pin is now located in Checchin’s right ankle holding ligaments in place after he underwent a successful surgery this past Wednesday in Arlington Heights.

Team medical personnel and teammates close by immediately rushed to Checchin after the injury.  After 10 minutes on the ground, the preseason All-American was carried off the field by training staff and players.

Needless to say, the game Saturday will be different without jersey number 14 in pads.

Saturday against Wheaton College will mark the first game Checchin has missed in his four-year career at Illinois Wesleyan.

“Not having him on the field with us is a huge loss” senior lineman Frank Toland said.  “I’ll feel nostalgic without him out there.”

Playoff hopes for the Titans are most certainly not lost.  The Titans still have a defense that is ranked first in the CCIW to go with a high-powered offense and several threats on the ground as well as in the air.

Even though Checchin’s injury creates a void the Titans that cannot be filled, the offensive load will be dispersed among the squad.

“By switching up packages and mixing and matching a little bit, we’re going to be able to do different things to give us that edge back,” junior wide receiver Austin Wagner said.

Wagner needs to be ready to shoulder a heavy load this week.  In eight games thus far, quarterback Jack Warner has targeted Wagner seven times and it has resulted in four touchdowns.  That’s a pretty promising percentage.

Coach Norm Eash made the decision to bring up first-year Mitch Pfeiffer to bolster the team’s receiving corps. Pfeiffer is similar to Checchin in speed as they both logged sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash times in preseason testing.

In addition to Pfeiffer, senior Andrew Javorka and junior Dom Comfort will also need to continue to succeed in their starting roles to ignite the offense and make big plays that Checchin is known for.

On the ground, junior Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore leads the team in touchdowns with eight and has a net 634 yards on the season.

The Titans will need these playmakers as well as the rest of the team to step up in order to find victory against seventh-ranked Wheaton College.

Illinois Wesleyan will take on the Thunder at Tucci Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 7.  It is the Titans’ Senior Day, and 24 seniors will be recognized for their careers at Wesleyan.