Friday, October 16, 2009

Mid-season analysis

With the football season at the midway point, it's time to take a look at the three area football teams, how they've done and where they're going:


What most fans remember about this season is the opening two losses, the first to Saginaw Valley State and the following week against Bloomsburg. In those games, quarterback Josh Portis did not play well and tailback Windell Brown was lost with a sprained ankle.
Since the loss to Bloomsburg, Portis has played great, he has not thrown an interception in his last 120 attempts, a span covering 19 quarters. He has 19 touchdowns, four interceptions and 1,425 yards. Cal has won five in a row and appears to be headed back to the playoffs, except . . .
The West Division of the PSAC appears to be weak this year. Indiana is down and even Edinboro, with a 6-1 record, has not really dominated.
Somewhat lost with the offensive problems is the defense not playing up to expectations. The loss of nose tackle Sam Fikaris a few weeks ago hurt but the secondary has beem scorched for 184 yards per game and opposing quarterbacks are completing nearly 60 percent of the passes.
Brown needs to stay healthy because backup Freddy Bacco is a good complementary runner but not effective enough to carry the running game.
Cal will get a chance to play Bloomsburg again.

Opponent: Edinboro
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Adamson Stadium in California
Records: California is 5-2, 4-0 in the PSAC. Edinboro is 6-1, 4-0 in the PSAC.
On the air: WCAL-FM 91.9
Television: FSN
Games remaining: Edinboro, at Slippery Rock, Mercyhurst, PSAC game.

Washington & Jefferson

One might think that a team that has a rotation system at tailback and quarterback would struggle on offense. But that hasn't been the case for the Presidents. Gino Rometo and Steven Shumaker have made a very good 1-2 punch at quarterback. The Presidents are only fourth in the PAC in passing at 247 yards per game. But that stat is misleading because W&J is tied with Thomas More for the rushing lead at 184 per game.
Terrence McAllister, Derek Taylor and Brian Baldrige have combined for 791 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Almost lost in those numbers is how well the defense has played. Maybe the best game came two weeks ago when Grove City record-setting quarterback Dave DiDonato was held without a touchdown and intercepted twice. Defensive end Jacob Bloomhuff is having an outstanding season with nine quarterback sacks and seven tackles for losses. The secondary has produced seven interceptions.
Everything comes down to an Oct. 31 home game against Thomas More, which beat W&J last year to win the PAC title.
The Presidents can get into the NCAA Division III playoffs with one loss, as they did last season. The PAC is not especially strong and an emotional home game against Waynesburg is probably all that stands in the way of the Presidents and an undefeated season if they beat Thomas More.

Opponent: Saint Vincent
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Saint Vincent
Records: W&J is 5-0, 2-0 in the PAC. Saint Vincent is 0-6.
On the air: WJPA-AM 1450
Television: None
Games remaining: at Saint Vincent, at Westminster, Thomas More, at Bethany, Waynesburg

Waynesburg University

Just when you thought Waynesburg was ready to make a big move up in the PAC, a game like last week's loss to Westminster popped up. The kickoff was pushed back 30 minutes because Waynesburg arrived late because of construction on the interstate.
It went downhill from there.
The Yellow Jackets' defense gave up 562 yards against the Titans, 220 more than Westminster had averaged through the season. Waynesburg's pass defense is last in the conference, scoring defense is eighth out of nine, and run defense is sixth. Opponents are gaining an average of nearly six yards per play.
Quarterback Brad Dawson is having an outstanding season, completing 57 percent of his passes for 1,529 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's been intercepted just three times. If it weren't for him, Waynesburg would be a sub-.500 team.
The backfield rotation of Jamelle Bowers, Justin Falcon and Billy Becker gives different looks but none is averaging more than 49 yards per game.
Josh Fisher is having a great year at wide receiver with six touchdown catches and Ray Hightower is one of the most underrated receivers in the conference.
Offense isn't the problem. The defense is. And if it continues to allow yardage at this rate, more games such as Westminster might be ahead.

Opponent: Geneva
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Wiley Stadium in Waynesburg
Records: Waynesburg is 3-2, 0-2 in the PAC. Geneva is 4-1.
On the air: WCYJ-FM 88.9
Television: None
Games remaining: Geneva, Bethany, at Grove City, Thiel, at W&J

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