Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WVIAC 2011 Preview

Charleston Golden Eagles
2010 Record: 6-5
Maurice Leak and Blaine Wilson both shared time at QB last fall, but neither were spectacular, and the staff would be better off just picking one and running with it. Leak looks like the better option, as he is more of a dual threat choice in the option game as he led the team in rushing with 653 yards. In any event, the offense needs more consistency, and better production. On defense, the Eagles lose some solid depth in their top 3 tacklers, and they lose all of their pressure guys up front. Losses are deep in the secondary as well. It'll be difficult to match the 6 wins from last season. It'll be difficult to match half of that number.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Mars Hill

Concord Mountain Lions
2010 Record: 8-3
The Lions celebrated 8 wins last fall, but lost all 3 games in conference play, causing them to miss the playoffs. Zack Grossi returns at QB after passing for 3216 yards and 28 TDs last fall. Brian Kennedy did a solid job at RB, taking heat off of the passing game by rushing for 1092 yards and 12 scores, which placed him 23rd nationally. Thomas Mayo will lead the receivers after posting 74-1315-14 last season as the WVIAC's second leading receiver. Horace Daughtry returns as the second receiver in the offense. The Lions return their 4 top tacklers, led by LB Zach Gibbons (85 tackles). Gibbons and LB Joe Greenway both recorded 11.5 TFLs last fall, and Greenway also returns. The Lions also return their top three play makers in the secondary in Nate Pollard and Riyahd Richardson (13 combined passes defended), along with Aaron Martinez (5 picks). If you are looking for an early player, the Lions are it in this conference.
Season Opener: 9/3 Lenoir-Rhyne

Fairmont State Falcons
2010 Record: 5-6
The Falcons took their lumps while starting a freshman at QB in Logan Moore. Moore showed signs that he could improve, as he passed for 1874 yards and 18 TDs, but also tossed 13 picks in the mix. Moore also rushed for 5 scores to offset the balance. Patrick Pinchinat returns at RB, but was underwhelming and failed to get 100 carries last fall. Chris St. Hilaire returns at WR, but only caught 27 passes as a freshman last fall, and he is going to be the new top receiver. DB Greg Underwood was the leading tackler last fall and returns after collecting 93 tackles. Garrett Davis will be expected to lead the front 7 after collecting 71 tackles as a freshman LB. Dan Strosneider made a living as a DB who got into the backfield often, collecting 12.5 TFLs, but the Falcons have no play makers up front on the line. The Falcons have one of the deepest returning secondaries in the conference as they return their top 4 play makers led by Underwood and Dewey McDonald.
Season Opener: 9/1 Clarion

Glenville State Pioneers
2010 Record: 5-6
The Pioneers stumbled last fall, and will try to return with an up in the air QB situation resolved by the end of fall camp. Darold Hughes and Gabe Proffitt both return, but it would be best if one was able to win the job outright. Joe Mesidue returns at RB, but only ran for 583 yards and he shares the job with DeAndre Johnson. Again...pick one. Jordan Griffin and Antwan Stewart both return to give stability at WR. DB Terry Reese returns as the leading tackler (70) but there is a total lack of stability up front. DE Cliff Mason recorded 8 TFLs last fall, but more will be needed to get the defense rolling. All four of the top play makers return in the secondary, led by Reese and Brandon Absher. It could be another bumpy ride with a relatively difficult schedule.
Season Opener: 9/1 Carson-Newman

Seton Hill Griffins
2010 Record: 2-9
DJ Lenehan passed for 2216 yards, but the real issue was his 16 TDs against his 18 picks. That was a major problem in a 9 loss season. Daniel Butler returns as the new starting RB after rushing for 573 yards as the primary backup in 2010. Tyler Valdivinos and Tyler McIntosh both return at WR, but both have major improvement to show this fall for the Griffins to make a move. Defensively, the Griffins return their top 3 tacklers from last fall, led by LB Nick McGahagan and his 97 tackles on the season. That is a serious building block. McGahagan also led the WVIAC with 22.5 total TFLs last fall. Fellow LB Chris Galadyk finished with 14 TFLs, while DE Calvin Mason finished with 7. The Griffins are, however, lacking any real play makers in the secondary, and that could dictate their fate if nobody steps up.
Season Opener: 9/3 Slippery Rock

Shepherd Rams
2010 Record: 11-2
The Rams were a force to be reckoned with in the WVIAC and in the D2 playoffs, falling in the semifinals to Delta State. The Rams are now starting over at QB, with Bobby cooper having attempted all of 3 passes in 2010. Tommy Addison will be the focal point of the offense after rushing for 1670 yards and 19 scores in 2010, which was good for 12th nationally in yards per game with 119.29. Robert Byrd will be the number one target at WR, with Nikkolai Norrell stepping into the lineup as a first time starter. DB Cory Washington (81 tackles) and LB AJ Parrish (83) will be the leaders on defense, but the Rams lost some depth in tackling as well. Howard Jones takes over the leadership role on the line after recording 6 sacks last fall. Jones recorded 17.5 TFLs last season, so his presence is greatly appreciated. Elijah Davis (18 passes defended) and Keon Robinson (11) may be the best play making duo in any secondary in the country.
Season Opener: 9/3 Shippensburg

West Liberty Hilltoppers
2010 Record: 7-3
The Toppers just missed out on a playoff bid of their own last season, so this season is being treated as one of unfinished business. The problem is, the business may remain unfinished after losing Zach Amedro at QB. A three way battle is set to take place in the next week for the starting job between some very inexperienced candidates. The loss of Kevin Calhoun at RB will be a killer as well after he rushed for 1088 yards and 17 scores last fall. WL also loses superstar WR Ryan Travis, and loses most of their top receivers from last fall. Clay Beeler led the conference in tackles last fall, and he too is gone, and nobody made it into double figures for TFLs, but Matt Betz got close, and he does return up front. Carl Hayes returns to anchor the secondary, but the talent level there is rather average. It could be a hard fall for the Hilltoppers.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Edinboro

West Virginia State Yellow Jackets
2010 Record: 0-10
The Jackets are the bottom feeder of the WVIAC. Ricky Phillips struggled at QB, passing for 12 TDs to 11 picks. He is back as a junior. Fabian Payne should be the primary back, but failed to clear 100 carries, or 400 yards last fall. Landon Johnson and Benjamin Kearse return at WR, but the Jackets lose their top receiver in Jermain King. The defense was young last fall, so the good news is that the top 3 tacklers return in Dominique Matthews (80 tackles), Chris Young (79), and Tyler Long (71). Someone from this group will have to figure out a way to provide pressure up front, as the line is completely lacking play makers. Steven Bumpus and Jamar Brown provide solid pass coverage in the secondary, and are heavily depended upon.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Johnson C. Smith

West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats
2010 Record: 9-2
The Bobcats just missed out on a playoff birth in 2010, but the sudden resignation of Head Coach Denny Creehan leaves a strange void over the team. DC Jonas Jackson takes over, and task one is to find a new QB. Julien Valentin and Trey Massey both return as juniors to share the job at RB, where they combined for 1360 yards and 13 scores last fall. The top 3 receivers return in John Meadows, TJ Benners, and Lavaughan Hughes, so the new QB should have all the weapons he'll need to succeed. Jesse Robinson returns to run the defense, but there is very little production coming back around him as far as simple tackles are concerned. Jonas Celian (12 sacks) and Brian Vukela (8.5 sacks) were one and two in the conference last fall, and both return, but Mike Price, who finished 3rd in the WVIAC, moves on. Celian finished with 21.5 TFLs and Vukela wrapped up with 14. The Bobcats are set in the secondary with Ottis Scott, Stephen Knox, and John Maddox all returning. The Cats are in solid position to make a run at Shepherd.
Season Opener: 9/3 Millersville

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