Saturday, November 22, 2014

Game Report - West Chester 46 - Slippery Rock 20

Player News - Shabazz, Williams Nominated For Cliff Harris Award

Senior cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz and senior linebacker Ronell Williams have been named two of the candidates for the Cliff Harris Award which is presented to the small college defensive player of the year. The award was created last year by the Little Rock Touchdown Club and is presented to the top defensive player among NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA schools as chosen by head coaches and a committee of college and professional football greats.

Shabazz currently has 35 total tackles including 24 solo stops. His four interceptions, which he returned for 53 yards, coupled with his 11 pass breakups gives him 15 passes defended. Shabazz also blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown at New Haven and he also returned an interception for a touchdown at Kutztown. He was named PSAC East Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his four tackle, one interception and blocked punt effort at New Haven. He was named first team All-PSAC East, Preseason Beyond Sports Network All-PSAC, Preseason third team Beyond Sports Network All-American, Preseason first team USA Football Network All-American, and Preseason first team D2football.com All-American.


Despite missing four games this season with an injury sustained at Seton Hill, Williams is third on the Golden Rams with 52 total tackles. This includes 21 solo tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss of which one was a quarterback sack. He was named first team All-PSAC East, Preseason Sporting News All-American, Preseason Beyond Sports Network All-PSAC, Preseason first team USA Football Network All-American, Preseason first team Collegiate Development Football League All-American, and Preseason first team D2football.com All-American.


Among the 106 nominees, 51 are from Division II, 35 are from Division III and 20 are from NAIA schools. Finalists will be chosen from each division in two weeks and the overall winner will be announced on December 24. The trophy will be presented to the recipient at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet in February 2015 featuring guest speaker Lou Holtz.

The nine candidates from the PSAC are:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Player News - Derek Schatz Nominated For Gene Upshaw Award

Senior center Derek Schatz has been named one of the candidates for the Gene Upshaw Award which is presented to the top lineman in Division II football. The award was created in 2004 by the Manheim Touchdown Club and is presented to the top junior or senior offensive or defensive lineman in Division II as selected by the sports information directors.


Schatz was All-PSAC East first team as a junior and senior. Last season, when the Golden Rams advanced to the NCAA Division II semi-finals and finished 13-2, he was named second team Daktronics All-Super Region 1, first team Don Hansen Football Gazette All-Super Region One, and honorable mention Don Hansen Football Gazette All-American. Prior to this season, Schatz was named Preseason Beyond Sports Network All-PSAC, Preseason third team Beyond Sports Network All-American, Preseason second team Lindy's All-Division II, Preseason first team USA Football Network All-American, and Preseason first team Collegiate Development Football League All-American. Heading into Saturday's NCAA Division II first round playoff game versus Slippery Rock, the Golden Rams rank 25th in the country in total offense with 476 yards per game and 17th in scoring with almost 40 points per game.


The initial field of nominees narrows to two finalists from each region on November 24. Those eight names then comprise the national ballot. The overall winner will be announced on December 15. The annual winner has a standing invitation to the East/West Shrine Game and the NFLPA All-Star Game, which gives the winner an opportunity to play in front NFL coaches and scouts prior to the NFL Draft

The 16 candidates from Super Region I are:

Manheim Touchdown Club - Region 1 Ballot

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Player News - Sean McCartney Nominated for Harlon Hill Award

Senior quarterback Sean McCartney has been named one of 36 candidates for the Harlon Hill Trophy. The Harlon Hill Trophy is presented to NCAA Division II's College Football Player of the Year.


This season, McCartney has completed 202 passes of 335 attempts (60.3%) for 2,998 yards, 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also rushed for two touchdowns. His quarterback efficiency rating of 164.2 is seventh best in the country. McCartney was named PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week after the Millersville and Shippensburg contest. And just yesterday, he was named PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year.

The country is divided into four regions and the sports information directors from each region voted to get to the current field. Regional voting, which ends November 28, narrows the field to two players from each region. Those eight players are then placed on the national ballot. The winner will be announced via a webcast on December 19 and the Harlon Hill Trophy Presentation will take place at a luncheon on January 9 in Florence, AL.

The eleven candidates from Super Region I are:
  • QB Brendan Boylan - Mercyhurst
    192-319, 2,952 yards, 29 TD's, 8 int, 162.9 eff

  • QB Joey Bradley - New Haven
    251-397, 2,675 yards, 20 TD's, 8 int, 132.4 eff

  • WR Garry Brown - California
    62 catches, 1,143 yards, 8 TD's

  • RB Shamar Greene - Slippery Rock
    230 carries, 1,459 yards, 10 TD's, 11 catches, 265 yards

  • QB Danny Guadagnoli - Bentley
    260-438, 3,443 yards, 31 TD's, 10 int, 144.2 eff

  • WR Trevor Harman - Shippensburg
    98 catches, 947 yards, 11 TD's

  • QB Steven Laurino - LIU Post
    288-472, 3,305 yards, 28 TD's, 11 int, 134.8 eff, 185 carries, 602 yards, 18 TD's

  • QB Sean McCartney - West Chester
    202-335, 2,998 yards, 34 TD's, 8 int, 164.2 eff

  • QB Brian Novak - Concord
    174-286, 2,938 yards, 30 TD's, 10 int, 174.8 eff

  • LB Justin Shirk - Bloomsburg
    97 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 1 int, 2 PBU, 3 QBH, 2FF

  • QB Matt Soltes - East Stroudsburg
    180-300, 2,778 yards, 30 TD's, 8 int, 165.5 eff

Game Preview - Slippery Rock

The #15 Golden Rams (10-1) return to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second consecutive season when they host Slippery Rock (9-2) on Saturday at noon. West Chester received the #4 seed in Super Region I while Slippery Rock is seeded #5 after defeating Bloomsburg in the PSAC championship game.

This season, Slippery Rock and West Chester shared seven common opponents. The only outcomes that the two teams did not share were Bloomsburg (Slippery Rock win 28-26, West Chester lost 41-10) and Mercyhurst (Slippery Rock lost 45-23 in Ann Arbor, MI, West Chester won 38-14). It's interesting to note that both of Slippery Rock's losses came by 20+ points.

Series History:

The overall series is even at seven games each, with head coach Bill Zwaan owning a 2-1 record against the Rock. Slippery Rock head coach George Mihalik is in his 27th season and has a career record of 185-108-4. He led the Rock to the playoffs in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2013 and has a postseason record of 3-4, although 0-3 on the road. Winston-Salem St knocked out the Rock in the first round last year, 27-20.

These two teams met for the conference championship game in 1961, 1963, 1972, 1973 and 1974 with West Chester winning the first two and Slippery Rock capturing the final three. In the final game of the regular season in 2006, with both teams owning a 7-3 record and the winner destined for the NCAA playoffs, West Chester won by a score of 21-20 when the Rock's 48-yard field goal attempt drifted wide left in the pouring rain in Slippery Rock.

In 2010 also in Slippery Rock, Shawn Leo kicked a field goal to put the Golden Rams up 27-24 with two and a half minutes left. But the Rock converted a 47-yard field goal of their own with 31 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Rock quickly scored a touchdown in overtime, but Nick Garcia blocked the point after giving West Chester hope. Although the Golden Rams picked up a first down, they were unable to get into the end zone and fell 33-27.

Last 10 Meetings:

Year
H/A
W/L
Score
Year
H/A
W/L
Score
1961
Home
Win
21-0
1996
Home
Win
31-21
1963
Home
Win
36-7
1997
Away
Loss
27-14
1972
Away
Loss
29-27
2006
Away
Win
21-20
1973
Home
Loss
28-14
2010
Away
Loss
33-27 OT
1974
Away
Loss
20-7
2011
Home
Win
20-17


Last Meeting:


09/17/2011 West Chester 20 - Slippery Rock 17

West Chester was desperate for a win after opening the 2011 season 0-2 and were hosting 2-0 Slippery Rock. In a defensive struggle in which the Rock outgained the Golden Rams 295-221, West Chester won by a score of 20-17. West Chester used two big plays, a 65-yard touchdown catch by Rondell White and a 49-yard punt return by Jackson Fagan, and two Shawn Leo field goals for the scoring. Sean McCartney completed only seven passes in 18 attempts for 143 yards and a touchdown. And both teams managed only 53 yards rushing. As a redshirt freshman, linebacker Mike Labor registered a game-high 12 tackles including a tackle for loss and an interception. John O'Donnell had two interceptions including one at the West Chester 22-yard line with a minute left to secure the win.

Scouting the Opponent:
In Slippery Rock, the Golden Rams will see a team that is almost a mirror image of itself. Both have high octane spread offenses that post big numbers in terms of both yards and points, and relatively stingy 4-3 defenses that limit both yards and points. How the Rock gets it done on offense is different, though, as they will run the ball 50 times a game, but they still log a respectable 257 yards per game through the air. Defensively, the Rock allows less than 90 yards per game on the ground, but their pass defense appears to be somewhat susceptible in terms of yards. However they also have 16 interceptions, second in the PSAC only to Bloomsburg. Slippery Rock and West Chester are one and two in the PSAC in kickoff returns, two and three in kick overage, are separated by only two yards in net punting, and three yards per punt return. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

The running game is led by sophomore Shamar Greene (230 carries, 1,459 yards, 10 TD’s) who has rushed for at least 100 yards eight times this season, including 116 yards against Bloomsburg last week. He has lost five fumbles this season, including two in the PSAC championship game on Saturday. The Rock also looks to Greene in the passing game as he has 25 catches for 265 yards. He’s spelled by Indiana (PA) transfer Teddy Blakeman (108 carries, 445 yards, 8 TD’s) who is a bigger running back at 5’10 210 lbs. Both were All-PSAC West last season. They run behind a line that returned all five starters from last season, including Cory Tucker who was also All-PSAC West last year.

The Rock passing game is where things get interesting. Redshirt sophomore Zack Newsock (149-239, 1,664 yards, 12 TD’s, 10 interceptions) opened the season as the starting quarterback, but gave way to senior Jared Buck (81-127, 1,103 yards, 11 TD’s, 3 interceptions) after throwing three picks in their loss at California. Buck has played very well and was named Most Valuable Player of the PSAC championship game, but left that game after getting knocked unconscious early on the fourth quarter and did not return. Buck (44 carries, 175 yards, 1 TD) is also a mobile quarterback, and is expecting to be ready for Saturday. Even so, Newsock has plenty of experience and, oh yeah, Shamar Greene to carry the ball 20+ times.

When it comes to receivers, get out your mirror again. The Rock has seven players with at least 14 catches this season with none having gained 600 yards. Their top receiver is Melvin German (31 catches, 562 yards, 7 TD’s) who’s a 6’3 senior transfer for Florida Atlantic. All-PSAC West Jaimire Dutrieuille (49 catches, 547 yards, 4 TD’s) is a 5’8 speedster and Drew Scales (42 catches, 446 yards, 2 TD’s) is another option. Youngstown St transfer Juilian Harrell (14 catches, 14 yards, 1 TD) was All-PSAC West last season at tight end.

Scales handles both punt and kick returns and returned a kickoff for touchdown against Seton Hill. Against Gannon, Sam Funk blocked a punt and Nick Davis returned it six yards for a touchdown. Sounds a lot like Shabazz at New Haven. Punter Andrew Huska is averaging 38 yards on 58 punts, landing 18 inside the 20, forcing 18 fair catches, but also eight touchbacks. Mike Wainauskis is 10 of 12 on field goals with a long of 41 (two blocked) and 51 of 55 PAT’s. Tyler Matusak handles kickoff duties and has 15 touchbacks on 75 kickoffs.

Defensively, redshirt freshman defensive end Marcus Martin (66 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 10 QB hurries) was named PSAC West Freshman of the Year. He leads the PSAC and is third in the country with 16.0 sacks this season. All-PSAC West linebacker Austin Miele (86 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions, 11 pass breakups) is the Rock’s leading tackler and will appear to be everywhere on the field.

In the secondary, free safety Derrick Fulmore (57 tackles, six interceptions, 5 pass breakups) is second in the PSAC in interceptions. Cornerbacks Admire Carter (29 tackles, three interceptions, 16 pass breakups) and Kris Williams (40 tackles, 14 pass breakups) are among the leaders in the PSAC in passes defended. Strong safety Isaiah Coleman (60 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, five pass breakups) is also an asset in stopping the run.

Analysis:
This game looks to come down to if West Chester's defense can stop Slippery Rock's running game better than Slippery Rock's defense can stop West Chester's passing game. Yes, both teams have balance to their offenses, but when it comes to crunch time, each relies on its bread and butter.

The Rock's two losses were very different from each other, although the final margin was 20 points in each. California ran out to a 28-3 lead and the Rock never got closer than 15 points. Whereas in Ann Arbor, the Rock held a 23-14 lead, but failed to score in the second half. And Bloomsburg shut out Slippery Rock in the second half this past Saturday, but the deficit was too big for the Huskies to overcome. The Golden Rams are used to fast starts, outscoring opponents 138-34 in the first quarter and 258-84 in the first half. We may know the outcome by the time the Incomparable Golden Ram Marching Band takes the field at intermission.

Notes:

The game will be broadcast live on WPHL Channel 17...The winner of this contest will travel to Athens, WV to face the #2 seed Concord Mountain Lions at noon on Saturday, November 29.

Game Coverage:


D2football - National Columnist - Bob Eblen - National Columnist

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Player News - Golden Rams Named All PSAC East

Headlined by quarterback Sean McCartney who was named PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year, 13 West Chester Golden Rams were named to the 2014 PSAC East first and second teams. Nine members of the offense and four players from the defense were recognized by the conference's coaches.

Along with McCartney, named to the first team offense was junior running back Brandon Monk, junior tight end Tim Brown, senior center Derek Schatz, senior left guard James Colivas and sophomore left tackle Doug Gilbert. Named to the second team offense was junior running back Eddie Elliott, senior right guard Antoine Bland and senior wide receiver Mike Doty.

Named to the first team defense was senior cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz, senior linebacker Ronell Williams and junior defensive end Andrew Cohen. Named to the second team defense was senior defensive end Mike Culbreath.

This site rarely editorializes, but it's absolutely ridiculous that the PSAC's sixth leading tackler, and third in the PSAC East, was not named to either the first or second team. Senior linebacker Mike Labor has 83 tackles (6th), 10.5 tackles for loss (10th) and three forced fumbles (T-3rd).

So far this season, McCartney is 202 of 335 for 2,998 yards (17th nationally), eight interceptions and 34 touchdowns (T-2nd) for an efficiency rating of 164.2 (7th). He has also scored two touchdowns rushing making him responsible for 216 points (T-9th).


Team News - WCU Playoff Record Under Zwaan

Head coach Bill Zwaan is now in his twelfth year at West Chester and this will be the Golden Rams' seventh appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs. He is 8-6 in his previous six appearances and has led his team to the national semi-finals in both 2004 and 2013. Zwaan is 4-2 in the first round, 3-1 at Farrell Stadium, and 3-3 against PSAC opponents. West Chester enters this season's playoffs as the fourth seed in Super Region I and is set to host PSAC foe Slippery Rock on Saturday at noon.


West Chester in the Playoffs Under Zwaan:
Year
Seed
Round
H/A
Opponent
Conf
W/L
Score
2004
4
First
Home
C.W. Post
NE10
Win
35-3
2004
4
Second
Away
Shippensburg
PSAC
Win
33-28
2004
4
Region Final
Away
East Stroud.
PSAC
Win
48-38
2004
4
Semi-finals
Away
Valdosta St
GSC
Loss
45-21
2005
5
First
Away
C.W. Post
NE10
Loss
24-20
2006
6
First
Away
Bryant
NE10
Win
31-29
2006
6
Second
Away
Bloomsburg
PSAC
Loss
21-20
2007
3
First
Home
Indiana
PSAC
Loss
45-25
2008
4
First
Home
South. Conn.
NE10
Win
52-32
2008
4
Second
Away
Bloomsburg
PSAC
Loss
28-21
2013
3
First
Home
American Int
NE10
Win
38-7
2013
3
Second
Away
Bloomsburg
PSAC
Win
40-38
2013
3
Region Final
Away
Shepherd
MEC
Win
28-7
2013
3
Semi-finals
Away
Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC
Loss
42-14