Friday, December 19, 2014

Player News - McCartney Finishes Fifth in Harlon Hill Ballot

West Chester quarterback Sean McCartney finished fifth in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy which is presented annually to the Division II Football Player of the Year. Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan won the award. McCartney received five first place votes, eight second place votes and nine third place votes for a total of 40 points. Vander Laan had 152 points and was followed by Henderson State quarterback Kevin Rodgers (143 points) and Lake Erie running back Anthony Bilal (61 points).

This ties the highest finish ever for a West Chester player since the award began in 1986. Former Golden Ram running back Rondell White finished fifth in 2013 and wide receiver Bill Hess finished tied for fifth in 1988. This also marks just the 17th time in the history of the Harlon Hill that a school has had two different players as finalists in back-to-back years with the last time coming in 2008 and 2009 by both North Alabama and Minnesota Duluth. West Chester is one of only three schools, along with New Haven and Portland St, to have two different finalists in back-to-back years twice. Before White and McCartney did it in 2013 and 2014, quarterback Al Niemela and Hess did it in 1987 and 1988.

McCartney becomes one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Golden Ram football history. This season, the team co-captain was named PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week twice (Millersville and Shippensburg), first team All-PSAC East, PSAC East Offensive Player of the Year, first team Daktronics All-Super Region 1, first team Beyond Sports Network All-Super Region 1, and second team Beyond Sports Network All-American. McCartney becomes the second quarterback to lead the Golden Rams into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, following in the shoes of current West Chester offensive coordinator Bill Zwaan, Jr. who achieved the feat in 2006 and 2007.

West Chester Athletic Site - Sean McCartney Fifth In Harlon Hill Voting

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Player News - Sean McCartney Named AP All-American

Senior quarterback Sean McCartney has been named third team on the Associated Press Little All-America team which honors the top players in Division II, III and NAIA.

McCartney ended the season 250 of 418 (59.8%) for 3,744 yards, 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an efficiency rating of 163.3. He ranks nationally in several of those passing categories, including first in touchdown passes, sixth in passing yards, seventh in passing efficiency and 11th in yards per completion. When factoring in McCartney's two rushing touchdowns, he also ranks fourth in the country in points responsible for with 266. McCartney eclipsed 400 yards passing in a game twice (Lock Haven and Slippery Rock) and threw for five touchdowns in a game thrice (Lock Haven, Shippensburg, and Slippery Rock).

This season, the team co-captain was named PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week twice (Millersville and Shippensburg), first team All-PSAC East, PSAC East Offensive Player of the Year, first team Daktronics All-Super Region 1, first team Beyond Sports Network All-Super Region 1, second team Beyond Sports Network All-American and is a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award which will be announced tomorrow.

Idaho Statesman - AP Little All-America Team

Player News - Tim Brown Named Daktronics All-American

Junior tight end Tim Brown is the sole West Chester representative on the 2014 Daktronics Division II All-American football team. He was named to the second team offense. Brown led all Division II tight ends this season with 53 receptions for 1,059 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was exceptional in West Chester's two playoff games when he had 16 catches for 380 yards and five touchdowns.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Team News - Best and Most Memorable of 2014

A few weeks ago, readers were asked for their input on the past season in a variety of categories. After aggregating all of the responses and adding some personal input as well, the results are in. Just a reminder, this has nothing to do with any awards that will be presented at the team banquet on January 31.

The categories are:
  • Best offensive performance by the Golden Rams - Slippery Rock.

    Entering the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, West Chester was facing a Rock team that had just defeated Bloomsburg to win the PSAC Championship. Their defense was allowing less than 90 yards on the ground and under 300 yards through the air per game. They also had wracked up 31 sacks and 16 interceptions on the season. But on this day, the Golden Rams would amass 148 yards rushing, 425 yards passing for 573 total yards. The Rock would register one tackle for loss on a fumble, but West Chester did not commit a turnover. Sean McCartney threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns while Andrew Derr completed his one pass attempt for a 20-yard touchdown. Tight end Tim Brown had seven catches for 164 yards and three touchdown while wide receiver Mike Doty had five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. The only reason the Golden Rams didn't had a 100-yard rusher is because six different players all had positive yards rushing. West Chester controlled the ball for 37 minutes of the game.

    Also considered: Concord

  • Best offensive performance by an individual Golden Ram - Tim Brown at Concord.

    After the Slippery Rock game, it would have been hard to believe that Tim Brown could have topped his seven catch, 164 yard, three touchdown performance. But he did so the very next week. In Athens, WV, Brown made nine catches for 216 yards and two scores. Four of his other receptions went for first downs, including gains of 22, 26 and 49 yards. With six minutes left and West Chester trailing by 16 points, Brown took a short pass from Derr and fought his way down the left sideline beating six defenders for a 62-yard touchdown to bring the Golden Rams within one possession.

    Also considered: Sean McCartney versus Shippensburg

  • Best offensive performance by an opposing team - Concord.

    Although the Mountain Lions only had 16 first downs in the game, they used several big plays to gain 231 yards rushing and 388 yards passing for a total of 619 yards in West Chester's final game of the season. Concord scored touchdowns on a 71-yard pass play, a 31-yard run, a 50-yard completion and an 87-yard run. They also used a 36-yard completion to set up a field goal to end the first half and a 49-yard pass play that got them to the West Chester 16, although it went for naught when they lost a fumble two plays later. They also had 46-yard completion to set up another field goal. That's 370 yards on just seven plays!

    Also considered: Bloomsburg

  • Best offensive performance by an opposing individual - Eddie Mateo - Bloomsburg.

    In Bloomsburg's 41-10 thrashing of West Chester, Mateo carried the ball 22 times for 269 yards - a whopping 12.2 yards/carry average - and four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 4, 12, 21 and 59 yards. And when a first quarter punt pinned the Huskies at their own 12, Mateo ripped off a 56-yard run on their first play of the series. He also had runs of 30 and 29 yards in the game, while only having one play that went for a loss of one yard.

    Also considered: Joey Bradley - New Haven

  • Best defensive performance by the Golden Rams - Slippery Rock.

    There was much talk about Slippery Rock having to resort to their backup quarterback due to an injury that their starter suffered against Bloomsburg the previous week. But the backup had started the first five games of the season, so he was far from a rookie. But the big story was the Slippery Rock running game, which, in their 11 regular season games, averaged 231 yards a game, had crossed the goal line 27 times and boasted a Harlon Hill nominee. But in the first round of the playoffs, the West Chester defense held the PSAC champions to just 31 net yards and no touchdowns on the ground. The Rock passing game mustered only 127 yards. Of Slippery Rock's 158 total yards, 99 of them came on their final two possessions after West Chester was leading 46-6 and the Golden Ram starters were resting for round two of the playoffs. The Rock averaged 1.0 yard per carry, 2.5 yards per play and were forced to punt ten times in the game.

    Also considered: Cheyney

  • Best defensive performance by an individual Golden Ram - Mike Labor at Indiana.

    In a must win game on the road at Indiana, Labor posted a season high 15 tackles in the 28-17 win. He tallied six solo stops and two tackles for loss. One key play was a third quarter, third-down stop which forced a Crimson Hawk punt which West Chester returned for a touchdown. Another occurred late in the fourth quarter, when Labor forced an Indiana fumble at midfield which the Golden Rams recovered to thwart a Crimson Hawk comeback.

    Also considered: Mike Labor at New Haven

  • Best defensive performance by an opposing team - Bloomsburg.

    At Bloomsburg, the Huskies forced the Golden Rams into six turnovers and five punts. Despite gaining 22 first downs, West Chester managed only 114 yards rushing and 170 yards passing - far below the Golden Rams' season average of 500 yards per game.

  • Best defensive performance by an opposing individual - Jerrin Toomey - Bloomsburg.

    Although he logged only one solo tackle and one assisted tackle, both of which came in the first quarter, Toomey changed the game by picking off three Golden Ram passes. His first interception happened at the Bloomsburg 15 as West Chester was attempting to get back into the game. He returned the ball 22 yards and the Huskies would score a touchdown six plays later. His second and third picks happened on West Chester's first two possessions of the fourth quarter with one happening in the end zone and the other at the Bloomsburg ten yard line.

    Also considered: Matt Zakrzewski - New Haven

  • Most memorable game - Shippensburg.

    Coming into this game, West Chester was 6-0 but hadn't been significantly challenged since its trip to Connecticut in week one. The guests had won the last three games between these two teams with the visiting team ruining homecoming in both 2013 and 2012. No surprise - this was West Chester's 2014 homecoming. So this game certainly had a lot of focus. But West Chester dominated to send the almost 7,000 fans out with homecoming glee. The first play from scrimmage was a pass from Sean McCartney to tight end Tim Brown that went 90 yards for a touchdown. The Golden Rams had two other one-play touchdown "drives" - a 20-yard run by Eddie Elliott and a 48-yard catch by Erick Brundidge. The defense logged ten tackles for loss and two of the Raiders' touchdowns came on their final two possession after West Chester was winning 55-14.

    Also considered: Slippery Rock

  • Most memorable single offensive play - Erick Brundidge touchdown catch at New Haven.

    In the middle of the third quarter under menacing skies, West Chester was looking to extend their 28-23 lead. But the Golden Rams lost a fumble at the New Haven 19 yard line. West Chester then completely unraveled as on New Haven's possession, they committed an unsportsmanlike conduct, a pass interference and another unsportsmanlike conduct. The Chargers did contribute 38 yards of actual offense and took the lead 30-28. The skies continued to darken as the West Chester offense took over and worked the ball to the New Haven 44. And then, under a bolt of lightning clearly visible from the visiting stands, Sean McCartney scrambled enough to find Erick Brundidge for the go ahead score, 35-30. After the PAT, the game was halted. If the storm had stayed in place, no one knew for sure what would happen - resume at a later date? end the game with the score as it stood? rule the entire game a no contest? To be sure, it was certainly better to be leading at that point. Although the delay lasted only an hour, there would be no further scoring in the game. It's difficult to accurately assess the importance of winning that first game of the season, on the road, against a quality non-conference opponent. Due to that one play, there was no reason to wonder.

  • Most memorable single defensive play - Mike Labor forced fumble at New Haven.

    Late in the fourth quarter, after a one hour lightning delay, West Chester was clinging to a 35-30 lead in the season opener at New Haven. West Chester had just dodged a bullet when a New Haven receiver dropped a sure first down and probable touchdown on fourth down at midfield. The Golden Ram offense failed to pick up one first down which would have sealed the victory, but a good punt pinned the Chargers at their own six with 62 seconds left. With no time outs remaining, the Chargers started up the field, quickly picking up two first downs. But from their own 32, they completed a short five-yard pass that Labor ripped out of the receiver's hands. Drew Formica landed on it and, after one kneel play, West Chester secured its first win of the 2014 season, four hours and twenty minutes after it had started.

    Also considered: Al-Hajj Shabazz diving interception at New Haven

  • Most memorable single special teams play - Blocked punt for TD at New Haven.

    At New Haven, West Chester was holding a 21-16 halftime lead. The Chargers had won the opening coin toss and elected to defer, so they chose to receive the second half kickoff. A good kickoff and coverage was aided by a New haven penalty which pinned them at their own 16. A one-yard gain and an incomplete pass set up a third down and nine. New Haven completed the pass, but Byron Cooper made it successful for the Golden Rams by stopping it for a seven-yard loss. So New Haven was forced to punt from their own 10. Jeremy Irving blocked the punt and Al-Hajj Shabazz recovered it in the end zone giving West Chester a 28-16 lead and great momentum to start the second half of the game.

    Also considered: Brandon Monk punt return for touchdown at Indiana

  • Most frustrating moment - First second half possession at Bloomsburg.

    As badly as West Chester was outplayed in the first half, the score was only 24-3. If there was any chance of the Golden Rams getting back into the game, it would require something to happen early in the third quarter. This was even more challenging since the Huskies were set to receive the second half kick. Rich Bruno's kick went to the 11 and Cory Scott made the tackle at the 12. Bloomsburg's first two plays netted three yards and on third down, Andrew Cohen registered a sack back on the Bloomsburg 4. Bloomsburg's punt went all of 18 yards, so West Chester's possession would start at the Husky 22. Everything was set for the Golden Rams to get back into this game. Perhaps the coaches had lost some confidence in quarterback Sean McCartney since West Chester's final two possession of the first half ended in interceptions. So from this outstanding field position, the Golden Rams ran for two yards on first down and a loss of a yard on second down. On third and nine, McCartney's pass to Erick Brundidge fell incomplete in the end zone. There would be no touchdown as the field goal unit trotted onto the field. And then when Bruno's field goal went wide left, the realization of no points set in. Bloomsburg then used seven plays to travel 79 yards and score a touchdown to extend the lead to 31-3. It was a frustrating 14-point swing to say the least.

    Also considered: Ronell Williams getting injured at Seton Hill

  • Best coaching decision - Moving Mike Culbreath to DE.

    It's no secret that Culbreath hadn't seen much playing time, as he was behind two of the best linebackers that West Chester has had. Entering 2014, he had career totals of 71 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, with most of his tackles coming in 2012. But moving Culbreath to defensive end solved two issues: the Golden Rams's defense needed help on the line due to losses at that position after last season and it gave Culbreath the playing time that he deserved. The result was that he performed really well. He racked up 35 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss for 46 yards including 4.0 sacks. He was also credited for a couple of quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. For the season, he was named second team All-PSAC East for a position that he didn't play prior to this season.

    Also considered: Staying committed to the running game.

  • Worst coaching decision - First second half possession at Concord.

    After trailing 17-7 at the end of the first, the Golden Rams made a frantic second quarter comeback to take a 28-27 lead at halftime. Concord received the second half kickoff and quickly moved into West Chester territory. They took a shot at the end zone, but Al-Hajj Shabazz got his fifth interception of the season giving the Golden Rams the ball at their own 18. Mainly on the legs of Eddie Elliott, West Chester got deep into Concord territory. And an 11-yard completion from Sean McCartney to Erick Brundidge set up a fourth and two from the Concord 9. This was a game with a lot of offense and a lot of touchdowns, the Golden Rams were moving the ball well, the ball was deep inside Concord territory, but the coaches elected to attempt a field goal. After a false start penalty, the 31-yard attempt was hooked wide left. Five plays later, Concord scored a touchdown to take a lead they would never relinquish.

  • Unsung Offensive Golden Ram - Eddie Elliott

    Tim Brown stands out this year for his 1,000 yards receiving and Brandon Monk for his 1,000 yards rushing. But often overlooked is the guy who contributes in both the running and passing game. Elliott carried the ball 129 times for 639 yards and five touchdowns but also had 26 catches for 328 yards and a touchdown. His dual threat capability allows the coaches to line him up in the slot, in the backfield or put him in motion. Fortunately his versatility was not overlooked by the league as he was named second team All-PSAC East this season.

    Also considered: Offensive line.

  • Unsung defensive Golden Ram - Andrew Cohen

    Cohen moved from his tackle position last year to defensive end this season. The move paid off quite well as he ended fourth on the team in tackles with 65. His 20.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks were both best on the Golden Rams and third in the PSAC. Although Cohen was named first team All-PSAC East, his statistics certainly seemed worthy of region honors. He was a consistent performer in that he logged at least one tackle for loss in every game except Cheyney when his playing time was quite limited. His effort at East Stroudsburg was most memorable as he had at least six quarterback hurries, but that statistic was not recognized by the official scorer for the game.

    Also considered: Drew Formica.

  • Most impactful newcomer - Mike Doty

    Quarterback Sean McCartney had been recruiting Doty to come West Chester for a couple of years and he was finally successful this past season. Anyone who saw Doty in the preseason saw a new 6'4" target for McCartney. Doty's first collegiate catch (he only held on place kicks for two years at Temple) came on West Chester's first possession of the season and went for a 38-yard touchdown from a scrambling McCartney and thus expectations between these two were set. He would go on to finish the season with 52 catches for 798 yards and 11 touchdowns. He registered at least one catch in every game this year and had two notable performances. At Kutztown, he had seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns and against Slippery Rock, he made five catches for 108 yards and a score.

    Also considered: Jarel Elder.

  • Special Teams MVP - Rich Bruno

    Okay, everybody knows about the missed PAT's, specifically the three both at Indiana and the following week against Slippery Rock. But none of his missed kicks ever cost the Golden Rams a game. And consider that of West Chester's 13 opponents this season, ten of them used a different guy to punt than the one who place kicked. And two of those opponents - Slippery Rock and Concord - used three different kickers: one to punt, a second to kickoff and a third to kick for points. So what Bruno was asked to do was nothing short of heroic. Of the 224 times that West Chester kicked a ball in 2014, 223 of those times it was the foot of Rich Bruno.

  • Offensive MVP - Sean McCartney

    Duh. In 2014, he set single season school marks for passing yards (3,744) and passing touchdowns (42), breaking Dave McDonald's records that had stood for 20 years. And he did that while throwing 86 fewer passes than McDonald did that season. He had at least one touchdown pass in 19 consecutive games dating back to midway through last season, and tossed five against Lock Haven, Shippensburg and Slippery Rock, and had seven 300-yard passing games this year.

  • Defensive MVP - Mike Labor

    There's no better way to say it other than Labor brought it on every play in every game. He led the team in solo tackles (47), assisted tackles (49), total tackles (96) and forced fumbles (3). He was second on the team in tackles for loss (14.0 ) while also breaking up three passes. Perhaps his quiet demeanor detracted from his on field intensity, but that is no excuse for him to not receive post season honors from the league.

    Also considered: Al-Hajj Shabazz.

Thanks to everyone that participated and for following Golden Ram football in 2014. See you at the banquet on January 31 when the real team awards will be presented.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Player News - Shabazz Finalist For Cliff Harris Award

Senior cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz has been named a finalist 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 finished the season with 39 total tackles including 28 solo stops. His five interceptions, which he returned for 70 yards, coupled with his 11 pass breakups gives him 16 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, first team Daktronics Division II All-Super Region 1, first team Beyond Sports Network Division II All-Super Region 1 and second team Beyond Sports Network All-American. Prior to the season, he was named 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 All-American.

Among the 70 finalists, 38 are from Division II, 18 are from Division III and 14 are from NAIA schools. 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 finalists from the PSAC are:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Player News - Five Players Honored for Academics

Five West Chester Golden Ram players have received honors for their performance on the field and in the classroom this season. For the second consecutive year, senior punter Rich Bruno (Exercise Science) was namd to the 24-man team. He is joined by senior linebackers Mike Labor (Finance) and Ronell Williams (Pre Occupational Therapy) and senior center Derek Schatz (Computer Science). Also named was junior defensive end Andrew Cohen (Physical Education).

The Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Football team is voted on by the sports information directors of the 29 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. West Chester was one of only three area schools with at least five players named, joining Rowan and Villanova.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Player News - Four Golden Rams Named BSN All-American

Four Golden Rams have been named to the 2014 Beyond Sports Network Division II All-American football team.

Named to the second team offense were senior quarterback Sean McCartney and junior tight end Tim Brown. Senior cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz also appears on the second team while senior center Derek Schatz was selected to the fourth team.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Alumni News - DePalma, Scott Conclude CFL Seasons

Two former Golden Rams recently completed their professional playing seasons. Despite playing in just three games this season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, wide receiver Dan DePalma finished seventh on the team in receiving yardage. In those three games, DePalma made six catches for 161 yards - a 26.8 yards per catch average - and one touchdown. The Riders lost to the Edmonton Eskimos by a score of 18-10 in the first round of the Grey Cup playoffs.

Meanwhile, defensive end Sam Scott saw action in four games this season for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He registered seven tackles, including a sack, and two fumble recoveries. The Ticats got edged by the Calgary Stampeders by a score of 20-16 in the 102nd Grey Cup championship game.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Team News - Ninth 2014 Lambert Poll

The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) has released the ninth Lambert Meadowlands football poll of the 2014 season. All Division II members of this poll have now completed their season, so no further movement in this poll is expected this season. This is the final poll of 2014 and the Lambert Award winners will be announced in early January. The Lambert Meadowlands Trophy recognizes supremacy in Eastern college football.

Overall Record
West Chester
Slippery Rock
LIU Post
American International
Alderson Broaddus

Monday, December 8, 2014

Player News - Bruno Special Teams MVP in National Bowl

Senior punter Rich Bruno was named Overall Special Teams MVP in the Fifth Annual National Bowl which was played at Ocean Bank Field on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, FL on Sunday. The game showcases the nation's top players from Division II, Division III and NAIA schools.

Bruno averaged 40.4 yards on eight punts for Red Nation while landing one inside Blue Nation's 20-yard line and booming one 50 yards. This season for the Golden Rams, he averaged 37.9 yards on his 47 punts. Only four of those 47 punts were returned for a total of 14 yards. The Golden Rams led the PSAC in team net punting and were 16th in the nation in that category. No team in the country had fewer punts returned and only one yielded fewer total punt return yards. Bruno landed 20 punts inside opponents' 20-yard line while forcing 11 fair catches.

National Bowl Game - Condensed Full Game Video