The last time the Golden Rams walked off the gridiron, the bitter taste of defeat was fresh in their mouths after a heartbreaking 21-20 defeat on the road against Bloomsburg in the second round of the Division II playoffs. Exiting stage left that afternoon were senior captains Chris Tagye, David Montgomery, Brent Steinmetz and Mark Maynard along with six other seniors that Nov. afternoon. Many teams would struggle to replace that much talent in the short turnaround of one offseason.
Not the Golden Rams. WCU will be returning 19 of 22 starters after falling a partially blocked field goal shy of advancing to the National quarterfinals a year ago. The task for this coaching staff is to find the perfect balance between youth and experience on a roster poised to extend their season three games longer then a year ago. We have a lot of players returning and a lot of experience along with that, which will allow us to put in some new plays and try different things,” Head Coach Bill Zwaan said. “It is always exciting to get back out there on the field this time of year and see where we stand.
Spring practice begins Wednesday leading up to the Annual Purple and Gold game on April 26. Not to say that there aren’t question marks on this roster, but there are few teams in the PSAC with as much returning talent as the Golden Rams have at their disposal entering the 2007 season.
Bill Zwaan Jr., Osagie Osunde and Mike Washington return to an offense that sat alone atop the Division II rankings down the stretch last season. This could also blossom into deepest backfield in the conference, as Osunde will be paired with Patrick McDermott and D’Andre Webb who the coaching staff is very high on. The staff has also solidified the offensive line for years to come through its 2007 recruiting class announced last week. On paper there is no reason for the offense not to rank amongst the best in Division II once again this season.
Defensively, the loss of Jimmy Lewis leaves a void in the middle that must be addressed, but Lateef Ferguson enters his senior season as the unquestioned leader of the defensive unit. Mike Dell played his way into the starting lineup down the stretch last season and looks to be a factor in pass coverage from the outside linebacker spot once again this season. Also, look for Sam Scott to get extended work this season and very well could blossom into a hybrid defensive end/linebacker that teams will need to game plan for, and quarterbacks will keep an eye on this season.
Only time will tell what this team becomes, but this much we know for sure; the returning veterans are hell bent on writing the final chapter of their destiny and bringing more then just a Lambert Trophy to West Chester, but a Division II National Championship as well.