The Golden Ram football team opened the season as the favorites to win the PSAC East division. 2,973 Bill Zwaan Jr. passing yards, 12 Mike Washington touchdowns, 116 Lateef Ferguson tackles and nine regular season wins later, West Chester indeed emerged as division champions.2007 began for WCU in Edinboro on a picturesque afternoon where nearly everything went this club’s way. It ended on a brisk November afternoon at Farrell Stadium with a disheartening fourth quarter collapse against IUP in the opening round of the NCAA II playoffs.
The knee-jerk reaction is to judge a season by its ending, but then one would miss the game against Millersville that say this team score 21 points in under two minutes of time of possession. Then there was the thrilling 21-0 shutout victory at home against Kutztown when this team truly earned its stripes. And of course, the high water mark of the 2007 campaign, the dominating 44-28 homecoming victory against this team’s arch nemesis; The Bloomsburg Huskies.
History was made in 2007 as junior Mike Washington surpassed Kevin Ingram as the school’s all time leading receiver, and Lateef Ferguson became the all time leading tackler, breaking the mark previously held by Lee Woodall and Osagie Osunde etched his name in the school record book as the all time leading points scorer, and having scored the most touchdowns in a career.
While this group, headed by head coach Bill Zwaan’s first recruiting class which won the most games of any four year class in history, did not accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a regional or national championship, the future remains bright for the Golden Rams. The team’s latest running back committee is already on the roster, Washington returns and quarterback Joe Wright will make his comeback from ACL surgery next fall. Defensively, West Chester will return nine of the starters from its final defeat against IUP when the 2008 season kicks off.
Zwaan and his coaches will face a challenge with his offense next year. Although they retain Washington for one more year, they loose 15 of the 23 seniors on offense including six offensive lineman and three running backs.
The defense looses Ferguson and Mike Mignogno but retains a much improved defense who kept them in most games.
Their biggest loss might well be Zwaan Jr. not necessarily in terms of just production, but what is behind him on the depth chart. Joe Wright’s ACl is undoubtly the largest area of concern for Zwaan Sr. Wright has showed poise and ability behind the younger Zwaan, but fans from this area have seen full well what a serious knee injury can do to a quarterback.
However, even with obstacles, the talent level on this team is still among the best in the PSAC.
While some experts might overlook the Golden Rams when picking the division winner next season, this group has the talent in place to continue the unheralded run of success led by Zwaan and his coaching staff, not only next season but for years to come.
Matt Lombardo is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at ML606516@wcupa.edu