“Our offense is ready to go. We’re going to comeback again and get them,” Brent Steinmetz said following West Chester’s 30-29 opening round victory over Bryant. ‘Them’ of course is referring to the PSAC East Champion Bloomsburg Huskies. There’s no doubting the Golden Rams confidence going into this pivotal rematch. When these teams last met on October 7, Bloomsburg played three dominant quarters of football and held on for a 30-27 victory. The game represented a crossroads for the Golden Rams. West Chester fell to 3-3 on the season, and 3-2 in the conference. This club could either fall victim to false pretense that they could not compete in a tough PSAC East, or begin to believe in their talent and take each game as if it were a playoff game. They have not lost since a failed onside kick attempt to end the game that afternoon.
Since the Bloomsburg game the Golden Rams have rattled off six consecutive wins and are among the hottest teams in Division II football. Mike Washington has since eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight year, and Bill Zwaan Jr., has rated amongst the top quarterbacks in Division II Football.
To say the Rams have been clicking on all cylinders would be a vast understatement. West Chester has also been the beneficiary of some great luck (escaping Slippery Rock, IUP beating Cal) and some misfortune (season ending injuries to Chris Tagye, Mark Maynard, and losing Osagie Osunde for an extended period). Good teams battle through the adversity, great teams are defined by their depth and find ways to win regardless of the hand they are dealt. West Chester is quickly becoming a great team.
It is fitting, however, that the Bloomsburg Huskies, the class of the PSAC the past two years, stand in West Chester’s way of a regional title game. Perhaps one last showdown against Jamar Brittingham is in the cards. One final attempt to overcome the pressure of Coach Danny Hale’s stifling defense. One final chance to send the overzealous student section on a cold, disappointing walk back to the dorms. And most importantly, the opportunity to avenge two consecutive losses.
Are the Golden Rams equipped to defeat the Huskies? Absolutely. It will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. In order for West Chester to enjoy a relaxing bus ride home from Central Pennsylvania they will need to accomplish several things. First and foremost, it is essential to play four full quarters of football. Secondly the secondary needs to bring it’s ‘A’ game. The Golden Rams cannot afford to surrender three touchdowns through the air, and commit costly, dare I say stupid pass interference penalties, because unlike Bryant, Bloomsburg actually has a defense capable of containing the Golden Ram offense. Perhaps most importantly West Chester needs to play their game, and not let a few bumps in the road alter the gameplan.
Accomplish all this and the Golden Rams will find themselves three wins shy of this school’s first Division II National Championship.
Matt Lombardo hosts a weekly sports talk radio show on 91.7 FM WCUR on Saturday’s from 12:00-2:00 and it is simulcast worldwide at www.wcur.fm