After advancing into the NCAA national tournament for the second time in the past two years, the West Chester University football team continued to build on the awards and accomplishments of the blossoming program in the home stretch of this season.
On the shoulders of nationally recognized quarterback Sean McCartney, the Golden Rams fell to host Concord University, 51- 36, in the Super Region semi-final. Although not the goal they set their sights for, the Rams can be proud in all of the achievements and accomplishments made this past season.
Against the no. 10 ranked Concord, West Chester put up an impressive 691 total yards of offense, led by the duel QB performance of McCartney and Andrew Derr. McCartney went 25-43, throwing for 341 yards with three touch down passes. Derr also stepped in nicely, showing Ram fans a glimpse of what to expect under center next year. Throwing for 87 yards on 5-11 passing with a touchdown was a nice lead up into the big shoes to fill for next year.
The Rams’ usual stars were on their game for the matchup with Concord, especially McCartney’s favorite target Tim Brown. Brown reeled in nine catches for a total of 216 yards. Brown caught a TD pass from both quarterbacks and dominated the defensive back system of Concord, an impressive end to his already incredible season.
Complementing Brown, seven other Golden Rams caught passes. Mike Doty caught seven passes and added a score for West Chester, while Eddie Elliot and Erick Brundidge added four apiece.
The passing game was strong, but the running game was equally as effective. Elliot exploded for 116 yards and a touch down on 21 carries, aided by Brandon Monk who carried the ball 15 times for a total of 122 yards. The dynamic duo finished their season on one of their most impressive bouts.
On defense, senior All-American Ronell Williams finished his collegiate career with an eight-tackle game. Williams, who has been a cornerstone in the Golden Rams’ defense for the past few years, will certainly be a missing piece in a young Golden Rams’ defense next year.
Corey Scott, a Golden Ram defensive back, finished just behind Williams with seven tackles. Scott had an impressive season himself since transferring to West Chester from Delaware State University this past season to play out his final year of eligibility.
William’s wingman in the line-backing core, Mike Labor, finished with six tackles in the game. Without the two outstanding players next year, West Chester will certainly be looking for others to fill the roles of defensive leaders and star players, which the two held for the past few seasons.
Despite the loss, the Golden Rams pieced together another strong and successful season, continuing to grow the name and respect of the West Chester football program. With a final record of 11-2 (8-1), the Golden Rams are beginning to claim the title as one of, if not the most, dominant football program in the PSAC.
Recently, West Chester was selected as the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) DII team of the year. The ECAC contains over 300 different schools ranging from Division I to Division III.
“It is a great honor and a nice reward for our entire program and especially for our senior class, which has worked tirelessly to maintain a high-level of excellence,” stated head Coach Bill Zwaan when asked about winning the presitgious award.
Along with the whole team earning this award, quarterback McCartney was selected as Co-ECAC Offensive P.O.Y. McCartney ranked among the tops in all major quarterback categories in Division II, while throwing for 42 touchdowns and over 3,700 yards. Four other players joined McCartney on the All-ECAC team, including Derek Schatz, Brown, Andrew Cohen and Al-Hajj Shabazz.
The awards did not stop there. McCartney continued to rack up numerous awards, along with more players from the Golden Rams being recognized. Nine Rams were selected to the Don Hansen FB Gazette All-Region team. McCartney finished fifth in Harlon Hill voting. Also, McCartney, Brown, Williams, and Shabazz were selected to the All Super Region 1 team.
The list of awards and recognition for the players and Coach Zwaan this postseason is as long as they come. It is great, but if the Golden Rams could trade it all for another chance at a national title, I’m sure they would.
A few historical seasons and careers ended when the Rams fell to Concord. A quarterback who has led one of the most successful Golden Ram teams in history will be gone, along with key players on both sides of the ball who have had career best seasons. Players like Williams and Shabazz are players that will forever be remembered in West Chester football history. Their mark the past two seasons has rejuvinated the Golden Ram football team back to being on of the best in the country.
Despite the loss of a few huge pieces, the success the Rams found came from hard work and heart, which this team is loaded with. Although it will take time, West Chester has shown their talent and will certainly continue to reach new heights in their achievements on the gridiron in the upcoming season.
On the shoulders of returners like Elliot, Monk, Derr and Cohen, the Rams will stop at nothing for more success. They are hungry for a championship, and have the heart to do it. As the offseason approaches, things will begin to fall in place. Who will take the pen from McCartney and write the next page in the history of West Chester football?
AJ Arcaini is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA788494@wcupa.edu