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They’re All Big Games Now for No. 18 Hilltoppers

October 23, 2009
West Liberty quarterback Zach Amedro has thrown for nearly 500 yards and 4 touchdowns in beating Charleston each of the past two seasons.

West Liberty quarterback Zach Amedro has thrown for nearly 500 yards and 4 touchdowns in beating Charleston each of the past two seasons.

 Saturday’s game between unbeaten Charleston and streaking West Liberty shapes up as one of the biggest games in West Virginia Conference history but big games are nothing new for this year’s Hilltopper team.

      Thanks to a 7-game winning streak – the school’s longest in three decades – every game has now become a “big” game for West Liberty as the Hilltoppers head to Laidley Field for Saturday’s 2 p.m. kickoff. Admission is free to all fans thanks to a corporate sponsor.

      “Sure, it’s a big game,” Coach Roger Waialae said. “Our kids aren’t dumb. They read the papers and watch TV. They know what’s at stake.”

      Nothing will be set in stone this weekend as both teams have two conference games remaining after this one. Even so, this week’s winner will definitely be on the fast track to a conference title and NCAA Division II playoff bid.

      Neither team had ever appeared in the NCAA Division II Top 25 before this season but both now boast the highest rankings in school history. No. 10 Charleston (8-0, 5-0) is No. 2 in regional rankings while No. 18 West Liberty (7-1, 5-0) checked in at No. 5 this week. Only six teams from each region qualify for post-season play

      “I’m not sure we can afford another loss and still reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves,” Waialae said. “As long as we keep winning, the games just keep getting bigger every week.”

      It’s a classic matchup between a pair of prolific offenses led by two of the premier junior quarterbacks in the nation who go about their tasks in very different ways. West Liberty leads the nation in total offense and is No. 2 in passing offense. Charleston leads the nation in passing efficiency and is No. 3 in rushing offense.

      The Hilltoppers’ Zach Amedro is the only NCAA Division II quarterback to have thrown for 300 or more yards in every one of his team’s games this season. The three-year starter already owns most of West Liberty’s career passing records and holds down several spots among the national leaders this season. Amedro – who has completed 46 passes of 20 yards or more over the first eight games – leads the nation with 29 TD passes, ranks No. 2 in passing yards (370.5 ypg.) and No. 3 in total offense (368.1 ypg.)

      The veteran signalcaller has plenty of help. Wide receiver Kashif Walls has caught a touchdown pass of at least 25 yards in every game he’s played. Fellow WRs Ryan Travis (59-736-10TDs) and Eddie Hills (56-610-3TDs) are in the Top 10 nationally in catches per game. On the ground, tailback Kevon Calhoun is averaging more than 7 yards a carry and ranks among the top 10 rushers in the nation. He needs just 11 yards Saturday to hit 1,000 for the season.

      “We have to have both (rushing and passing), “Waialae said. “Charleston’s made great strides in their passing defense and they’re still great against the run. We have to keep them guessing.”

      The Golden Eagles DaRante Hunter is equally dangerous through the air or on the ground in Coach Tony DeMeo’s “triple-gun” option attack. Hunter has thrown for 1,317 yards and 14 TDs but he’s also run for 692 yards and a WVIAC-best 16 rushing TDs. His quarterback efficiency rating of 213.6 is No. 1 nationally. The big play is a big part of his arsenal, as well. The diminutive QB (5-9, 175) is averaging almost 20 yards per completion and has hooked up with 9 different receivers on plays of 20 yards or longer.

      “Coach DeMeo has done a tremendous job with that program,” Waialae said. “He and his players have certainly earned our respect. Hunter is a really special player who’s a great fit for that offense. He makes great decisions and is an outstanding runner but I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for how well he throws the ball.”

      The West Liberty defense has been making strides every week since being torched for 42 points in a season-opening loss at No. 23 Edinboro but will be facing their toughest test of the season this week against a Charleston team that averages more than 40 points and nearly 300 rushing yards a game.

      “This is the fifth time Coach DeMeo and I have played each other,” Waialae said, “and we both know what we’re going to see. Like any other game, it all comes down to execution and taking care of the football.”

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Been There, Done That is Mindset for No. 18 West Liberty

October 20, 2009

After more than two decades of playing and coaching at the collegiate level, West Liberty University head coach Roger Waialae knows there’s no substitute for experience on the football field.

mcgee tfl

West Liberty defensive tackle Joey McGee (70) drops Shepherd tailback Tommy Addison (23) for a 2-yard loss during Saturday’s game in Shepherdstown. McGee’s 9 solo tackles against the Rams was the highest total for a Hilltopper defensive lineman in this decade.

Waialae’s Hilltoppers (7-1, 5-0) rose to No. 18 in the nation this week after rallying from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit on Saturday to edge Shepherd, 31-30 in a battle of regionally-ranked foes.

West Liberty trailed by two touchdowns on three separate occasions on a miserably cold and wet Saturday at Ram Stadium but even though the Hilltoppers were on the road, Waialae said his team was on familiar turf.

“A lot of our kids played significant roles for us a year ago when we came on strong down the stretch,” Waialae said. “It all started when we were down 28-7 against Shepherd in the first half at our place. We got the ship righted at halftime and came back to win and then followed that up by beating Charleston and Seton Hill.

“The thing I was most proud about on Saturday was the character and heart we showed. We didn’t play our best offensive game and we made some mistakes on defense. Shepherd had a lot to do with that but nobody panicked and we were able to make the plays we needed to make in the fourth quarter to beat a very good football team.”

It was another big day for quarterback Zach Amedro and the West Liberty offense. The Hilltoppers rolled up 505 yards of total offense with Amedro completing 30-of-52 passes for a season-high 427 yards and 2 TDs. Wide receiver Kashif Walls had 9 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown while tailback Kevon Calhoun kept the Rams honest by breaking off touchdown runs of 23 and 25 yards.

West Liberty continues to lead the nation in total offense (538.8 ypg.) and passing touchdowns (31), ranks No. 2 in passing offense (381.1 ypg.) and No. 3 in scoring (42.0 ppg.). Individually, Amedro leads the nation with 29 TD passes while ranking No. 2 in passing (370.5 ypg.) and No. 3 in total offense (368.1 ypg.). Walls is No. 2 nationally in receiving yards (121.6 ypg.) and touchdown catches (13). Calhoun is 6th in rushing TDs (12) and 8th in rushing yards (123.6 ypg.). Ryan Travis (59 catches) and Eddie Hills (56 catches) are Nos. 9 and 10, respectively, in pass receptions.

But Waialae says the defense has played just as big a role as the offense in the Hilltoppers’ emergence as a factor on the regional and national stage.

“I think our defense has been overlooked for the past 5 years,”  Waialae said. “It’s a total team philosophy. Our offense believes in our defense and vice versa. We put our defense in a hole with some special-teams breakdowns Saturday but they were able to overcome that.

“We had a lot of kids play well but Joey McGee had one of the best games I’ve ever seen a defensive lineman have since I came to West Liberty. He did a great job of working off his blocks and making big play after big play. If you’re going to be successful over the long haul at this level, you need different guys to step up for you week in and week out and we’ve been getting that from a lot of people.”

McGee’s numbers were certainly impressive. The 6-4, 265-pound senior defensive tackle from Columbus, Ohio was charted with 9 solo tackles and an assist to go along with 2 tackles-for-loss and a quarterback sack. His 9 solo tackles are the most by a Hilltopper defensive lineman in this decade.

West Liberty had little time to bask in the glow of the Shepherd victory as the Hilltoppers go back on the road this weekend to square off against No. 10 Charleston (8-0, 5-0) in a battle for first place in the WVIAC. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Laidley Field with free admission to all fans.

“I’d probably be a little more worried about going right from Shepherd to Charleston if I didn’t have an experienced team,” Waialae said. “After losing our opener, we knew the only way to give ourselves the opportunity to play in a big game like this was to take care of business every week and we’ve done that. This is a big game but we won’t approach it any differently. When you set your goals as high as we set them here, every game is a big game.”

West Liberty Jumps to No. 18 in Division II Poll

October 20, 2009

WACO, Texas – The West Liberty University football team has ridden a 7-game winning streak to the highest national ranking in school history.

willie turns upfield

West Liberty wide receiver Willie Walker (5) turns upfield after making a catch as Shepherd All-American Deante Steele (28) closes in during Saturday’s game at Shepherdstown. Walker had 8 catches for 89 yards as the No. 18 Hilltoppers rallied past Shepherd, 31-30, for their seventh straight win.

Fresh off a thrilling 31-30 victory at regionally-ranked Shepherd on Saturday, Coach Roger Waialae’s Hilltoppers moved up to No. 18 in this week’s NCAA Division II Top 25.

The come-from-behind win also helped West Liberty (7-1, 5-0) continue its rise in the NCAA Division II Region One (Northeast) rankings.

The Hilltoppers are No. 5 in this week’s Region One ratings, up two spots from last week’s No. 7 ranking.

Shepherd, which had been receiving votes in the Top 25 poll and was ranked No. 9 in the region coming into last week’s showdown, dropped out of the regional rankings.

The regional rankings are used to determine the six NCAA Division II playoff participants from the Northeast Region at the end of the regular season.

“That was a very good win for our football team against a quality program,”  Waialae said. “We said after we lost our opener to (No. 23) Edinboro that we needed to approach each week as a playoff game and if we kept winning, the rankings would take care of themselves.

“We’re starting to see that play out now so there’s no reason to change anything. We have another tremendous challenge this weekend and that’s the only game we’re focusing on.”

There was a change at the top of the national poll for the second straight week as North Alabama (8-0), coached by Terry Bowden, is the new No. 1 team after receiving all 25 first-place votes. Last week’s No. 1 team, Abilene Christian, tumbled all the way to No. 9 after being shocked, 32-21, by unranked West Texas A&M.

As Waialae noted, West Liberty travels to No. 10 Charleston (8-0, 5-0) on Saturday for what shapes up as the game of the year in the West Virginia Conference.

The Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles are the only two WVIAC teams without a conference loss and Charleston is ranked No. 2 in the region. That means Saturday’s winner will have the inside track to a league championship and NCAA Division II playoff berth.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Laidley Field in Charleston.

American Football Coaches Association

NCAA Division II Poll

(Oct. 19, 2009)

School W-L Pts LW

1. North Alabama (25) 8-0 625 2

2. Central Washington 8-0 592 3

3. Bloomsburg (Pa.) 8-0 567 4

4. NW Missouri State 7-1 544 5

5. Minnesota St.-Mankato 8-0 525 6

6. Grand Valley State, Mich.  7-1 492 9

7. Minnesota-Duluth 7-1 475 9

8. Albany State (Ga.) 7-0 427 10

9. Abilene Christian  7-1 425 1

10. CHARLESTON 8-0 411 11

11. Tarleton State, Texas 7-1 368 13

12. Missouri Western 7-1 348 15

13. Nebraska-Kearney 7-1 315 16

14. Texas A&M-Kingsville 7-1 274 7

15. UNC-Pembroke 6-1 240 17

16. Washburn, Kan. 6-2 207 20

17. Midwestern State, Texas 6-2 193 22

18. WEST LIBERTY 7-1 151 21

19. Tuskegee, Ala. 5-2 143 19

20. Carson-Newman, Tenn. 6-2 118 25

21. Central Missouri 6-2 117 14

22. Wayne State, Neb. 6-2 109 24

23. Edinboro (Pa.) 6-2 99 12

24. California (Pa.) 6-2 97 NR

25. Hillsdale, Mich. 6-2 72 NR

Also receiving votes: Findlay, Ohio 43; Saginaw Valley State, Mich. 36; Angelo State, Texas 33; Bentley, Mass. 28; Wayne State, Mich. 20; Colorado School of Mines 9; Shippensburg, Pa. 8; Northern Michigan 6; Bowie State, Md. 3; Shaw, N.C. 2; Wingate, N.C. 2; Valdosta State, Ga. 1

NCAA Division II

Super Region One Rankings

(October 19, 2009)

All Reg.

Team W-L W-L

1. Bloomsburg, Pa. 8-0 8-0

2. Charleston 8-0 8-0

3. California, Pa. 6-2 6-2

4. Bentley, Mass. 7-1 6-1

5. WEST LIBERTY 7-1 6-1

6. Shippensburg, Pa. 6-2 6-2

7. Edinboro, Pa. 6-2 6-2

8. East Stroudsburg, Pa. 6-2 6-2

9. Bowie State, Md. 6-2 6-2

10. Shaw, N.C. 6-2 6-2

No. 21 West Liberty Rallies Past Shepherd

October 18, 2009

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. – No. 21 West Liberty stormed back from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter here Saturday to beat Shepherd, 31-30, in a West Virginia Conference battle of regionally-ranked foes at Ram Stadium.

Quarterback Zach Amedro torched the Shepherd secondary for a season-high 427 yards through the air while wide receiver Kashif Walls surpassed the 200-yard receiving mark and the Hilltoppers (7-1, 5-0) came up with several clutch defensive stands down the stretch to post their seventh straight win.

West Liberty tailback Kevon Calhoun (34) outraces Shepherd defensive back Deante Steele (28) to the end zone on a 25-yard scoring run during the third quarter of Saturday's West Virginia Conference game at Ram Stadium in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

West Liberty tailback Kevon Calhoun (34) outraces Shepherd defensive back Deante Steele (28) to the end zone on a 25-yard scoring run during the third quarter of Saturday's West Virginia Conference game at Ram Stadium in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

West Liberty battled poor field position and trailed for much of the game against a Shepherd (5-3, 4-2) team that had won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two schools.

Ram All-American return specialist Deante Steele had restored the hosts’ 13-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter when he answered Kevon Calhoun’s 25-yard TD run by returning the kickoff 86 yards to paydirt to put the Hilltoppers in a 30-17 hole.

But Amedro found Walls behind the Shepherd secondary for a 32-yard scoring toss in the opening minute of the fourth quarter and the West Liberty defense dug in its heels.

Derek Evans short-circuited the ensuing Ram possession with his WVIAC-leading 6th interception of the season.

Amedro marched the visitors back down the field only to see Shepherd’s Layton Hersh come up with his second interception of the day to snuff the Hilltopper drive inside the Ram 5.

With time becoming a factor, the West Liberty defense delivered a 3-and-out and a short punt gave the Hilltoppers the ball at the Shepherd 29.

Six plays later, Amedro rolled to his left and threaded the needle to Ryan Travis for a 6-yard scoring play. Mike Blewett’s PAT gave West Liberty a 31-30 lead with 5:13 remaining.

After the Hilltopper defense delivered another 3-and-out, Amedro and Walls just missed connections on a 33-yard pass into the end zone and Blewett came on to punt the ball out of bounds at the hosts’ 15 with 2:48 remaining.

Clancy drove the Rams across midfield but just as Shepherd was drawing into field goal range, All-America linebacker Clay Beeler came up with a game-saving interception at the West Liberty 36 with just 1:40 to go and the Hilltoppers ran out the clock.

Amedro’s big day – he completed 30-of-55 passes for 427 yards and 2 TDs – moved him into fourth place all-time in the WVIAC in passing yards (8,694) and touchdown passes (68) while boosting him into fifth place in total offense (8,526).

Walls has caught at least one TD pass of 25 yards or longer in every game he’s played this season. Saturday’s 9-catch, 204-yard performance gives him 851 yards and 13 TDs on the year.

Calhoun was held under the 100-yard mark for only the second time all season but still ran for 87 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries, leaving him just 11 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

Clancy completed 12-of-28 passes for 181 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions for Shepherd. Tommy Addison ran for 111 yards on 24 carries in a losing cause while Neal Hardie had 4 catches for 118 yards.

West Liberty came into Saturday’s game ranked No. 7 in the Northeast Region. Beating the Rams, who were ranked No. 9 regionally, set up what will likely be billed as the WVIAC game of the year next weekend.

The Hilltoppers will go back on the road to battle No. 11-ranked Charleston (8-0, 6-0) with first place in the WVIAC standings and the inside track to a playoff berth on the line. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Laidley Field.

West Liberty 31, Shepherd 30

West Liberty 3   7   7 14 – 31

Shepherd 0 16 14   0 – 30

First Quarter

WLU: FG Blewett 23, 10:43

Second Quarter

SU: Muhammad 26 pass from Clancy (Dobratz kick), 13:23

SU: Hardie 33 pass from Clancy (Dobratz kick), 7:25

SU: Safety, punt snap out of end zone, 5:19

WLU: Calhoun 23 run (Blewett kick), 1:10

Third Quarter

SU: Addison 4 run (Dobratz kick), 8:58

WLU: Calhoun 25 run (Blewett kick), 3:04

SU: Steele 86 kickoff return (Dobratz kick), 2:46

Fourth Quarter

WLU: Walls 32 pass from Amedro (Blewett kick), 14:41

WLU: Travis 6 pass from Amedro (Blewett kick), 5:14

A: 1,864

Game Statistics

RUSHING: West Liberty 27-78, Calhoun 16-87, Hills 2-6, Travis 1-0, Amedro 4-(-3), Team 4-(-12). Shepherd 38-148, Addison 24-111, Hoyte 10-47, Muhammad 1-1, Clancy 3-(-11).

PASSING: West Liberty 30-55-427-2td-2x (all by Amedro). Shepherd 12-29-181-2td-2x (all by Clancy)

RECEIVING: West Liberty 30-427, Walls 9-204, Walker 8-87, Travis 6-59, Calhoun 4-37, Hills 3-40. Shepherd 12-181, Hardie 4-118, Muhammad 4-47, Lowe 2-23, Addison 1-(-3), Fry 1-(-4).

First downs: West Liberty 23, Shepherd 14

Fumbles: West Liberty 0-0, Shepherd 0-0

Penalties: West Liberty 7-54, Shepherd 5-41

Time of Possession: West Liberty 31:39, Shepherd 28:21

HILLTOPPERS ‘STREAK’ INTO NATIONAL RANKINGS

October 13, 2009

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The West Liberty University football team certainly knows how to put on a show for Homecoming.

                Coach Roger Waialae’s high-powered offense was clicking on all cylinders Saturday as West Liberty rode its longest winning streak in three decades all the way to the Hilltoppers’ first national Top 25 ranking of the NCAA Division II era.

                The 52-30 romp past West Virginia State before a raucous crowd of alumni, friends and family was the sixth straight win for West Liberty (6-1, 4-0).

                That’s the Hilltoppers’ longest winning streak since the 1979 squad reeled off seven straight wins en route to a WVIAC championship.

travis td

West Liberty wide receiver Ryan Travis pulls in his third touchdown catch of the day during Saturday’s 52-30 victory against West Virginia State. Travis had 8 catches for 100 yards and 3 scores on the afternoon.

                Saturday’s victory also vaulted West Liberty into the No. 21 spot in this week’s NCAA Division II coaches’ poll. It’s the first time the Hilltoppers have been nationally ranked since making the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II affiliation in the mid-1990s.

                West Liberty also moved up to the No. 7 spot in the weekly NCAA Division II Super Region I rankings. That’s the highest regional ranking in school history, which is fairly significant. The regional rankings determine the region’s six playoff entries at the end of the season.

                “The rankings bring a lot of good publicity to the university and the program,” Waialae said, “but they don’t affect anything we do on or off the field. We only worry about the things we control. We can control the way we prepare for every game and we can control the way we play each Saturday.

                “If we keep winning, the rankings will take care of themselves when it’s all said and done.”

                The West Virginia State defense came into the game ranked among the top 10 nationally against the pass but the Yellow Jackets were no match for Hilltopper QB Zach Amedro and his talented corps of wide receivers. The hosts piled up 52 points and 547 yards of total offense to take over the No. 1 spot nationally in both categories.

                Amedro completed 26-of-33 passes for 337 yards and 5 TDs. It was the seventh straight 300-yard passing performance for the junior standout, who broke his own school single-season record – and took over the national lead – with his 27th touchdown pass of the year. He also ranks No. 2 nationally in passing yards (362.4) and No. 3 in total offense (360.1).

                Ryan Travis had 8 catches for 100 yards and 3 TDs while Eddie Hills also caught 8 passes for 85 yards. Kashif Walls had 3 catches for 68 yards, including his 11th and 12th TD grabs of the year.

                Kevon Calhoun kept the West Liberty rushing game in high gear. The junior tailback ran for 157 yards and 2 TDs on just 14 carries while adding 35 more yards on 3 pass receptions. He now ranks No. 6 nationally in rushing (128.9) and is No. 2 in the nation in yards per carry (7.27).

                “When I see numbers like that, it tells me our offense is doing a lot of things well,” Waialae said. “Some players wind up receiving individual accolades but that just shows everybody is doing their part. The only thing we’re focusing on in practice is getting everyone as healthy as possible and doing what we do best every time we take the field.”

                The Hilltoppers take their six-game win streak on the road Saturday for a crucial WVIAC showdown against Shepherd (5-2, 4-1), which is ranked No. 9 in the region and is also receiving votes in the national Top 25. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Ram Stadium in Shepherdstown.

                “At this point of the season, any loss will knock you out of the top 10 in the region,” Waialae said, “so the most important game on the schedule is always your next game. Shepherd really seems to be hitting their stride now and they’re always tough at home so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Amedro Wins 3rd WVIAC Player of the Week Award

October 13, 2009

 PRINCETON, W.Va. – West Liberty University quarterback Zach Amedro has been named West Virginia Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season after leading the No. 21-ranked Hilltoppers to a 52-30 Homecoming win against West Virginia State on Saturday afternoon.

      Amedro, a 6-0, 190-pound junior from Moundsville, W.Va., completed 26-of-33 passes for 337 yards and 5 touchdowns as West Liberty (6-1, 4-0) rolled to its sixth consecutive victory. That’s the longest winning streak for the Hilltoppers since the 1979 team won seven straight en route to a WVIAC title.amedro_points

      It’s the fifth straight week that a West Liberty player has won or shared the league’s Offensive Player of the Week Award. Wide receivers Kashif Walls and Willie Walker have each been honored once to go along with Amedro’s three selections.

      “We have a lot of weapons,” West Liberty coach Roger Waialae said, “and they all work together to make each other better. Zach does a great job of recognizing what the defense is giving us and getting the ball where it needs to go.”

      Amedro, who went over the 8,000-yard career mark and broke his own school single-season record with his 27th TD pass on Saturday, is the fourth West Liberty player to win three WVIAC awards in the same season since 1975. Quarterback Tim Hicks (2000) and running back Derrick Stickles (2005) were three-time Offensive Player of the Week honorees while kicker Billy Hager was a three-time Special Teams Player of the Week in 2006.

      The league single-season record is held by former Shepherd running back Dervon Wallace, who was a five-time Offensive Player of the Week in 2007.

      Amedro shared this week’s Offensive Player of the Week Award with Seton Hill quarterback D.J. Lenehan. Glenville State linebacker Kaleb Lawrence was the WVIAC Defensive Player of the Week while Glenville kick returner Xavier Glenn was the Special Teams honoree.

      West Liberty takes its six-game win streak to perennial WVIAC power Shepherd (5-2, 3-1) on Saturday. The game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Ram Stadium.

Hilltoppers Crack NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll

October 13, 2009

WACO, Texas – The West Liberty University football team made a little history Monday when the high-powered Hilltoppers appeared in the NCAA Division II Top 25 football poll for the first time.

      Coming off a 52-30 thrashing of West Virginia State on Saturday, West Liberty checked in at No. 21 when the national rankings were released this afternoon by the American Football Coaches Association.

West Liberty tailback Kevon Calhoun (34) weaves his way through traffic for a first down during Saturday’s 52-30 victory against West Virginia State. Calhoun rushed for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 carries as the Hilltoppers took over the national scoring lead.

West Liberty tailback Kevon Calhoun (34) weaves his way through traffic for a first down during Saturday’s 52-30 victory against West Virginia State. Calhoun rushed for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 carries as the Hilltoppers took over the national scoring lead.

      It’s the first time Coach Roger Waialae’s Hilltoppers have been ranked nationally since the West Virginia Conference achieved NCAA Division II status during the mid-1990s.

      “It’s always good to make it into the national rankings because of the positive recognition it brings to the university and our program,” Waialae said. “It doesn’t carry any weight as far as postseason play but I think it does show we’re starting to get some recognition in and out of the region and that’s a good thing.”

      West Liberty (6-1, 4-0) had just missed the Top 25 a week ago when the Hilltoppers received 23 votes in the weekly balloting.

      But West Liberty jumped up to 93 votes this week after taking over the national scoring lead (43.6 ppg.) with Saturday’s 52-point outburst against the Yellow Jackets and made the Top 25 with ease.

      The University of Charleston (7-0, 5-0) is the only other WVIAC team in the rankings. The Golden Eagles remained at No. 11 this week after outlasting Seton Hill, 59-43.

      Shepherd (5-2, 4-1) made its first appearance of the season among teams also receiving votes. The Rams, who hammered West Virginia Wesleyan by a 45-6 score on Saturday night, earned 2 votes in this week’s balloting.

      There was a change at the top of the poll as Grand Valley State (Mich.), which had been ranked No. 1 since the preseason, fell all the way to No. 8 after being upset, 27-24, by unranked Hillsdale (Mich.) on Saturday. Abilene Christian (7-0) received 23 of the 25 first-place votes to take over the No. 1 spot.

      West Liberty takes its national ranking and a 6-game winning streak on the road this weekend when the Hilltoppers visit Shepherd for a game which now carries significant implications on the conference, regional and national levels. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Ram Stadium. 

American Football Coaches Association

NCAA Division II Poll

(Oct. 12, 2009)

School W-L Pts LW

  1. Abilene Christian (23) 7-0 621 2

  2. North Alabama (2) 7-0 600 3

  3. Central Washington 7-0 570 4

  4. Bloomsburg (Pa.) 7-0 546 5

  5. NW Missouri State 6-1 521 6

  6. Minnesota St.-Mankato 7-0 492 7

  7. Texas A&M-Kingsville 7-0 450 9

  8. Grand Valley State  6-1 446 1

  9. Minnesota-Duluth 6-1 445 8

10. Albany State (Ga.) 6-0 401 10

11. CHARLESTON 7-0 362 11

12. Edinboro (Pa.) 6-1 334 13

13. Tarleton State, Texas 6-1 320 15

14. Central Missouri 6-1 303 16

15. Missouri Western 6-1 274 16

16. Nebraska-Kearney 6-1 249 21

17. UNC-Pembroke 6-1 157 25

18. Findlay 6-1 149 NR

19. Tuskegee, Ala. 5-2 127 24

20. Washburn, Kan. 5-2 113 12

21. WEST LIBERTY 6-1 93 NR

22. Midwestern State, Texas 5-2 91 18

23. Northern Michigan 5-1 76 NR

24. Wayne State, Neb. 5-2 68 14

25. Carson-Newman, Tenn. 5-2 57 NR

      Also receiving votes: Wingate, N.C. 54; California, Pa. 45; Angelo State, Texas 39; Hillsdale, Mich. 22; Bentley, Mass. 18; Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) 18; Nebraska-Omaha 15; Winona State, Minn. 12; Wayne State (Mich.) 10; Colorado School of Mines 8; Ouachita Baptist, Ark. 5; Bemidji State, Minn. 4; Delta State, Miss. 3; Shippensburg, Pa. 3; SHEPHERD 2; Ashland, Mich. 2.