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Day Nine: Things Are Heating Up

August 16, 2009

    At one point during Friday’s practice, West Liberty University head coach Roger Waialae had felt the need to remind his team that they were only two weeks away from a season opener against a nationally-ranked Edinboro team. The fifth-year head man made it clear he wanted his Hilltoppers to bring the same intensity to each practice session they would bring to a game.

    Less than 24 hours later, it was apparent that Waialae’s words had not fallen on deaf ears.

    On one of the hottest days of the summer, his team butted heads for more than five hours on the Russek Field MondoTurf in the best double session of the preseason.willie and moon

    The chain gang was back on duty when the players reported to the field in full pads at 9 a.m. for what turned into a virtual mini-scrimmage. Adding to the game-like atmosphere – and putting a smile on the coaches’ faces – was the chant of “Defense” rising from the defensive reserves along the sidelines.

    It certainly was a defensive show at the start as veteran defensive back Moon Robinson short-circuited the opening possession with an interception.

     As the sun climbed higher in the eastern sky, it didn’t take long before tempers began to rise along with the mercury. The most noticeable example came when All-America linebacker Clay Beeler and offensive lineman Ben Davis had to be pulled apart when they locked horns in a shoving match. The defense won the second possession, as well, when returning outside safety Jayson Keyser batted away a third-down pass intended for All-WVIAC running back/wide receiver Eddie Hills.

    The offense put it all together on the next possession with a nice mix of run and pass on a 75-yard scoring march. Quarterback Zach Amedro started things off with an 11-yard scramble to convert a 3rd-and-9. Amedro then moved the ball across midfield with a 20-yard toss to Ryan Travis and a 10-yard pass to Kevon Calhoun. A first-down pass to Willie Walker followed by two strong runs from Calhoun set up 1st-and-goal at the 3. Amedro hit Walker for the touchdown.

    The junior signalcaller led another long drive on the next possession. Jimmy Burress ripped off a 30-yard run before passes to Travis, Walker and Alex Matviko set up a scoring opportunity. The defense dug in and kept the offense off the scoreboard when a 38-yard field goal try clanged off the upright.

    When the team returned to the field in “tops” for the afternoon session, it was the offense’s turn to shine.

    Amedro, who is closing in on nearly every Hilltopper passing record in the book after just two seasons, turned in what Waialae termed his best performance of camp. Amedro and Walker are emerging as quite a tandem with Walker seeming to turn in at least one spectacular catch every day and Amedro showing an increasing confidence in the rangy junior wideout.

    Walker had two more TD grabs during the full-team session and hauled in a 70-yard bomb from strong-armed freshman Chris Kiedaisch during 7-on-7. Amedro also showed off his arm strength with a 70-yard strike to Calhoun coming out of the backfield down the hash.

    Following the afternoon session, Waialae said he thought the defensive line had shown significant improvement since the beginning of camp. He also complimented Robinson for his consistency and leadership in the defensive backfield.

    In the photo above, Walker turns upfield after pulling in a pass from Amedro as Moon Robinson closes in along the right sideline.

    The team will get a bit of a break on Sunday with just one on-field workout, setting the stage for another double session on Monday.

    Today’s photo album is provided by Sports Information Director Matt Watson. To access the photos, click on the following link: Training Camp Photos: Day 9

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