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Day 16: Turn Out the Lights

August 22, 2009

   The song says all good things must end and that’s an excellent way to describe the final day of West Liberty University’s preseason camp Saturday afternoon at Russek Field.

   Head coach Roger Waialae and his staff pushed the team through an energetic 2 ½-hour session before giving them the rest of the weekend off. The Hilltoppers report back to Russek Field Monday afternoon after the first day of classes to begin Game Week preparation for next Saturday’s season-opener at nationally-ranked Edinboro (Pa.).walker-houghton

   The No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense each got a considerable amount of work in during the full-pads session with the coaches trying to simulate game speed and game conditions in various situations during the 45-minute team segment.

   Saturday’s practice opened with the inside run series at one end of the field while the quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs did 1-on-1 work at the opposite end. Tailbacks Kevon Calhoun and Jimmy Burress found some holes during inside run but the defense showed good pursuit and quickness to the point of attack. Cornerbacks Josh Madrid and Derrick Evans performed well in coverage during the 1-on-1s as did David Kampfe, who made the switch from wide receiver to cornerback near the end of camp. Freshman WR Vinnie Candelore continued to impress with his ball skills while veterans Eddie Hills and Willie Walker were outstanding.

   An extended 7-on-7 period followed with quarterback Zach Amedro finding Walker quickly for gains of 37 and 40 yards down each sideline. Cornerback Scott Houghton appeared to have Walker blanketed on both but the 6-5 wideout did a good job of attacking the ball at its highest point to make the receptions. On the whole, however, the defense acquitted itself quite well as those two catches stood as the offense’s only big plays for most of the session. Freshman quarterback Tyler Tucci, who has been taking several reps with the receivers, got loose for a 70-yard catch and run from fellow freshman signalcaller Ryley Wright toward the end of the session.

   The team segment opened with about 12 snaps in a goal-line series. The defense had 7 stops compared to 5 touchdowns for the offense. Calhoun ran for three scores between the tackles but lost the handle on a toss play when junior linebacker Mike Buffo appeared to strip the ball out as Calhoun was being driven to the turf. Amedro ran for one score on a bootleg left and Hills pulled in a touchdown pass while falling to the seat of his pants in the back of the end zone. Evans, Madrid and linebacker Clay Beeler all had pass break-ups for the defense.

   After the goal-line series, the ball was given back to the offense on its own 30. The defensive front continued its series of strong performances, maintaining consistent pressure on Amedro in the pocket and batting down several passes behind the line of scrimmage. Amedro did find Hills down the seam for a 70-yard score but that was the offense’s lone venture into the end zone. Walker and Ryan Travis each had multiple catches during this segment but the offense couldn’t sustain any drives.

   Sports Information Director Matt Watson snapped the photos and provided the wrapup from Saturday’s final preseason workout. To access his pictures, click on the following link: Training Camp Photos: Day 16.

   In the feature photo, junior wide receiver Willie Walker (5) prepares to pull in a long pass from quarterback Zach Amedro despite the best efforts of sophomore cornerback Scott Houghton (48).

   That’s a wrap for the Training Camp updates. Check back here after Monday’s practice for another addition to the Hilltopper Huddle.

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