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Putting Walsh in the Rear-View Mirror

September 9, 2009

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Roger Waialae was generally pleased with West Liberty’s 48-17 dismantling of Walsh on Saturday but the Hilltopper head coach plans to make one aspect of the game a priority in practice this week.

      “We have to do a better job on special teams or it’s going to jump up and bite us one of these days,” Waialae said on Tuesday morning. “That’s pretty much all we’ve talked about since the game ended.” Kashif_catch

      West Liberty was never in any danger against the outmanned Cavaliers. The Hilltoppers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and had put the game on ice long before taking a 41-3 lead into the halftime locker room.

      Even so, Waialae was less than pleased by the struggles of West Liberty’s kickoff coverage unit.

      The news wasn’t all bad. The Hilltoppers recovered an onside kick and Walsh opted to fall on a squib kick at its own 19.

      But the visitors averaged more than 37 yards a return on West Liberty’s other four first-half kickoffs. The Cavaliers’ average starting position on those four possessions was the Hilltopper 47.

      “I don’t think our defense got enough credit for how well they played on Saturday,” Waialae said. “We basically lost the battle of field position due to our special teams and the defense did a great job of bailing us out despite the short field.

      “The punt team is doing a good job. We need the kick and kick return teams to step up before Lake Erie comes in here this week.”

      While the kickoff coverage unit had its problems, the Hilltopper offense continued to purr on all cylinders.

      Quarterback Zach Amedro completed 25-of-36 passes for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns.

      Wide receiver Kashif Walls caught 7 balls for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns while fellow WR Ryan Travis had 4 catches for 78 yards – including a pair of TD grabs – and threw a 38-yard scoring strike to Walls.

      Junior TB Kevon Calhoun posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game with 103 yards and touchdowns on just 15 carries while senior All-WVIAC WR/RB Eddie Hills had another well-rounded performance.

      Hills had 7 catches for 86 yards and added 20 more yards on 5 carries from the tailback spot.

      After two games, Hills leads the team with 14 receptions for 162 yards, has 33 rushing yards on just 8 carries and leads the team with 41 kick return yards on 2 returns.

      “I think Eddie’s playing the best football of his career,” Waialae said. “He hasn’t been in the end zone yet but he draws so much attention, it opens things up for everybody else.”

      The Hilltoppers reported no new injury concerns coming out of the Walsh game.

      Walls and Travis had each been limited by injuries during the week but showed no ill effects during the game.

      Offensive tackle Will Alvarez missed the Walsh game with a leg injury that was expected to keep him out for two more weeks.

      The 6-5, 320-pound junior showed considerable improvement over the weekend. He’s still listed as “doubtful” but could be ready to go by Saturday if his condition continues to improve.

      “We’re not going to rush Will,” Waialae said. “We have more depth on the offensive line than we’ve had in a long time. It will probably be a game-time decision.”

      Saturday’s game has been designated as the 14th annual Alumni Scholarship Bowl, hosted by the West Liberty University Alumni Association.

      A pre-game tailgate party begins at 11 a.m. in the parking lot adjacent to Russek Field. The party features food, games, giveaways and other family activities – including a special musical performance by Jeff Tappe of Smoke Daddy and the Crawfish.

      The five newest members of the West Liberty Athletic Hall of Fame –  E.J. Burt and Greg Dailer (football), Ashlea Bland and Kelly West (women’s basketball) and Brian Edison (wrestling) – will receive their commemorative plaques and be introduced to the crowd at halftime.

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