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High-Flying Hilltoppers Head to W.Va. Wesleyan

September 17, 2009

West Liberty University has dominated the football series against West Virginia Wesleyan in recent years and the Hilltoppers hope that trend continues on Saturday afternoon.

      Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Buckhannon.

      Head coach Roger Waialae is 4-0 against Wesleyan during his tenure with those four wins coming by an average score of 44-12.

      The Hilltoppers rolled to a 46-0 win at Russek Field a year ago and have hung 37 and 68 points on the Bobcats in their last two trips to Cebe Ross Field.

West Liberty wide receiver Ryan Travis (22) and offensive tackle Tim Ickes (71) celebrate in the end zone after Travis’s second TD catch in last week’s 62-28 romp against Lake Erie

West Liberty wide receiver Ryan Travis (22) and offensive tackle Tim Ickes (71) celebrate in the end zone after Travis’s second TD catch in last week’s 62-28 romp against Lake Erie

      But the winds of coaching change blew through Buckhannon over the winter and Waialae says first-year head coach Dennis Creehan has this Wesleyan team looking like a different breed of cat.

      “Coach Creehan may be new to Wesleyan,” Waialae said, “but he’s an extremely knowledgeable coach who has succeeded at every level from high school to the pros.

      “They’re a lot better football team. Both of their losses have gone right down to the wire so with a break or two they could be 2-0 instead of 0-2.”

      Neither team lacks for offensive firepower.

      West Liberty (2-1, 0-0) junior quarterback Zach Amedro leads the nation with 11 touchdown passes and paces a Hilltopper attack that ranks No. 2 nationally in passing offense, No. 3 in total offense and No. 5 in scoring offense.

      Tailback Kevon Calhoun has topped the 100-yard mark in all three games and ranks among the top 10 nationally in rushing yards and scoring. Wide receiver Kashif Walls ranks 10th nationally at 120.3 receiving yards per game and is one of three Hilltopper wideouts ranked among the top five in the West Virginia Conference.

      “I know it’s a cliché but the only stat that matters to me is the final score,” Waialae said. “The key for us is that our offense has been playing at a pretty high level. With the playmakers we have, the numbers are going to be there if we execute.”

      The host Bobcats (0-2, 0-10 are led by senior tailback Reggie Taylor. A versatile 5-7, 194-pounder, Taylor is the nation’s leading rusher, having run for an average of 158.5 yards a game in Wesleyan’s first two outings.

      “We know what Reggie Taylor can do,” Waialae said. “He ran for 100 yards against us last year and their quarterback (Zane Zebrasky) has a real strong arm. He’s a kid we tried to recruit coming out of high school. They have some weapons and they’re playing in their home opener so you know they’re going to be fired up.

      “We could see on tape that their kids have really bought into Coach Creehan’s system and are playing with great emotion and enthusiasm. We’re going to have to play well down there if we want to come back with a win.”

      The Hilltoppers return to the friendly confines of Russek Field next Saturday to host Fairmont State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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