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Expectations Have Changed at West Liberty

September 23, 2009

 WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – West Liberty University head football coach Roger Waialae cracked a rueful smile as he reviewed the stats from Saturday’s 49-26 rout of West Virginia Wesleyan.kashif_leaping_grab

      The Hilltoppers racked up 575 yards of total offense and had raced out to a 42-6 lead in the third quarter before Waialae called off the dogs but the fifth-year head coach was less than satisfied.

      “I don’t mean to be negative about a win but that’s the worst we’ve played all season on offense,” Waialae said. “I guess that just shows how much we’ve changed in terms of what we expect from ourselves as a coaching staff and as a team.

      “We came out really sluggish at the start. Once we turned it on, I thought we really got it going but great teams don’t try to turn the switch on and off. Great teams play hard on every down. That’s something we discussed.”

      West Liberty’s third straight win earned the Hilltoppers some votes in the coach’s Top 25 poll for the first time this season. With more than one-third of the season already in the books, West Liberty ranks at or near the top of the national charts in numerous team and individual categories.

      Junior tailback Calhoun took over the WVIAC rushing lead with his fourth straight 100-yard game. The junior tailback ranks among the top 10 nationally in rushing (133.25 ypg.) and scoring (12.0 ppg.) and leads all NCAA Division II backs with an average of 8.6 yards per carry.

      Junior quarterback Zach Amedro had his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing day. Amedro leads the nation with 15 touchdown passes and ranks No. 3 nationally in passing yards (356.75) and total offense (357.75) per game.

      The receivers also had a big day. Junior Kashif Walls was the WVIAC Player of the Week with 9 catches for 171 yards and 3 TDs. Walls leads the nation with 9 touchdown catches. He’s also No. 4 nationally in receiving yards (133.0 ypg.) and No. 5 in scoring (13.5 ppg.). Senior standout Eddie Hills also had a 100-yard receiving day with 9 catches for 106 yards while Ryan Travis added 5 grabs for 74 yards.

      The defense even got into the scoring act for the first time this season when Mike Kane grabbed a deflected pass and ran it back 55 yards for a touchdown during the Hilltoppers’ 21-point scoring blitz in the opening quarter.

      West Liberty ranks No. 9 among all NCAA Division II teams in turnover margin at plus-7. The Hilltoppers led the nation in turnover margin two years ago (plus-17) but finished on the wrong side of the ledger (minus-1) a year ago.

      “Our defensive philosophy is that we play for turnovers,” Waialae said. “We’ll take some chances so we do get burned on occasion but that’s a price we’re willing to pay.

      “With our offense, if we can force some turnovers and wind up with more possessions than the other team, that’s going to work to our advantage.”

      West Liberty returns to the friendly confines of Russek Field this weekend to host West Virginia Conference rival Fairmont State. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.

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