Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Monday, October 03, 2005

Young Chargers Offer Hope!

Andy Brown
WCSR Play-by-Play
Special to

The Chargers lost to Northwood 49 to 20 Saturday afternoon.

I couldn't find anyone who really thought that Hillsdale was going to beat Northwood. After the drubbing that Northwood put on Hillsdale last season, and after the teams' starts to this season, the final score Saturday wasn't a big surprise. What may surprise you is that this game was closer than you think, and that this team may well be closer to winning than all of us thought.

Northwood led Hillsdale 21-0 with 6:46 to go in the first quarter, and I thought we might be in for another in a long line of Chargers blowouts at the hands of the upper echelon teams of the conference. However, for the second week in a row, the Chargers fought back--and showed that the gap may be closing. Hillsdale controled the second quarter, and made it 21-13 at halftime. Unfortunately, three blocked punts, including one that led directly to a touchdown, prevented the Chargers from making it even more interesting in the second half. But make no mistake about it; Northwood did not dominate Hillsdale in this game, and with a couple of breaks...who knows?

Suddenly, I see several reasons for hope. Mark Nicolet showed patience and poise in the pocket. He went 19 of 35 for 171 yards and touchdown, but more importantly, looked confident and willing to pick his spots and take chances downfield. In fact, Hillsdale actually attempted to stretch the field in the game. Speedy receivers Aaron Waldie, Nick Gurica, and Bill Brown put pressure on the Northwood secondary, with Recker and Clay working underneath. While Nicolet never actually hooked up on the long passes, at least they were trying.

Further reason for hope can be found in the Chargers defense which is battling every down and becoming fun to watch. While they certainly struggled in the first quarter against an excellent Northwood offense, they played much better the rest of the game. Hillsdale's defense under Craig Blanchard appears to be having fun playing the game. Andrew Daugherty is all over the field, and youngsters Tom Korte, Marcellus Wade, and Eric Weber bring plenty of juice to the attack. Don't forget that last season the Chargers were last in the conference in sacks. A year later, thanks to the return of Stephen Upchurch and Aaron Hoekje, along with the new guys, Hillsdale is among the leaders in sacks. This has taken pressure off the secondary, and given the defense a chance to get off the field. We aren't talking about murderers row here, but the defense has absolutely taken a step in the right direction.

I agree with Coach Otterbein that it will take one week of putting it all together and winning one of these games to really give the kids confidence going forward. Once the team believes it can beat the top tier teams, anything is possible. With two respectable performances against Saginaw and Northwood, I believe that it might happen sooner rather than later.

Looking Good: Mark Nicolet's confidence, Hillsdale's future.

Needs some Work: Punt Team!

Saturday the Chargers welcome Grand Valley to campus on Hall of Fame night---where, among others, Dr. John Wilson will be inducted to the athletic hall of fame. Riding to Northwood and back with Dr. Wilson last Saturday was a true joy. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I didn't realize until Saturday what a sense of humor he had.

Jim and I will be on the air Saturday at 6:45. Here's hoping the Chargers can shock the world!


Andy Losik said...

Great commentary Andy! Thanks for taking the time to be part of!

Charger1234 said...

Timing is everything and it couldn't be better for the Chargers. Let's use our 300 point SAT score advantage and out smart them on every play.This is a once in a lifetime opportunity (for most people) to play a #1. Should take little effort to get our players and fans fired up.

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