Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, October 23, 2009's Tony Nicolette: Weekly Gliac Column

Tony Nicolette, GLIAC Column

"Co" Game of the Week
Wayne State (5-2, 6-2) at #24 Hillsdale (5-2, 6-2)

For the fifth straight week the Chargers face a team who is (at the time of the game) sporting a winning record and is/was first or second in the league. A win Saturday would net HC a 4-1 mark during this stretch and leave the Chargers with the easiest remaining path to 9-2 (Ferris and Tiffin) of the league's two-loss clubs.

Completing this five-game gauntlet with another win will require the Chargers to defeat Wayne State and the nation's leading rusher in Joique Bell - no small task by any stretch of the imagination. The Warriors won a low-scoring affair in Detroit when these two met last season.

By the way: Something to keep an eye on in this one is Bell's rushing total. He's less than five hundred yards from posting the second 2,000 yard rushing season of his career - certainly something you don't see every day. He'll face three of the league's top six rushing defenses in the next three weeks, so the task will be tall. As if this league didn't give us enough fun stuff to watch this year, now we get to follow this as well!

Wayne State Keys:
- Balancing Act - Yeah, we know that Joique and the ground game are WSU's bread-and-butter. With that said, Northern's physical defensive front kept him relatively in check a couple of weeks ago. Hillsdale is every bit as tough up front as NMU, so finding a way to get a bit more of passing game going will loosen things up a bit and maybe even hit for a big play.
- Front Seven must play like a Front Seventeen - Hillsdale has had hit their stride over the last couple of weeks and is now making it very hard to stop their offense. They can pound it on the ground, or pick you to death with short passes - all the while concerning you with the deep threat you know is there. Slowing the running game and putting pressure on Troy Weatherhead must happen for the Warriors to have success.

Hillsdale Keys:
- Keep it Rolling - The offense has been awful good of late, very tough to stop, and was all but perfect a week ago. I don't change a thing until Wayne makes me and proves they can take something away from me. Further, when HC is doing the things they have been they have a tendency to possess the ball well - and Joique Bell can't beat you when he's not in the game.
- Speaking of Bell - Hillsdale just needs to contain him. Yeah, it's a tall order. With that said, WSU is not set up to throw it all over the place. If the Chargers can keep Bell from taking over the game and make Mickey Mohner beat them HC has the advantage.

Prediction - I'm almost compelled to do another of my famous coin flips to pick this one. In the end, I think the Chargers at home and with their superior play on the offensive and defensive interiors will be the difference. I wouldn't be surprised if Bell has a big game, but even if he does I'd expect Vinnie Panizzi to follow suit - and I like the odds of Weatherhead being a difference-maker over Mohner. Hillsdale 37, Wayne State 31.

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