Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, September 10, 2010 Tony Nicolette's GLIAC Column this week's action

Recap: Hillsdale 35, Ferris 17

The firm of "Weatherhead and Holmes" continued the shark-like litigation of GLIAC defenses it displayed throughout 2009. Quarterback Troy was near perfect hitting on 22 of 26 for 281 yards and three scores in three quarters of action, while wide-out Andre snagged ten balls for 132 yards and a touchdown. Making his bid for partner was Mike Blanchard, who hauled in nine grabs of his own for 125 yards and a TD as the Chargers held a 35-3 advantage entering the final stanza. Mike Ryan had eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to lead Ferris.

Preview: #14 Hillsdale (0-0, 1-0) at #1 Grand Valley (0-0, 1-0)

In 2009, the Grand Valley schedule put the Lakers on the road four times in the first five weeks. Things are shade more favorable for GV in 2010 as they open with three straight home contests. They need that help as for the second straight week they face a ranked opponent that has displayed a lack of fear of tangling with the nation's top-ranked outfit. Hillsdale heads to Allendale after a clean, solid tune-up last week against Ferris, and they're fired-up to repeat their 27-24 defeat of the Lakers last October.

Hillsdale Keys:

- Throw it a bunch - No real surprise for the Chargers, as this is something they do well. With that said, it seems especially true heading in to this one because the Lakers yielded 421 passing yards to Taylor Harris and West Texas A&M last week. While GV also forced four interceptions, they didn't put the kind of pressure on Harris they would have liked and they seemed to struggle at times with the physical WTAMU receivers. Hillsdale brings a similar offensive skill-set into Allendale, and must try and take advantage.

- Avoid the Shoot-out - The Hillsdale defense did a solid job last week against Ferris. With that said, they'll face a GV offense that should be a bit more solid than it was in its first outing with new starters at quarterback, running back, and receiver - and still managed 475 yards of total offense. The Charger defense has to find a way to get off the field, or it could be a matter of who has the ball last. That doesn't hurt HC, but isn't necessarily an advantage for them either.

Grand Valley Keys:

- DEFENSE - I mentioned earlier that GV allowed more yards in a game than they have in a long time. I dug as far back as I could (2002) and couldn't find a single outing where they gave up a total anywhere near the 567 they yielded against WTAMU. The lack of QB pressure was a problem at times (Danny Richard's absence hurts, no doubt), but that's something that should get fixed in the weeks to come. What I found more glaring was the surprisingly poor tackling. I cannot recall a Laker contest where the tackling was so poor. It was, frankly, rather shocking. Matt Mitchell is a defensive-minded guy, so I'm willing to bet special attention is being paid to this facet of the game as the Lakers prepare this week. If they don't improve, Weatherhead, Holmes, Blanchard and Glendening WILL take advantage.

- Offensive Progression - Kyle McMahon and the GV offense did what was needed to win, and while they didn't turn the ball over they were far from crisp on every possession. As McMahon and guys like Sherrod, Shuford, Augustus and Woolfork settle in to their expanded roles they should gain some consistency. Taking a huge leap forward this week is a must as an offense like Hillsdale's is going to score some points.

Prediction - The Lakers definitely showed a few holes last week. However, they also showed that even with some weak spots they are still able to grind out wins against quality opponents. Hillsdale has shown an utter lack of fear when playing the Lakers, and they'll come in to this one expecting to win. I don't blame them, as they proved worthy of that attitude by beating GV last year. With that said, it's awful hard to forget the playoff re-match that happened last November where the Lakers were up 37-0 at halftime. How can one ignore/forget two games with the same two teams in the same season that finished with such drastically different results? Hillsdale has what it takes to win this one, but I just have a hard time seeing Grand Valley playing like they did in the last game for two straight weeks - especially at home. Grand Valley 29, Hillsdale 21.

Read the rest of Tony's column.
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