3 things to watch in district football
At the midway point of the season, the contenders and pretenders have been separated. But there remains plenty to play for down the stretch — even if that doesn’t include a conference title.
Here are three games to watch:
Robert Morris at Duquesne
In years past, this game might have been for supremacy in the Northeast Conference. Now, it is to avoid being in the NEC basement.
The Colonials (1-4, 0-2) have shown improvement on offense, averaging 27.6 points, or nearly three times as much as last season. Surprisingly, however, they have regressed on defense, giving up nearly 50 points per game under first-year coach Bernard Clark, who has a background in defense.
Duquesne (3-3, 0-1), perennially one of the NEC’s better offensive teams, is averaging fewer points (25.8) than Robert Morris. The Dukes still have Nehari Crawford, one of the conference’s best receivers, and they will have extra motivation playing in memory of running back Marquis Brown, who died last week.
Edinboro at Slippery Rock
With quarterback Roland Rivers at the helm, the Rock (5-1, 3-0) has emerged as a PSAC title contender. SRU leads the conference in scoring (39.3 points), and Rivers, who began the season as the third-string quarterback, has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 1,040 yards in only three-plus games.
Edinboro (4-2, 1-2) will try to counter Rivers’ production with cornerback Zuril Hendrick, who has five interceptions after amassing nine last season.
The Rock defense also has been solid, intercepting 11 passes and ranking second in the conference with 20 sacks. The unit figures to have its hands full with Edinboro running back Walter Fletcher (603 yards, nine TDs).
Waynesburg at Grove City
While W&J established itself as top dog in the PAC with its win over Case Western Reserve last week, the Waynesburg (3-3, 3-2) at Grove City (3-3, 2-3) game suddenly got interesting. The Wolverines have won two in a row and the Yellow Jackets three in a row as both try to claw their way up the standings.
Grove City is 2-0 since freshman Josh Ehst took over at quarterback. He led last week’s upset of Westminster with a rushing TD and a scoring toss to Cody Gustafson with 7 seconds left.
Waynesburg doesn’t have any “stars,” and its brand of football sometimes lacks aesthetic value. But the Yellow Jackets are the consummate grinders, keeping games close to give themselves a chance to win.
Expect a tight one at Thorn Field.
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact at Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at CCurti_Trib.