Sports for October 1, 1999

Liberty vs. R.C. Byrd

Mountaineers' passing attack to test Eagles' stingy defense

by Mike Nutter
Sports Writer
There's enough angles in tonight's Liberty-Robert C. Byrd game to even keep a high school geometry teacher busy for a whole class period.
The Class AA No. 12 Mountaineers (3-2) and Class AAA No. 5 Eagles (4-0) highlight the area's prep action 7:30 at Robert C. Byrd Stadium.
First, there's the intriguing matchup between Liberty quarterback David Patterson and Robert C. Byrd's Luke Wallace. Patterson, arguably one of the state's premier signal callers, has thrown for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns, while Wallace has six interceptions in just four games to lead a Robert C. Byrd defense which has 12 interceptions on the year.
Two of Robert C. Byrd's top backs from last year are now in the Liberty backfield. Tailback Max Williams leads Liberty with 268 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, while Pete Arbonaise has 11 receptions for 144 yards.
Both have been an integral part of Liberty's wide-open offense.
The bottom line, though it is at the midway point of the season, a win for either side could go a long way toward solidifying a playoff berth.
Robert C. Byrd would like nothing more than to have the opportunity to host a playoff game, while a win over a highly-ranked AAA team would give Liberty some valuable points in the state rankings.
"This is going to be a big challenge," said Liberty coach Roger Gorby. "We watched the film (from Preston) and we won on the scoreboard, but we came out of there pretty banged up. We've got a couple of kids who will probably be out and a couple more who we still don't know about.
"We don't want to jeopardize an entire season for one game."
Despite Patterson's lofty stats, Robert C. Byrd coach Richard Iaquinta feels stopping Liberty from establishing an early ground game is key.
"They seem to always play us tough," Iaquinta said. "I think they'll come out and try to run the ball on us. If you let them run the ball and pass the ball then they usually win the ball game."
Stopping the run hasn't been a problem for Robert C. Byrd. In their four games, the Eagles are giving up 91 yards rushing per game and just 2.9 yards per carry.
Senior defensive lineman Jimmie Rogers says Robert C. Byrd can't let Patterson have time to find his targets in the pocket.
"We can't let him sit back there all day and find his guys," Rogers said. "We have to put pressure on him.
"We know they'll come out throwing the ball a lot. We haven't had too many people throwing the ball on us, but when they have we've had a good enough secondary to stop it," Rogers said.
Robert C. Byrd will counter Liberty's passing game with a power running game led by junior tailback Scott Ross, who comes into the contest with an average of 109.5 yards per game.
Senior Trey Adams is Patterson's favorite target with 20 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns. Chad Southern has 17 catches for 231 yards, and gives Liberty a deep threat.
"We can't change what we do offensively because of who we're playing this week," Gorby said. "This is a type of game that could come down to whoever minimizes their mistakes.
Robert C. Byrd "doesn't turn the ball over a whole lot. Because of our style (of offense) we're going to have a couple of turnovers, but we can't give them the ball deep in our territory and expect to win."
In other games around the area, Lincoln (0-5) visits Class AA No. 5 Bridgeport (3-1). The Indians are led by tailback Chris Cunanan, who is averaging 125 yards per game and leads the Big 10 with eight TDs. Philip Barbour (0-5) visits South Harrison (2-2), a winner of two straight and Notre Dame (1-4) travels to Clay-Battelle (3-2).
Class AAA No. 3 University is at Elkins (3-2), Lewis County (1-3) is at Buckhannon-Upshur (2-3), Fairmont Senior (2-3) is at Preston (2-3) and North Marion (2-3) is home against East Fairmont (1-4).
Gilmer County is at Calhoun County, Nicholas County visits Braxton County and Southern Garrett, Md. is at Tucker County.
All games have a 7:30 kickoff.

Brown has become unlikely go-to guy

by Chris Errington
Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN -- When your offense is struggling the way West Virginia's has through the first four games of the 1999 season, nothing seems to evolve as planned.
Antonio Brown is clearly not West Virginia's most explosive receiving threat. At 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, the sophomore from Miami Central High School lacks the size and the experience to outmaneuver stronger, more experienced defenders.
And with Ivy and Greene, both seniors with two years of starting experience, ahead of him, Brown's preseason statement seemed secure.
Why then does Brown currently have more than twice (29) the catches than Ivy (14), his nearest competitor? Here's a hint -- it has a lot to do with West Virginia's 1-3 record.
"This offense isn't geared for Antonio Brown, and teams are starting to notice a tendency in our formations," injured quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We need to find a way to spread the ball around."
While the majority of Brown's catches have come on wide receiver screens, quickly becoming a staple in West Virginia's offense, he's also become a go-to receiver, something the Mountaineers never expected to happen. And it's starting to become increasingly frustrating for other players.
Pat Greene, who tied a Mountaineer Field record with 205 yards on 12 catches in the 1997 regular season finale against Pittsburgh, has just eight catches for 101 yards and no touchdowns this season. He said it's just another sign of West Virginia's inability to make big plays.
"I thought I'd have eight catches the first game," Greene said, "but I can't complain about my stats, because the whole offense is bad. Right now, I'm not sure we have a go-to guy. But I know I haven't been him so far."
With Bulger out for at least three weeks due to a fractured index finger on his throwing hand, it's likely Greene's frustrations and Brown's short swing passes will continue with sophomore Brad Lewis at quarterback.
It's also possible the offense's 132 consecutive minutes without a touchdown could also continue.
There is, however, a remedy. The problem is, West Virginia offensive coordinator Dan Simrell and his players can't agree on what it is.
Simrell likens the Mountaineers' offensive woes to a costly array of penalties, missed assignments and dropped passes. His players liken it to defenses dictating to them, instead of the opposite.
"We're going to spread the ball around, but we've had more dropped balls than we've liked and we have to eliminate penalties," Simrell said. "We're our own worst enemy."
Bulger, who broke 19 school passing records a year ago, yet has thrown just five touchdowns with six interceptions this season, said West Virginia's lack of a rushing threat has hurt a passing offense that many figured would be the best in the Big East.
"Last year we definitely dictated to defenses," Bulger said. "This year we try to run the ball and it doesn't work. Then we try to throw the ball and it doesn't work. Until we get consistent with both, it'll be this way."
The statistics prove Bulger correct.
Tailbacks Avon Cobourne and Cooper Rego have gained 516 yards on 112 carries (a 4.6 yard average) but have scored just two touchdowns. Conversely, tight end Anthony Becht, considered an All-American candidate, joins Ivy and Greene with just 10 catches for 106 yards and no touchdowns, adding to the maddening offensive concerns.
Bridgeport runs win streak to 9 games

Dean scores two goals in Indians' 3-0 victory

by Charles Casey
BRIDGEPORT -- Jamey Dean scored two goals to power Bridgeport past Elkins 3-0 in high school boys soccer action Thursday night at Wayne Jamison Field.
The victory marked Bridgeport's ninth straight and raised its record to 10-1-1.
"The pressure that we put on both offensively and defensively has been the key to our success," Bridgeport coach Ian McAra said.
"We are playing pretty well and where we were struggling early in the season, that is not the case right now.
"We are playing much harder and this is a good group of seniors that wants to do well," McAra said.
Dean scored both of his goals in the first half as Bridgeport outshot Elkins 11-0 in the first 40 minutes of action.
Dean's first score came unassisted with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter. He scored the goal from 20 yards out and from a sharp angle.
Bridgeport could have mounted a big lead if it had not been for the tremendous play in goal by Elkins' Kurt Gainer.
Gainer was peppered with 10 shots in the first period, but allowed only Dean's shot to go in.
Dean added to the Bridgeport advantage by scoring on the only shot of the second quarter with 5:25 showing on the clock.
Frank Annese assisted on the goal as he set up Dean with a nice pass in the goal square.
"I thought we played very well in the first half of play," McAra said. "Everyone did a tremendous job and this has been a team effort."
Billy Riley had another standout performance in goal for the Indians.
He made only two saves, but one of them came with two minutes to play in the contest on a penalty kick to preserve the shutout.
Christopher Williams added Bridgeport's final goal when his left-footed shot from 30 yards out reached the back of the net with 10:42 left in the fourth quarter.
Bridgeport held a huge shot advantage over Elkins (7-4-2). The Indians outshot the Tigers 24-2.
Both of Elkins' shots came in the second half.
Bridgeport returns to action on the road Saturday against Jefferson County. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

6 WVC schools to meet about new conference

by Greg Talkington
Sports Writer
Presidents and athletic directors from nine schools will meet in Pittsburgh next Wednesday to begin work on bylaws and operational procedures for a proposed Division II conference.
Officials from six West Virginia Conference schools, including Alderson-Broaddus, West Virginia Wesleyan and Davis & Elkins, are expected to attend.
Both Dr. Stephen Markwood, A-B President, and athletic director Dr. Paul Bennett will be in attendance.
"We're going to discuss and work on several issues concerning the nuts-and-bolts types of things that it takes to run a conference," Markwood said.
Markwood said he met with A-B coaches two weeks ago to get their input and concerns.
"We told them how things were coming along and then ask them to give their concerns," Markwood said. "Dr. Bennett has been in charge of this and has collected in writing our coaches' concerns."
Three other West Virginia schools, the University of Charleston, Wheeling Jesuit and Ohio Valley College of Parkersburg are also expected to be at the meeting.
Malone (Ohio), Tiffin (Ohio) and Gannon of Erie, Pa. are the other schools expected to attend.
"There is talk that a 10th school might come to the meeting, but I will find out more on that at the meeting," Markwood said. "Like I've said before, this is not a done deal, but if everything goes smoothly, then schools will likely begin committing to it sometime in January or February.
In another matter related to A-B, Markwood said he was not aware of any structural damage to the school's athletic facility.
"No, I'm not aware of anything of that nature," Markwood said. "I can tell you this, we don't have an asbestos problem."
The facility, the Rex Pyles Arena, was built in 1969 and has been renovated at least once, Markwood said.
"It's a well-designed and well-constructed facility," Markwood said.

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