Sports for October 8, 1999
Notre Dame has 'Wright' stuff
by Charles Casey
Notre Dame coach Robert Shields couldn't have asked for a better performance from his team than the one he witnessed Thursday night against Tygarts Valley.
Notre Dame rolled up more than 300 yards rushing and its defense forced six turnovers in routing Tygarts Valley, 42-12, in Class A high school football action on Homecoming Night at Hite Field.
Notre Dame (2-5) rushed for 305 yards on 49 carries and powered the ball all evening long. Shields was very impressed.
"I have to give the offensive line a lot of credit," Shields said.
"These guys showed me that they wanted this one and played with a lot of emotion."
Jeremy Wright led the rushing attack with 164 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns. He also intercepted two passes.
Those two pickoffs by Wright came in the first quarter to stake Notre Dame to a 14-0 lead. Wright rushed five times for 42 yards on the Irish's first possession and scored from two yards.
After Wright's second interception, Notre Dame drove 52 yards in five plays with quarterback Mark Jones going into the end zone from 19 yards.
"We wanted to show a little enthusiasm on homecoming," Wright said.
"These guys played very hard, and this was definitely a good team win."
After Tygarts Valley (1-5) cut the deficit to 14-6, Notre Dame drove 61 yards in six plays helped by the Bulldogs fumbling a punt and a face mask penalty. Two plays after Jon Lockett recovered the fumble, Wright scored his second touchdown of the half from eight yards to put Notre Dame in front 20-6 at halftime.
Notre Dame led 20-12 when backup freshman quarterback Casey O' Brien made a big play. He completed his only pass of the game to Lockett for 24 yards and a touchdown to give the Irish a 28-12 advantage with 3:06 left in the third period.
"(O'Brien) came in and played very intelligently," Shields said. "I was very proud of the way he handled himself."
Lockett had a very impressive evening. He rushed six times for 78 yards and added the 24-yard touchdown reception.
Porter assumes role as WVU playmaker by Dan Shrensky
MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's Jerry Porter might be the first athlete who doesn't know who he is without a scorecard.
Porter, the Mountaineers' 6-3, 215-pound senior, has been moved from free safety to wide receiver to bolster an offense that is woefully short of playmakers.
"The overall tone of the offense is that they're looking for someone who can make a play," Porter said. "I can make the play. All it is is concentration."
During WVU's off-week, Porter has worked out exclusively at receiver, but says he is still considered the emergency quarterback behind Brad Lewis.
Position switches are nothing new to Porter. He started his career at WVU as a quarterback, moved to receiver and has spent the last 17 games at safety. Coaches tried him at receiver sporadically this season but increased their commitment because of Pat Greene's nagging hamstring injury and to add zip to a stagnant offense.
The Mountaineers have had only three plays cover more than 30 or more yards this season.
"Jerry is an exciting player," coach Don Nehlen said on his statewide radio talk show Wednesday night. "We think he can make some plays for us.
And don't be surprised if we come out of the huddle one time and he's the quarterback."
Porter said he's having no trouble getting reacquainted with the offense as the Mountaineers (1-4) prepare to play Rutgers Oct. 16 at Mountaineer Field.
"I enjoy it," he said. "I've got a good grasp of the offense. It's not a pain because I've played there before and the offense hasn't changed.
It would be different if I'd never played there before and got moved in midseason."
For his career, Porter has 13 catches and three touchdowns, his finest hour coming in the 1997 Carquest Bowl when he had four receptions, including touchdowns of 21 and 74 yards in a loss to Georgia Tech.
In his first year at safety last year, he led the team with five interceptions.
Porter returned his lone interception this season for a touchdown.
Although Porter's latest move could help the Mountaineers improve, there's no telling what effect it will have on his stock as an aspiring NFL player.
"I have no clue," Porter said. "It might be a good thing because they could see my versatility or it might be a bad thing because they haven't had a chance to see me in one spot for very long."
Despite the disappointing start, Porter said the team remains optimistic.
"We're upbeat. We have one conference loss. That doesn't mean we can't win the rest of them," he said.
"We don't think we're a bad team at all. Things just haven't gone our way.
"If you look at our games, we've been in every one except Maryland.
We feel like there's one or two things we could have done in each of those losses that could have turned it around."
Porter said this week's practices have been short but intense.
"We're working as hard, if not harder, than we would if we had a game this weekend," he said.
True freshmen enjoying crash course at Glenville State by Greg Talkington
Near the end of fall camp, Glenville State coach Rick Trickett was a bit giddy when talking about his talented corps of true freshmen.
"I have to pinch myself when I think about these guys," Trickett said in late August. "If we could get another class like this one, we could correct some things around here in a hurry."
It's now early October and the only guys pinching themselves are opposing coaches trying to deal with the Pioneers' kiddy corps.
"I'll tell you what, some of those guys don't play like first-year kids," West Virginia Wesleyan coach Bill Struble said. "There's two or three of those guys on defense that really stand out."
While only two of the newcomers start for the Glenville defense, as many as 10 see action during the course of a game.
Inside linebacker Jesse Wisnewski and middle guard Eli Kiener have made the biggest impact.
Wisnewski, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder from St. Albans, has recorded 22 tackles, including three for losses. He also has a sack and a fumble recovery.
"Wisnewski is just amazing for the fact that he makes our defensive calls," defensive coordinator Rob Keys said. "He's got all the physical skills, but he's mentally into it too."
Kiener, a 6-foot-2, 270-pounder from Somerset, Ohio, was a power lifting champion in Ohio. He's been in on 18 tackles with seven of them going for losses.
"Kiener has amazing upper- and lower-body strength," Keys said. "But the thing that makes him doubly dangerous is the fact that he's a good athlete too."
Keys said both are physically mature, more like college juniors.
"The high school programs they came from must be good, because both are really strong and both are technique-sound," Keys said. "In St. Albans and Somerset, they must stress lifting."
While these two have made the biggest impact, others are starting to make their presence known.
Guys like Doug Okorocha, Brady Trace and John Pfursich are seeing the field more often than not.
Okorocha, a 6-3, 240-pounder from Columbus, Ohio, has tons of potential.
"He might be the most talented of the whole bunch," Keys said. "He's a great pass rusher, and once he learns how to play the position, he'll be outstanding."
Trace, who looks like a Alex Van Pelt clone right down to the No. 10 on his jersey, is a converted quarterback. Of course, at 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds, Van Pelt wasn't your average high school quarterback.
"Once he got in here and saw he probably wouldn't play for awhile at quarterback, he quickly went to defense," Keys said. "He's extremely smart and makes some of our calls when he's in there. He's also pretty strong for a freshman."
Pfursich, a 6-foot, 265-pounder from Lititz, Pa., had his "breakout game" against West Virginia Wesleyan last Saturday.
"He probably got in about 10 plays a game during the first four games," Keys said. "We brought him along slowly, but he really played well last week and has had a great two days of practice this week."
Defensive backs Wayne Burnett of Miami and Tim Reese are also beginning to see playing time while defensive tackle Joshua Bush of Newark, Ohio, has come on of late.
Former Tucker County standout Tyson Shahan sees four-to-five plays a game at outside linebacker, but has stood out on special teams.
"Tyson is on on both kick teams and our punt return team," Keys said.
"The blocked punt he got in the St. Joe's game was real big."
It set up the game-winning TD.
With only two senior starters, it appears Glenville's defense could become a dominating one during the next few years.
"If these guys stay together and continue to get better, it's no telling how good they can be," Keys said. "They are so business-like now that I can't see them not getting better.
"The great thing about them is that they're just as focused on Tuesday and Wednesday as they are on Saturday."
The defense will get its toughest test to date Saturday when the Pioneers visit Fairmont State and its versatile, high-powered and offense.
Eagles, Indians highlight prep slate by Mike Nutter
Forget the records, and with them Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd's lofty rankings this year. Forget the fact that the game could have big implications on both the county and Big 10 Conference race.
For both sides, this is simply "the game," and at 7:30 tonight the two will square off at Bridgeport to highlight area football action.
Robert C. Byrd (5-0, 3-0 Big 10) comes in ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, while Bridgeport (4-1, 2-1) is No. 4 in Class AA.
Maybe Robert C. Byrd tailback Scott Ross put the game into perspective best when asked if is his team was prepared for the game.
"It's Bridgeport," Ross said. "Heck yeah we'll be ready."
Ross sentiments echo both sides' feelings. Even after the game is long over, the after effects are still felt.
"This has always been a huge rivalry, even when it was Washington Irving," Bridgeport quarterback Ryan Nicewarner said. "We catch heck from everyone because Clarksburg and Bridgeport are so close. We see each other out and get on each other. It's probably the biggest game all year.
"We just have to execute. I've got enough confidence in our line that we can run it right at them, but if it comes up to where I have to throw the ball, I know my line will give me the time and my receivers will come up with the catch."
Both sides are getting ready for a physical game on both sides of the line.
Bridgeport's Chris Cunanan and Ross are second and third, respectively, in the Big 10 in rushing and combined, both defenses are giving up just 17.4 points per game.
"I expect this to be the most physical game we play all year," Bridgeport coach Bruce Carey said. "What we want to do is get them in a second-and-long yardage. If we let them have third-and-one, third-and-two, we're in trouble.
"For us, we've got to throw the ball, but we have to throw the ball to beat anybody. Our running game hasn't been real strong to where we can just run it at them all the time. The question is whether we pass well enough to loosen their defense up."
Nicewarner averages around 85 yards passing a game, but stopping Bridgeport from establishing their ground game is the primary concern of Robert C.
Bridgeport "is going to test us to see if we can stop their run first," Robert C. Byrd linebacker Joey Gonzalez said.
"That's just what they're like. Once they start passing the ball, they're going to have to test Luke (Wallace) and the rest of those guys back there and so far they've done a great job of stopping teams' passing.
"We respect them and I'm sure they respect us, but both sides are going to try to put a hurting on each other."
Robert C. Byrd is coming off a big win last week over Liberty and coach Richard Iaquinta said keeping that emotion is big.
However, establishing a more consistent rushing attack is his biggest concern.
"I've been disappointed more than a little bit with our running game," Iaquinta said. "We do have a lot of young kids and they're learning the offense, but at the offenses expense.
"You can't make too many mistakes against a team like Bridgeport. They don't make a whole lot of mistakes, and they've built a strong program over there. We're just trying to approach this like any other game. We're going to try to take away what they do best and hopefully we can execute in the key situations."
In other games, Liberty (3-3, 0-2) will try to rebound from last week's loss to Robert C. Byrd when it plays Lincoln (0-6, 0-3) in a game featuring two talented quarterbacks -- Liberty's David Patterson and Lincoln's Jason Salentro. South Harrison (3-2, 3-1) will try to make it four straight wins when it takes on Preston (3-3), Tucker County (1-5) is at Grafton (4-1) and Elkins (3-3) is at Philip Barbour (0-6) in games involving other Big 10 teams.
In games involving NCAC teams, East Fairmont (1-5, 1-3 NCAC) is at Lewis County (2-3, 1-3), Buckhannon-Upshur (2-4, 0-4) visits Fairmont Senior (2-4, 1-3), North Marion (3-3, 1-3) visits Morgantown (5-0, 4-0) and University (6-0, 6-0) visits Parkersburg South (1-5).
Elsewhere, it's Doddridge County (3-3) at Williamstown (3-2), Valley Wetzel (3-3) at Clay-Battelle (4-2), Richwood at Braxton County and Gilmer County at Wahama.
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