Glenville State College faces tough task on senior day

Charleston invades GSC on Saturday

Photo courtesy Glenville State College Glenville State College’s JT Ngangum brings down Urbana running back Isaiah Young during a game earlier this year at Morris Stadium. At noon Saturday, the Pioneers will play host to the University of Charleston in a battle of 5-5 Mountain East Conference programs.

GLENVILLE — Charleston and Glenville State will battle for sole possession of fourth place in the Mountain East Conference come noon Saturday inside Morris Stadium.

The Golden Eagles are coming off consecutive tough setbacks to Notre Dame (17-10) and Shepherd (25-20). The G-men of second-year head coach Eric Smith are trying to win their third in a row and finish the campaign with a winning record at 6-5.

Despite UC having a 5-5 record as well, a senior day victory is going to be anything but easy.

“They’ve got about nine seniors on offense and nine seniors on defense and they are a good football team,” Smith said. “This is a phenomenal team we are playing. This is the best 5-5 team I’ve ever seen in the MEC.

“It’s going to take, obviously, a very good team effort — on offense, defense and special teams. We are going to have to come out and take care of the ball and be good on third downs and we’re going to have to get some turnovers on defense.”

Charleston is led by tailback Jimmy Wheeler, who is 58 yards shy of 1,000. Quarterback Mason Olszewski’s favorite target has been Mike Starchan (43-952-7), but D’Andre Brooks has scored thrice on 30 grabs for 391 yards.

Mario Pender paces the GSC ground attack and is ranked 14th nationally in rushing yards per game (115.1). On the season, he’s amassed 1,036 ground yards.

Jaylen McNair continues to lead the offense at quarterback for the G-men, who have been bolstered by the return of wideout Javon Butler. Butler, who has played six games and doesn’t qualify in the D2 national stats, leads the MEC in receiving yards per game at 119.3. He has 44 receptions for 716 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Our guys are playing at a high level and with confidence. That’s definitely a good thing going into week 11,” added coach Smith. “To be honest, we’re going into week 11 and we are peaking. We’re playing at our best right now and that’s what you want.

“We started 1-4 and have won four of the last five games. It goes to show how hard these guys are working and they are trusting the process and they continue to get better each and every day.”

That includes Butler.

“He’s a great kid, number one,” Smith said of Butler. “He’s obviously a very, very good wide receiver. He can take the top off a defense in the blink of an eye. Getting him back just brought a whole new dimension to the offense.

“The running back crew is playing at a high level and so is the O-line. They can’t just sit there in the box. He’s (Butler) the best deep threat in the conference. He’s a pretty special young man.”

Offense could be hard to come by for the Pioneers, especially considering UC just limited the high-powered Shepherd offense to 284 total yards.

Not only is the UC defense almost in the top 10 of D2 in total yards, but they are inside the top 15 in third-down conversion defense and rank inside the top 25 nationally in tackles for loss as a team.

“They are good and this is the best defense in the conference by far,” Smith added. “They run that 3-3 stack just like Tony Gibson up at West Virginia. When you don’t face that every day, you have to really narrow it down on what you want to run.

“You can’t be in six or seven different formation. You got to narrow it down to what you are going to do and get good at it in practice. We’ve got to execute our game plan and just play ball.”

No matter what happens, Smith and the coaching staff are proud of their team for sticking it out when things weren’t looking good early in the campaign.

“We’ve made leaps and bounds and improvements since last year when we won three conference games and we’ve already won five,” noted the coach, who wouldn’t mind seeing a 6-5 finish and his first winning record. “I tell the guys, my first winning record, absolutely, but it’s not about me. It’s about these seniors. We only have a few of them. To send them out on the right note and with a winning season would just mean the world to us.

“It means a lot to this program as well as these coaches, not me, I’m pointing at my coaching staff. We are doing a lot with a little and that’s what it takes. We are last in scholarships in the conference. We are 10 below the average and we’re doing what we’re going. We were picked ninth going into this thing and I’m excited how we’ve finished so far. We’ve got to finish this thing out the right way.”

    Mountain East Conference

    Charleston (5-5, 5-4 MEC) at Glenville St. (5-5, 5-4 MEC)

    Noon, Saturday at Morris Stadium

    Inside the Numbers

Golden Eagles

∫ Jonte Pooler, T7th nationally in passes defended per game

∫ UC defense is 11th nationally in total defense (266.4)

∫ UC defense is 14th nationally in third-down conversions

∫ UC defense is T23rd nationally in tackles for loss (82)

Pioneers

∫ Dominic Cizauskas is T4th nationally in tackles for loss per game (7.0)

∫ Mario Pender is 14th nationally in rushing yards per game (115.1)

∫ Justin Watts is 25th nationally in punting average (41.6)

∫ Daniel Robinson is T25th nationally in passes defended per game

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