Local Sports, Sports, University

One spot out of the playoffs, University is using its off week to prepare for a postseason push

MORGANTOWN — There may not be a game to prepare for this week, but that doesn’t mean the University football team has been taking it easy recently. 

Coming off a dominant 42-14 win at Buckhannon-Upshur, the Hawks’ bye week, here in the middle of the season, is coming at just the right time. It’s giving the team a chance to reflect, prepare for the rest of the season, and get back to the basics.

“I give them Friday off, but there really isn’t a break during the week,” said UHS head coach John Kelley. “It’s like we’re back to preseason camp. We’re looking at 100-percent fundamentals with the drills we run. Everything we did during the summer we did again this week as a refresher to reinforce good habits. It’s been an effective week.”

Kelley said there are several starters who were banged up last week and they wouldn’t have been able to play if there was a game this week. With some players taking a rest, the team and coaches have also been focusing on goal-line situations, special teams and blocking drills.

“We went down and took care of business pretty effectively (against Buckhannon-Upshur),” Kelley said, “but there are still some things to work on. The win came at the right time. We’re 3-3 heading into the open week. It’s not exactly where we want to be because we could’ve been 5-1 at this point. We have a tough stretch ahead of us.”

The remaining schedule includes a home game against Spring Mills on Oct. 13, followed by Preston, the MoHawk Bowl with Morgantown and the last regular season game at Oak Hill. 

“We’re going to work just as hard as we would if we had a game, if not harder,” said senior Melique Lewis, who scored a rushing touchdown to open the scoring against BU. “We have a tough game next week against Spring Mills and it just gives us more time to be prepared for them.”

Spring Mills is 5-1 on the year, coming off a 46-0 blanking of Washington last week. The Cardinals’ lone loss this year was a 21-19 defeat to Jefferson in Week 1. They also have a bye week this week.

Without an opponent to prepare for, the Hawks are truly focusing on themselves this week. 

“It’s back to the basics — Football 101 and the understanding of the game,” said senior Trey Blunt. “Everyone’s working to do their jobs and handling the load that has been given to them and taking no plays off.”

Blunt said it was a “breath of fresh air” to secure the victory last week, especially after UHS dropped two of its last three games. He had one of the biggest plays of the night, scooping and scoring a 46-yard touchdown after a fumble recovery. He’s recorded a fumble recovery and two interceptions in previous years but had never scored a defensive touchdown before.

“As I came through the line with my eyes on the running back, I saw the ball get tipped by the receiver and land on the field. I immediately thought, ‘Should I get on it, or just pick it up and see how far I can get with it?’

“I’m just thankful that I was able to pick it up and my teammates were there and assisted as my escorts to ensure I got to the end zone. It wasn’t just a victory for me but for the team.”

Against BU, Lewis finished with 94 yards on 13 carries, had two receptions and was in the mix on the other side of the ball from his position on the defensive line.

“We fired on all cylinders that night,” Lewis said. “I’ve done a lot of speed work, footwork and I conditioned more for a bigger role on the team as I knew I would be playing both sides of the ball this year.”

According to the most-recent WSSAC football playoff ratings, University sits at No. 17, one position out of a playoff spot. Spring Mills is No. 5. 


TWEET @DomPostSports