The Post Game Show

Monday, October 24, 2005

Keep Hope Alive! Keep Hope Alive!

Although for the Hornet football team's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title chances, hope is about as slim as a top model heroin and vomit diet. Despite pounding Morgan State 41-14 to win their first homecoming game in three years, State (5-3 overall, 4-1 MEAC) is still on the outside looking in thanks to Hampton's tough 14-10 victory over the team people felt would be the biggest threat to HU's MEAC reign, South Carolina State.

The one faint hope that the Hornets have is that if the Pirates drop their last two conference contests (against Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M) and DSU wins their final three MEAC battles, beginning with those angry S.C. State Bulldogs this Saturday.

It is indeed a long-shot scenario, but the fact the this team, two years removed from a 1-10 season, is in contention for the conference crown says a lot about how good of a coach Al Lavan is and how a little faith can go a long way. To his credit, he stuck with red-shirt freshman QB Vashon Winton when people were calling for his benching following that tough three-game stretch, and Vashon is rewarding Coach's patience with gradual improvement and a penchant for big plays with his arms and feet.

Rodney Roy, much maligned for his hard-nosed running style, has come on like a freight train the last three games (342 yards and three touchdowns), and could very well be the first Hornets back with 1,000 yards in a season since Maurice Foster in 2001. And Shaheer McBride, well he continues to be arguably the best receiver in the MEAC, making the tough catches looks easy and the routine chains-moving catch into touchdowns.

Defensively, Sam Smith now has a rushing partner in sophomore D-End Kelly Rouse. Rouse has made his present felt, more often than not in the opponent's backfield, making it tough to double on Smith, one of the best defensive players in the nation. And with the linebacking core led by the constant motor of Kenny Kern and the sheer brutality of Russell Reeves, it's hard as hell to get past that DSU front seven. And if you try to pass, cornerback Deon Rheubottom will hurt your feelings by knocking down passes, or being all over your top receiver like R. Kelly at a junior-high prom. Safeties Jamel Trott and Ryan Robinson, along with an emerging Tyrone Kelly, make it even harder to pass under or across the middle with their athleticism and hard hitting style.

And special teams continue to be a pleasant surprise for this team. Sophomore defensive back Akeem Green blocked his second punt of the year to set-up the Hornets' go-ahead score late in the first half, Blake Saunders is the heart and soul, tackling would-be returners before they can even get started, and Eric Kontos and Peter Gaertner are the best punter-placekicking tandem outside of Cameron Muro and Andrew Paterini at Hampton, making the Hornets a complete team.

While the MEAC title is a long shot, what you can bank on is that the Delaware State University football revival is well underway, and a conference crown can't be far off. Especially when this year isn't exactly done yet. Hope may not be so slim after all.


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