One last gasp. Youngstown State will celebrate the careers of the senior football players, cheerleaders, and band members this Saturday. The last note, cartwheel, and reception can all take place within a few seconds of each other. Then it is gone. All that is left for the great majority of those seniors is the memories of the days when they were that person.
Indiana State comes to town ranked #7 and having a sensational year. They are a good football team that will try to jam the ball down the throats of the eight YSU defenders in the box. Last season, they did exactly that, racing out to a 21-0 and holding on for a 37-35 lead. The underlying themes of that game were that Shakir Bell is really good, and Youngstown State will not quit.
Maybe a coincidence, but the Penguins are again chasing the Sycamores. This race however covers a season, and YSU is trailing again. The Penguins are mathematically alive for a playoff spot but will need to knock off Indiana State before any consideration will be given. It is a must win game for both teams.
At the weekly press conference, YSU’s Jamaine Cook was asked to compare himself to Bell.
“We are very different, he [Bell] is a quicker back than me, but I think I run with a little more power”, said Cook.
“Cook is a veteran. I am not so sure he has more power than me. Pound-for-pound I think I got him. I’m quicker, but I think I am just as, if not more, powerful.”
Either way, both backs have had great years at their respective universities and the ground enthusiasts will be real happy to attend this game. Bell, a junior, is a finalist on the Walter Payton Watch List.
Indiana State will ride a bus to Canton on Friday and have a walkthrough practice at Fawcett Stadium. After the walkthrough, the players will get to visit the NFL Hall of Fame.
“We visited the Hall of Fame two years ago on this trip in. I enjoy going through there and noticing how many great running back only averaged four to five yards per carry”, said Bell.
As far as last season’s meeting, Bell was quick to be quoted in the present.
“Last year was last year, it’s in the past and does nothing for us now. They [YSU] beat Pitt and Pitt almost beat Notre Dame. They are a good team and they like to hit. We are going to do all we can to execute and we are not thinking about losing.”
YSU’s Aronde Stanton also talked about the weapon the Sycamores use best.
“Bell is a really good back, but we have seen some good running backs all season. He is probably the best running back we will see though and we have to find a way to get it done.”
While Bell was quick to shun last years game, many Penguins pointed toward a regular season ending loss to Missouri State that kept them out of the postseason.
“Last year we overlooked our opponent and looked toward the playoffs”, said Cook. “We won’t make that mistake this year.”
Penguin TE Will Shaw commented on what it will take to post a win. “Last year at Indiana State we dug ourselves too big of a hole. We want to have a fast start and take care of business this year.”
Coach Wolford respects the Sycamores and knows that YSU has a tough task to deal with this weekend.
“Anytime you beat North Dakota State, it is a good season. They are a creative team with a wide-open playbook and they make you accountable.”
The playoffs are a coveted goal for all teams. YSU can win and still be left out thanks to the month of October. However, Wolford thinks that a win should be enough.
“If it’s meant to be, then it’s meant to be. Seven of the ten teams we have played so far have been ranked in the Top-25 this season.”
Kickoff is set for 2 pm with a decent weather forecast to look forward too. See you at the game that I predict the Penguins to win, 31-28.