Hornet Preview-Unfinished Business
Welcome to November, where the contenders are separated from the pretenders. After another successful October, the Shenandoah Hornets find themselves poised again for an ODAC championship. SU went 3-1 in October (that’s a combined 7-1 for the month the last 2 years) and is now set up for the final 2 games of the season.
November has not been kind to the Hornets, who conversely are 1-7 in week’s 10 and 11 in the Scott Yoder era. If Shenandoah is to take the next step, this is “winning time.” Championship teams know how to win when it counts.
Last year, the Hornets entered uncharted waters with a 4-1 conference mark. They may have been looking ahead to the finale against Washington & Lee, as they were blindsided by a 2-6 Hampden-Sydney team, 37-34 at Shentel Stadium, effectively ending Shenandoah’s ODAC dreams. The Hornets would also lose the somewhat anti-climactic game against the Generals, 59-42.
Sometimes you have to lose in order to know how to win. Hopefully last year’s lessons have been learned as SU, a year older (and wiser) tackles a clearly defined task: beat HSC and W&L, and the ODAC title is theirs.
This year, the Tigers can’t be overlooked. They are 5-3 and 3-1, and feature the league’s top defense, a defense that will be challenged to stop one of the top D-3 offenses in the nation. HSC also has a potent offense, featuring QB Alec Cobb, who has thrown for almost 2300 yards on the season. The Tigers can also run the ball, with RB Mike DeMasi adding 599 yards on the ground.
Of concern is the recent lack of ball security by Shenandoah. the Hornets had multiple turnovers 2 weeks ago in the loss at Guilford, and gave the ball away 5 times against Apprentice. A 5-turnover day this coming Saturday against Hampden-Sydney will almost surely derail the Hornets.
Both teams will try to make it’s opposing offense one-dimensional. The formula for last year’s Tiger win was to drop 8 defenders back into the passing lanes, and shut off the edges with an athletic 3-man front line. The Hornets will need to keep HSC honest with at least somewhat of a running game on Saturday, allowing QB Hayden Bauserman to find open receivers. The Tigers are going to dare SU to run the ball.
The Hornet defense, meanwhile, have to do a better job of stopping the Hampden-Sydney running game and make QB Cobb uncomfortable. Opposing backs seem to have career days against Shenandoah, and slowing down the run will be key on Saturday.
Look for a shootout-type game, one in which the last team with the ball could very well win. For Shenandoah, it’s time to take care of the unfinished business of 2016. A more-experienced Hayden Bauserman will be the difference in this one, and the Hornets will outlast HSC 41-35…setting up a defacto ODAC title game next week at Shentel.
Should be fun…as we take the airwaves at 12:30 tomorrow. That’s it from the Booth, until next time,