MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A big Class Triple-A showdown goes down on Saturday as the undefeated University Hawks travel to Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Hawks see a strong Wheeling Park program. Hawks head coach John Kelley said this match up is always a good one and his players are confident in themselves.
“I mean they believe we can go up there and do it. I’m sure there are a lot of people throughout the state that don’t but we think we’re a good football team and in order to be a good football team, to be considered a top team we have to go play teams like this and beat them. How much more excited can you be to go on the Island and play. We’ve had great games with these guys. Sometimes they win sometimes we win but they’ve always been shootouts and I expect the same thing,” Kelley said.
The Hawks are 3-0 on the season so far posting wins against Brooke, Parkersburg South and John Marshall. Whats been working for the Hawks is an all-around experienced team and of course, their receiving core.
“Clawges stretches the field to the point where you really have to dedicate two people to him. Elija Jackson has been the sleeper that nobody knew about. He’s a catch and run guy and he’s a jitterbug out there. You can’t catch him on that carpet. Jaeden Hammack is another guy that if you sleep on he’s going to hurt you. And last week, Noah Braham raises up and catches three touchdown passes coming out of the backfield. They’re coming from every direction,” Kelley said.
Kelley mentioned how this game against Park is a test for his Hawks. If they beat a team like Wheeling Park, their 3-0 start is no fluke.
“This is a test. I told my kids we need to beat these guys and we need to beat Fairmont Senior to find out if we’re for real or if we’re just pretenders,” Kelley said.
Kelley also praised Wheeling Park. And after many years of playing against them, he knows what to expect.
“Outstanding football team. Outstanding coaches. Good quarterback in the Phillips kid. Tremendous speed. Probably have more speed and skill than we do. Big up front,” Kelley said.
The Hawks have been putting up 50 plus points per game against their opponents. The Hawks were down against Parkersburg South, but came back for the win and not only won, but won 62-33. Kelley said this isn’t the goal, the goal is simply to win, and the extra points may follow.
“It helps to know that you have the offense that can come back. We know we’re not going to score 50 points a game for the rest of the season. The goal is, and we talk about this as a team, to score one more than the other team,” Kelley said.
University has to keep playing their game, Kelley said. He’s pleased with what he’s seen so far, but he doesn’t want to see any slacking.
“We just have to keep doing the same things and get better every week. We can’t slide, we can’t have a bad game. They’ve brought the intensity, I have to give credit to the kids, they’ve brought it and have done what they’re supposed to do,” Kelley said.
The Hawks travel to the Island on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.