MORGANTOWN - A season ago at this time, University was absorbing its share of tough nights. It was also about this time when Coach John Kelley went with a youth movement.
The Hawks (3-0) are three weeks into what they've dubbed as their ''Redemption Tour.'' Up next on the schedule is Wheeling Park (2-1), which hits the road for the first time this season.
''We went to Wheeling last year and that was our worst performance - worst since I have been here,'' Kelley said. ''We're still very junior-laden team.
File photo by Alex Kozlowski
''We're liking what we see this year and for next year.''
The coaching cliche is that teams get better from Weeks 1 to 2, but University took a giant leap forward last week in a 45-0 rout of visiting Brooke.
''I think it was a combination of things,'' Kelley said. ''We were sky high for that game because we thought we better than them last year and we were just tired of Brooke beating us.''
Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty may be the only person that wasn't all too surprised with the margin in the Brooke-University game. He believes the Hawks will make some noise in the postseason.
''They didn't have a season to their liking last year, but experience is worth a lot in high school football,'' Daugherty said. ''We expect their best shot.
''If we don't get better this week, University will give us an 'L.' ''
The Patriots, after dropping a lopsided game to St. Clairsville in the opener, have rebounded with a pair of victories including last week's 41-13 rout of Brashear. Daugherty and his staff want Park to clean up mistakes like penalties.
''We have a lot to work and improve on,'' Daugherty said. ''I don't think anybody was happy when we watched film.
''But Brashear is a pretty good football team.''
Kelley looks at the Patriots and sees a sophisticated, explosive offense. In fact, he said, there's little doubt this will be the toughest team University has played to date.
''I'm very concerned about the speed. This is the first team we've played that can match our speed,'' Kelley said. ''(Eric) Banks and (Bryce) Ingram, every time they touch it can go the distance.
''That 3-3-5 defense creates problems because people are moving everywhere, and (Zach) Phillips, their quarterback, is very efficient.''
Ingram ran for a little more than 200 yards and three scores last week, while Ingram caught a long touchdown and returned a punt for a score.
The Hawks are just as balanced, but do their damage out of the spread option attack, which is led by quarterback junior quarterback Travis Renner (5-foot-9, 179 pou-nds). He ran for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Bruins.
''We ex-perimented with this offense last year,'' Kelley said. ''With the personnel, we've adopted to what we've had.
''This will be a good test with Park.''
Daugherty is concerned, but is armed with the knowledge that the Patriots were able to defend St. Clairsville better than anyone else to date, then has given up 13 and 14 points the last two games.
''I feel sorry for defensive staff because one week you have to do this, this and this,'' Daugherty said. ''Now you're telling the kids 'don't do that this week because they will burn us.'
''Every week is a totally different set of circumstances.''