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Football Lookahead: Coming off Unexpected Bye, Lumberjacks Travel to Notre Dame

September 19, 2013
dsp By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Coming off a home loss to Cameron two weeks ago, Valley was looking to get back on the winning track with county rival Hundred slated to pay a trip to Pine Grove. Because of injuries, the Hornets were unable to make the trip, leaving Coach Tom West's squad without an opponent and an unexpected bye.

At the same time, West is willing to take the bad with the good, as his team did get a little nicked up against the Dragons and an extra week was what the doctor ordered with a trip to 2-0 Notre Dame slated for Friday night on the turf at Duvall-Rosier Field on the campus of Fairmont State University.

"You hate losing a game like that, but at the same time we should be completely healed this week and we found out early enough that we got to spend some extra time getting ready for this game," West added. "We have some young kids that made some mistakes in our last game, but we have been working on correcting them and that is going very well."

Coach Sam Alvaro's Fighting Irish have been rolling since getting shut out in the first three quarters of their opening against Grafton. Notre Dame scored 27 fourth-quarter points in that contest before getting past Cameron by a 27-16 count last week.

Notre Dame can come at you successfully both on the ground and through the air, but when you are game-planning for it, there is no question that you have to start with standout junior running back Santino Cava, who rushed for 185 yards on 33 tries against the Dragons.

Cava, who has already rushed for 2,597 yards in two-plus campaigns, is well on his way to becoming Notre Dame's career leader. After scoring four touchdowns in the opener, Cameron did keep him out of the end zone, but he did enough to set up scores and help provide a victory.

When the Irish do want to go to the air, Alvaro has more than enough confidence in quarterback Tyler McKinsey, who was 8 of 14 for 139 yards and two scores against the Dragons. Gaje Brown had five catches for 77 yards, while Wakem Simon added three grabs for 62. Both scored touchdowns.

"No question they give you a lot to deal with, but we are looking forward to the challenge," West said.

Valley likes to run the ball with in 6-foot, 235-pound junior workhorse Peyton Palmer and sophomore speedster Trey Streets. West had also planned to get sophomore Kale Lloyd some carries last week, and will do the same this week.

Senior Triston Kocher isn't asked to throw the ball much, but when he does, he has a more-than-capable receiver in Chase West.

"They are big, but they always are," Alvaro said of the Lumberjacks. "And they don't try to get fancy, they line up and try to smash you in the mouth with their run and then hit you with an occasional pass."

While Alvaro felt his team could have played better against the Dragons, he did like his quarterback's production.

"Tyler hitting a couple touchdown passes and playing like he did was very big for us," Alvaro said. "He was relaxed, had some good reads and did a good job with audibles. I was hoping that all that was going to happen early in the season and it did last week."

"I honestly feel like we are going to keep getting better and can really improve even more down the line. And the great thing is that we still have some weapons that we haven't even been able to use yet."

 
 

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