Tough test awaits GW
George Washington made its point Friday night, winning a key game at South Charleston without Kennedy Award-winning running back Ryan Switzer.
Now, a bigger question. Can the Patriots keep putting up the points if Switzer has to miss any more playing time with his injuries?
Switzer left midway through the first quarter of Friday's 36-24 comeback win against SC with a concussion and shoulder injury. His status for Friday's home opener versus Ashland Paul Blazer (Ohio) is cloudy.
On Saturday, Switzer thought he would be medically cleared to practice by Wednesday as far as his concussion, but an evaluation on his shoulder, scheduled for today, could determine his return to workouts.
"I don't think I'll be allowed contact for a couple days,'' Switzer said, "and I wouldn't want it because of my shoulder being in the condition that it is. It's not something that's going to keep me out for weeks, but it's something I have to take care of. I've got to do the necessary things, so that when I'm out there, I'm ready, I'm prepared.''
GW coach Steve Edwards Sr. seems to agree that Switzer's absence will be short-term rather than long-term.
"What [the medical staff] said was that there wasn't any damage,'' Edwards said. "There are no tears, nothing's broke. He didn't need an MRI, but he's going to be re-evaluated this week.
"It's going to be a game-time decision as to what we're going to do. I don't know any more than that.''
The Patriots could certainly use Switzer's explosiveness against Paul Blazer (2-0), which has blasted Kentucky foes Lawrence County 51-20 and Raceland 42-19 so far this season.
"They have two real games under their belt, which is a big plus for them,'' Edwards said. "They have a nice, quality ballclub. What they've got is a program, You watch them on the field, and they look really good. They're in the mix every year in the playoffs.''
GW passed sparingly Friday, as Trevor Bell completed 3 of 6 passes for 34 yards, but one was a clutch 11-yard hookup with Jordan Clay on third-and-10. The Patriots leaned on their fullback, Dustin Crouser, who carried 23 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
"Our kids, as you saw, were resilient,'' Edwards said. "We had a lot of kids step up tonight and play some football, which they had to play and they were forced to play. You prepare that way, and they kids proved to themselves that they can play.
"You get your opportunity, you get in there and you do your job. That's what we ask them to do - take care of each other. I'm really proud of that effort.''
Switzer, meanwhile, is not allowing himself to get discouraged by his ailments.
"If this is the worst thing I go through,'' he said, "I'll be OK.''
SC regains 'toughness'
Even though his team gave up the lead three different times in its loss to GW, South Charleston coach John Messinger feels that good things await his Black Eagles this season.
"I thought we played with them for 31/2, 33/4 quarters,'' Messinger said. "We played with them, and I think they know that.
"From where we came from last year to where we have come from in Week 1, I told them we've got nine more games to play, and we've got possibilities of winning nine more football games. Because if GW's the No. 1 team - and I think they are, and I don't base if they're No. 1 on how close we played them - then I think we're a good football team.''
South Charleston missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 last year, going 5-5.
Messinger challenged his team in the offseason to regain its "toughness,'' a trait he thinks the squad was lacking last year.
Even though the Black Eagles had some problems running the ball and defending the run (against Dustin Crouser, GW's 235-pound fullback), Messinger generally liked what he saw of their competitiveness.
"I hope Switzer's OK,'' Messinger said. "I hope he's fine because I know that's their lifeblood up there. I knew coming in that if something did happen to him [the question would be] can we handle Crouser? And we didn't do a very good job of it. We didn't tackle. We've got to get this kid on the ground.
"We also got really aggressive with the pass, and we had to. We're not running the football very well. My heart and soul lies with the linemen. I love them. To me, they're the lifeblood of our football team. We've got to get better and, from now on, I'm going to work with the offensive line every day and we're going to get better. But I think you'll have to agree that the South Charleston toughness was back tonight.''
Riverside, which knocked off St. Albans, visits Oakes Field to play SC on Friday.
Only one of the four new Kanawha Valley coaches enjoyed a victory in his debut on Friday - Jeremy Taylor of Hurricane, whose team handled Winfield 44-7.
The other three all fell - Steve Stoffel Jr. of St. Albans (lost to Riverside 44-27), Derek Midkiff of Nitro (lost to Poca 48-34) and Craig Snyder of Winfield (lost to Hurricane).