CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Looks like George Washington is going short-handed again.The Patriots, who pretty much played their first two games of the regular season without Kennedy Award winning running back Ryan Switzer, now face playing the final two games of the regular season - and maybe more - without his lead blocker and fellow Division I recruit, Dustin Crouser.Crouser suffered a knee injury in last week's game against Capital and undergoes an MRI today to determine the severity. Most likely, he's suffered a torn ACL and he's out for the rest of the season."He's a tough kid,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. "It happened in the third quarter, and he played the rest of the ballgame after the trainer taped it up and he said, 'I'm going back in.' I guess the adrenaline was flowing."It blew his mind [when he found out about the injury later]. He didn't think it was that bad. He knows the situation, and he's glad that he's got his scholarship [offer]. But he hates it for the team, he hates leaving the team. Nobody feels worse about it than he does.''Earlier this season, Crouser, a fullback-linebacker, accepted an offer to play for Division I Charlotte, though the national signing day isn't for three months. Crouser is considered one of the top candidates for the Huff Award as the state's top defensive player.Edwards said his team must plow on despite the setback, just like it did earlier this year when Switzer went down with a concussion and shoulder injury early in the opener against South Charleston."There's no use to dwell on it,'' Edwards said. "We didn't dwell on it earlier in the season. It's a bad break for him, but we've got several weeks to go and we want to get in the tournament. You just regroup. We've had our share [of bad breaks], but you put another guy in, and that's the name of the game."You get tested all the time, and you see how people react. We've got confidence in our kids, and we'll see what we can do. Some other kids get an opportunity to play.''Besides his role as a defensive leader, Crouser also paved the way for Switzer, who has run for 4,300-plus yards over the last two seasons."A lot of what Switzer has done came on the heels of his blocking, and what he's done,'' SC coach John Messinger said of Crouser. "That's going to throw them a curve.''
Waiting and wonderingSC could find itself in a peculiar position next week if it wins at Parkersburg Friday to finish the regular season at 6-4.The Black Eagles, currently ranked No. 19, could find themselves in limbo as far as obtaining a Class AAA playoff berth, and might not know until the regular-season games wrap up the following weekend.So if they win, do they practice next week or not?
"If we're fortunate enough to win this game,'' Messinger said, "and we don't know right off the bat [if they're playoff bound], we'll give them Monday off and come back Tuesday. Normally, on our bye week, we let the kids play 7 on 7 and cut the field in half and play with four teams. We've had a lot of fun in the past with that, and we'll do that."Of course, it's all a moot point if we don't get this done Friday. We've got a plan in place if we have to wait out a week. We'll see what our fate is. We've got plenty to take care of.''
Messinger said it was difficult for his players to put last week's 7-6 loss at Ripley behind them."If you watch the video,'' he said, "you'd think we won the game by at least three scores. The reality of it is that we were great between the 20s but couldn't do anything in the red zone. Ripley came out and got after us and we couldn't get it done. We lost the battle of the line of scrimmage."We've got to take care of business this week. We were in the same situation last year [5-4 and needing a win] and didn't get it done. We know we're a better football team than last year. But we've still got a real challenge at Parkersburg and if we're truly a playoff team, we've got to step up and get this one done.''Arms development
Scott has relied on a three-pronged running attack to get this far, which is holding a 7-1 record and the No. 6 ranking in Class AA.However, coach Shane Griffith realizes that quarterback Cody Brown's progress can make his team even more dangerous come the postseason.In the Skyhawks' last two wins, Brown has been sharp. He hit on 7 of 9 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns against Westside and went 6 of 6 for 86 yards and score versus Herbert Hoover. He's thrown only one interception all season."At the beginning of the season, we knew we had a good car,'' Griffith said. "[Brown] just had to ride in it for a while."Now he's starting to show the ability to drive it and make some plays. That's only going to make us better in the later part of the season. They start to crowd that box and we have some one-on-one matchups out there.''Scott ends the regular season with home games against against Robert C. Byrd (7-1) and Logan (6-2).Platoon perfectionCabell Midland is one of the few teams in the state to platoon its players strictly on either offense or defense, and it seems to be working.The Knights (9-0) are the only remaining unbeaten in AAA and have had relatively few injuries all year. Coach Luke Salmons thinks it's because of the platoon system."I really think it helps playing one way,'' he said. "They're so fresh, and they're not tired. We're still lifting hard during the week. And I think it helps a lot with injuries at the high school level.''Tommy R. Atkinson contributed to this report. Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.