West Virginia State football coach John Pennington will look across Lakin Field on Saturday and see a familiar face on the sideline. Rewind a few years, and he and the face he’ll see once tread the same sideline.
The Yellow Jackets host Glenville State at 1 p.m., and the new offensive line coach for the Pioneers is Rick Trickett, the former offensive line coach at West Virginia, LSU, Auburn and Florida State. When Trickett coached for the Mountaineers from 2001-06, Pennington spent from 2001-04 as a Mountaineer wide reciever.
And he can see Trickett’s influence on the Pioneers’ front five already.
“It’s crazy how you can see Rick Trickett when you watch the film,” Pennington said, “the way they play zone, the way they play with an edge. Obviously, he’s one of the greatest of all time and a legend in the profession.”
There’s another Florida State connection for the Pioneers (1-0, 1-0 Mountain East) in running back Mario Pender. Pender led Glenville in the Pioneers’ win over Alderson Broaddus last week with 83 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Darnell Jackson added 69 yards on 18 carries and Thomas Boles added 39 yards on eight carries.
“They ran the ball 52 times, and his backups are just as good,” Pennington said. “They’ve got three really good backs.”
For WVSU’s home opener, Pennington would love to see the same fortitude he got from the Yellow Jackets (1-0, 1-0 MEC) in last week’s 20-17 win over Frostburg State, but some better execution. State fell behind 17-8 in the third quarter but rallied for 12 unanswered points to earn the win.
“The one thing we did really well was handle the adversity and the ups and downs of a first game,” Pennington said. “There was never any finger-pointing and there was nothing but belief and encouragement on our sideline, which I thought was a testament to our leadership and how far the program had come.”
State got a balanced day from the offense (281 yards passing, 236 yards rushing) and an MEC Defensive Player of the Week performance from linebacker Dustin Crouser (14 tackles, one for a loss). But it also fumbled on the Frostburg 1-yard line, was stopped on fourth down on the Frostburg 3 and gave up a 38-yard touchdown pass on third down.
“Overall execution was good, but there was just too many big mistakes,” Pennington said. “We can’t give three touchdowns away and expect to beat a lot of good football teams.”
Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.