Not every big football game will be played at the Division I level this weekend as there are several big Division II matchups on the slate as well.
But if you are looking for what could be the game of the week, look no further than the Division III level where No. 13 Waynesburg (9-0, 7-0) and Washington and Jefferson (7-2, 6-1) will fight it out for the President’s Athletic Conference crown.
Both team’s come in on a hot streak as the Yellow Jackets are looking to cap off a perfect 10-0 regular season for the first time in
school history. Waynesburg can also win the PAC championship for the first time since 2003.
The Presidents visit John F. Wiley Stadium possibly playing their best football of the season, defeating Geneva last Saturday to win their third straight game.
W&J had some bumps in the road during the season but have rebounded after the sudden death of running back Tim McNerney and have put themselves in position to win their first PAC title since 2007.
W&J has dominated this series, holding a 36-3 edge and has won every game since 2004, but haven’t faced a Yellow Jackets team this talented in quite some time. The Waynesburg squad comes in ranked 18th in the recent D3football.com Top 25 Rankings and No. 13 in the recent AFCA rankings.
It’s strength vs. strength Saturday afternoon as the W&J offense, which averages 366 yards per game faces the tough Yellow Jackets defense, which leads the conference in points allowed, giving up a mere 16 per contest.
For the Presidents to come into Waynesburg and leave with the PAC championship, a lot will ride on the shoulders of quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa.). Bliss has been able to move the W&J offense as the Presidents rank second in the PAC in first downs per game (22.2), but he has thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (nine) on the season.
But the Presidents have weapons all over the field, including wide reciever Alex Baroffio (63 receptions) and running back Dion Wiegand, who has filled in nicely after McNerney’s passing, rushing for 547 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.
Taking care of the football and finishing drives is something head coach Mike Sirianni must preach, but things won’t come easy against the Waynesburg defensive unit.
W&J has a pretty good defense as well, but the Yellow Jackets will test them out on the ground. Waynesburg comes in averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground and the combination of Bertrand Ngampa and Dominic Moore have combined for close to 1,400 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns.
Since taking over for Tyler Fatigante (shoulder injury) at quarterback, Carter Hill has completed 57 percent of his passes for 662 yards, but the strength of the Yellow Jackets is pounding the football. Considering the Presidents have allowed 145.7 yards per game up front, it very well could come down to who wins the battle of the trenches.
Controlling the tempo will be big for each team, as will be eliminating mistakes. The team who does that will be heading to the Division III playoffs.
While I like the story of the Presidents winning for McNerney, this just seems like the Jackets year. Playing at home, on senior day against a quarterback who has a tendency to turn the football over, everything points to a Waynesburg conference championship.
But don’t take my word for it. This is a must see game.