LOCK HAVEN - The Lock Haven University Road Warriors will bring their road show home for the first time this season when they host Edinboro in a PSAC-West game Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Hubert Jack Stadium.
After logging a lot of miles on the highways to The Bronx (Fordham University), East Stroudsburg and Indiana (Pa.), it will be the first chance of the season for the Bald Eagles to play on their home turf.
"Playing in front of the home crowd will be great," LHU head coach John Allen said. "The University is planning a great event with Community Day. Our captains, cheerleaders, and myself started 'Rally in the Dorms' to create a connection and excitement with our students on campus (which I hope becomes tradition), and our team is prepping for a great game. There is nothing like playing at home, with the excitement of our students, our community and fans. We are really looking forward to Saturday."
Going into the game, both teams are winless, the Bald Eagles at 0-3 and the Fighting Scots 0-2. But you have to be careful when that is all you look at because both of Edinboro's losses have been to nationally ranked teams in California (PA) and Bloomsburg.
"We are going to be playing a good football team, but the bottom line is that you have to still go out and play the game," Allen said. "We played three good football teams so we know how to do that now. As I told our guys, I overheard one of the IUP players saying to his teammates to be careful to not play down to our level. What I told our kids was they need to come to play at our level and that is the type of mentality you need to have if you are going to be successful, especially against the good teams."
Success can be a powerful thing in the world of sports.
To have it is great; not realizing it while working your tails off trying to get there can be really frustrating. That is where the Lock Haven University football team is heading into its fourth game of the season, especially on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.
"I would say that is probably the case a little bit on the offensive side of the ball," Allen said. "I think that frustration comes from not being able to finish drives because we have had some pretty good drives at times, but just haven't been able to finish them."
But regardless of what frustration might exist, Allen feels that his team understands where they are in terms of development.
"I think all in all as a team, we understand where we are right now," Allen said. "I think we also understand how and in what areas we need to get better that has put us in the position we are in at this point in time. For them (the players) they can see positives as far as where we need to go. Obviously I think we are all frustrated a little bit, but we all know what we have to do to get better and we are working hard to do that."
In the loss to IUP, the Bald Eagles only trailed 7-0 at halftime before watching the Crimson Hawks score 35 unanswered points in the second half. One of the biggest plays that led to that turnaround was a kickoff return for a score by IUP to open the second half.
"Big plays on special teams can change the momentum in a hurry," Allen said. "You can't deny that doesn't happen, especially when one of them goes for a touchdown. What you have to be able to do, especially as a young team, you have to be able to rebound from that situation. You have to remind yourself that you can't change the play. You have to ask yourself what could I or should I have done better and then move on to the next play. Those are the things you have to learn when you are a young football team that is learning how to grow and eventually how to win."
In facing Edinboro, the Bald Eagles will have to be ready for just about anything in terms of what the Fighting Scots will do.
"They have a good quarterback who can throw it so they throw the ball around quite a bit, but he can also run," Allen said. "I think defensively we have to contain their quarterback through the course of the game, not letting him get big plays. The big key will be keeping things up front, keep him in the pocket and pressuring him. They are a sound football team and they play hard. They have been hit by some big plays the last couple of weeks that have put them in bad situations."
None of the current LHU players have had the excitement of playing in a winning game at the collegiate level. Although one might think that is a morale buster, Allen doesn't feel that is the way his troops look at it.
"These kids are so resilient. They really are," Allen said. "We had a very good practice the other day and they are still flying around to the football. They want to learn what it takes to win so what we (coaches) have tried to do is break it down into smaller areas rather than looking at the bigger picture. Let's be the best we can be on each play and win each play. Defensively in the IUP game, there were signs of that happening. After their first drive, we played the best we have played in the two years I have been here. Offensively we had spurts, but we have to get better by becoming more consistent. Right now, our focus is to get better on each and every play."
Three games into the season, with only one player (right tackle Bradin Carter) definitely out of the game and just a few others with bumps and bruises, Allen feels his troops are in pretty good physical shape.
"He (Carter) got rolled up on the ankle last week and he will miss this week, but we hope to have him back next week," Allen said. "Other than that, we are in pretty good shape."