Pitt preps fro River Hawks
Trent Johnson | Collegio Writer
It has been nearly three weeks since the Gorillas began preseason camp; the time has come for PSU to start their 2012 football campaign. The Gorillas will begin their season with a conference road game against Northeastern State, located in Tahlequah, Okla. The River Hawks are in their first year in the MIAA, and they will have their work cut out for them as they now play in one of the perennial power conferences in Division II. Northeastern State head coach, Kenny Evans, realizes the road that lies ahead.
“I know what type of conference it is. A lot of people in Division II football compare the MIAA to the SEC,” Evans said. “It’s definitely the toughest conference at this level.”
Playing at home will give the River Hawks a slight edge with home field advantage, but the Gorillas are still expected to leave with a win. The most intriguing thing to watch for Thursday night will be sophomore quarterback, Anthony Abenoja, and how well he fills Zac Dickey’s shoes.
Abenoja has a cannon and can really spin it when he is given time to throw. Abenoja also isn’t lacking big time playmakers to help spark the offense. The return of John Brown, Andrew Castaneda and Briceton Wilson will take pressure off Abenoja early in the season until he gets his feet under him. These players will give the Gorillas an advantage offensively over the River Hawks.
The River Hawks will not have their leading receiver from last season, Tray McVay, because he graduated. They do have an Oklahoma State University transfer at quarterback. Johnny Deaton has limited offensive weapons and will need a career night at Doc Wadley Stadium on Thursday night to upset the number one team in the nation.
On the defensive side of the ball the Gorillas could be one of the nation’s best if they stay healthy. All-American Linebacker Nate Dreiling had 139 tackles last season and he is back for his junior season. The Gorillas’ best pass rusher from 2011, Gus Toca, will also be back. Toca had 11 sacks last season and he will be helped by the arrival of Robert McField. McField played at Fort Scott Community College last season and tallied 11.5 tackles for loss. The duo of
McField and Toca should put enough pressure on Deaton to allow the Pittsburg State cornerbacks to play with safety help, making it difficult for the River Hawks to do much on offense.
The wildcard for the Gorillas will be their special teams unit. Brown is an All-American return specialist and one of the nation’s best wide receivers; the River Hawks will have their hands full trying to contain him. If they make the mistake of kicking to Brown, they will be in trouble. Brown can give the Gorillas great field position and turn it into the type of game the Gorillas want.
The Gorillas first game of the season shouldn’t pose much of a threat. If the River Hawks have any chance of beating the Gorillas, they will have to hold the ball for the majority of the game and chew the clock. If the Gorillas can force the River Hawks into a few quick three-and-outs then the game will turn into a blowout. Expect the Gorillas to come back to Pittsburg with a convincing victory.