By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
After a tough loss against the University of Virginia Wise last weekend, the West Liberty Hilltoppers are hoping to find a solid rhythm as they head into the middle of their season. After starting the season 2-2, the Toppers have struggled to maintain momentum toward a win streak. They hope to begin that streak tonight on the hilltop.
Tonight, the WLU Hilltoppers (2-2, 2-2 MEC) will host the Notre Dame College Falcons (3-1, 3-1 MEC) at West Family Stadium. After losing their first game of the season to nationally-ranked and Division II powerhouse Shepherd University, the Falcons have cruised to a three-win streak and are currently tied for second in the Mountain East Conference standings. The Toppers, however, hope to end one streak and start one of their own.
The Toppers and Falcons have only faced off a total of four times, and the Toppers have yet to take a win; last year, the Toppers fell to the Falcons 14-30 in South Euclid, Ohio. Although the Toppers are winless against the College of Notre Dame, the team has an array of talent that can help push them to victory.
First-year starter junior Brenton Colabella has played extremely well in his first year as a starter. Through his first three games, he threw for over four-hundred yards, three touchdowns and completed nearly 70-percent of his passes. Colabella struggled last week against Virginia Wise, however, as he threw for just 87 yards and gave up three interceptions. If he can find his rhythm again, the Toppers can surely win some games.
However, look for other receivers to step their game up in the next few games. Senior running back Jeremiah Ortiz leads the team on the ground with 58 rushes for 304 yards, but is still searching for that first touchdown.
The Topper’s defensive unit has been solid as well, behind the lead of junior linebacker Clifford Clark. Like last season, Clark is leading the team in tackles with 29. Sophomore defensive back Logan Deri is second with 23 tackles, but has intercepted one pass as well.
Do not let WLU’s record against the Notre Dame College Falcons disillusion you. The Hilltoppers are still a promising team with tremendous talent. The Toppers look to prove that tonight.
You can watch the game on WLU-TV channel 14 or through the online stream at hilltoppersports.com. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Photo credits: Savanna Sieger and Megan Sayre