Saturday Night Lights to Shine for Wheeling, West Liberty
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The Saturday Night Lights come on at West Family Stadium this weekend when West Liberty hosts Wheeling in a battle for sole possession of second place in the Mountain East Conference North Division.
Kickoff between the Ohio County rivals is set for 6 p.m.
Both teams are coming off impressive road wins against Alderson Broaddus in their most recent outings.
The Cardinals (1-1) haven't played since blasting the Battlers, 34-6, in a Thursday night game on March 18.
Coach Roger Waialae's Hilltoppers (1-1) barreled their way to a 38-6 blowout win in Philippi on Saturday. West Liberty raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and went on to rack up well over 400 yards of total offense with 242 of that coming on the ground.
Senior TB Quincy Wimbish rushed for a career-high 135 yards while true freshman QB Jamie Diven completed 11-of-16 passes for 131 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions in his first collegiate start.
"We wound up running the ball a lot more than expected," Waialae said, "but we were playing well up front and Quincy and the other backs took advantage of that. Jamie was very impressive in his first college start and I thought all three of our quarterbacks did well.
"Jamie really didn't look like a freshman. He took care of the football, showed excellent poise and command and did a good job getting us out of bad plays at the line. He's still coming back from a serious non-football injury from last summer so we're all pretty happy for him."
West Liberty needed a last-minute touchdown to pull out a 33-30 win at Wheeling in the Cardinals' collegiate football debut a year ago. After watching game tape from WU's first two games of the season, Waialae believes this year's Wheeling squad presents even more challenges.
"There's no question they are the most improved team in our conference," Waialae said. "The skill and speed really stand out – especially their offensive skill guys. Coach (Zac) Bruney and his staff really have them playing well in all three phases of the game."
Attendance for Saturday's game will be limited due to safe competition protocols. West Liberty’s on-campus athletic events are closed to the general public this spring but parents from both teams will be admitted with photo ID. All COVID safety protocols will be enforced with masks and social distancing required. No tailgating in any form will be permitted.
The Hilltoppers are tentatively scheduled to close out their abbreviated 2021 spring schedule at home against Frostburg State on April 17 but all spring sports schedules are subject to change.