Cal makes QB change for West Chester
Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
California's quarterback Cody Schroeder passes during the first quarter of the game against Edinboro.
Something will be different when California University’s football team travels to West Chester Saturday for a PSAC crossover game.
The Vulcans will have a new starter at quarterback.
James Harris, who relieved Cody Schroeder in last week’s 20-7 loss to Indiana, will make his first collegiate start when the Vulcans (3-1) take on the 17th-ranked Rams (4-0), who are coming off a 22-21 win over Kutztown. Kickoff is at noon.
“They have been close in practice,” said Cal head coach Mike Kellar. “Cody did nothing to lose the job. James has just been having good practices, and we think he deserves an opportunity. Maybe the change at quarterback will give us a different look, a different feel.”
Schroeder threw three interceptions against Indiana, two of them in the end zone, which prompted Kellar to send in Harris on the last series of the first half. Schroeder and Harris finished with similar stats: Schroeder went 8-for-16 for 79 yards, no touchdowns and the three interceptions. Harris was 5-for-13 for 52 yards and two interceptions.
“Cody had one of his best practices this week,” Kellar said. “So why did we do it now? It’s important for (Harris) to get snaps. It’s a play-time thing. Our offense is used to a certain cadence. The more reps James gets, the better off he will be.”
Both are 6-2 sophomores. Schroeder comes from Avon, Ohio, and Harris from Woodstock, Ga. Schroeder had four starts last season when Peter Lallich developed a staph infection in his leg. Harris is a transfer from Wake Forest and did not play last season.
“We knew going into the season that we had a veteran group of receivers,” said Kellar. “Just about everywhere else, we have new faces.”
Kellar shifted Jeff Knox and Derrick Fiore from defensive back to tailback, but the results have been luke warm. Both are averaging under 3.0 yards a carry. Opposing defenses are not respecting the run.
“We have good players,” Kellar said. “Offenses take time to gel. No matter how good you practice, you need game reps.”
West Chester has the third-ranked defense in the PSAC behind Slippery Rock and Indiana. Quarterback Sean McCartney has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,146 yards and 12 touchdowns. Rondell White has rushed for 619 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 256 yards and two TDs.
“White is as good a back as we’ll see all year,” said Kellar. “He’s a hard runner and an elusive guy. Their quarterback is mobile and can make all the throws.”
The road show continues for Washington & Jefferson College’s football team.
The Presidents hit the road for the third time in four weeks when they go to Bethany for a PAC game. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
W&J (2-0, 3-1) is coming off a 32-19 win over Thiel, while Bethany (1-0, 1-3) won its first game last week, 34-31, over Grove City.
Quarterback Matt Bliss is questionable while recovering from a sprained MCL sustained in Week 2 against St. John Fisher. Pete Coughlan, a graduate of Upper St. Clair, will start if Bliss can’t.
“Pete gives us more of a running attack, because he can run the football,” said W&J head coach Mike Sirianni. “Our doctors told us Bliss could play so we put him in. This week, it’s going to be how mobile he is? How much he is able to run. We can’t replace Matt throwing the ball downfield.”
Bethany boasts one of the top quarterbacks in the conference in Matt Grimard, who is on pace to pass for 3,300 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“He is the best passer in the conference and might be the best player,” said Sirianni. “I would throw in (W&J wide receiver Alex Baroffio) and (Thomas More’s Domonique Hayden). He’s an unbelievable player.”
The much-maligned W&J defense has been giving up nearly 300 passing yards per game and 470 per game. Grimard is sure to test the secondary with deep routs.
“We have to be disciplined enough to not give that up,” said Sirianni. “They throw a lot; we throw a lot. This game could take 4 1/2 hours to play.”
Waynesburg University (1-1, 3-1) is looking to rebound from last week’s loss to Thomas More when Thiel pays a visit Saturday in a PAC game. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.
Thiel, coming off a 32-19 loss to Washington & Jefferson last week, is winless.
Quarterback Carter Hill is having a great season for the Yellow Jackets with 1,170 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Bernie Thompson, coming off a nine-reception effort against Thomas More, is turning into Hill’s go-to guy. Thompson has 22 catches for 310 yards and all but one has come in the past three games.
Thiel’s offense has been fairly strong, averaging 23 points and 338 total yards per game.