Football season offers diverse lineup |

Football season offers diverse lineup

The region’s college football landscape is taking on a slightly different shape, even though the usual cast of schools remain a part of the national rankings.

And the changes, subtle as they may be, are good, especially when it comes to measuring the level of interest in the district’s 24 small-college programs, because not all seasons take on as intriguing a look as this one.

Just last weekend, Pitt was upset by Toledo, and West Virginia and Penn State, as well as Division I-AA Youngstown State, labor in mediocrity early on after enjoying extended success at various recent times, and a handful of smaller usually successful programs also are faced with uphill battles.

Slippery Rock and Clarion are off to slow starts in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, West Liberty State in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Allegheny in the North Coast Athletic Conference and Westminster (Pa.) in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

But one school which hasn’t missed a step since being badly beaten by eventual Division II champion Grand Valley State in last season’s playoffs is perennial power Indiana (Pa.).

The Indians are ranked No. 4 in the coaches’ poll and could be headed for a No. 1 spot when the Northeast Region playoff rankings are released next month.

They can point to the presence of running back Mike Jemison, the Pitt transfer who has rushed for at least 100 yards in his first three games with IUP, as a big reason for their success. Quarterback Kevin Weidl, a question mark when the year began, is finding his niche in the Indians’ high-powered offense, while the defense nearly recorded its second consecutive shutout for the first time since 1991 in a 28-7 victory over New Haven.

There is near-unbearable heat coming from Shippensburg, which has scored impressive victories over Shepherd and Bloomsburg — both nationally ranked at the time — and is trying to match IUP’s prowess by climbing to No. 14.

Running back John Kuhn gained at least 100 yards rushing in his 11th consecutive game dating to last season in Shippensburg’s 35-12 victory over Kutztown.

The teams won’t meet until Nov. 1 in Indiana in what could have a huge bearing on the Northeast Region playoff picture.

Washington & Jefferson, in its first season since the departure of former coach John Banaszak, is at No. 16 in the Division III poll. The Presidents, who have won 17 of the past 18 Presidents’ Athletic Conference crowns and have been to the national playoffs in 15 of the past 18 years, have won their first two games under first-year coach Mike Sirianni.

At an uncharacteristic 1-2, Duquesne remains one of the top threats in the nation among Division I-AA mid-majors. The Dukes’ two losses have come to schools from stronger conferences than the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, of which Duquesne has won four consecutive titles.

They dropped a seven-point decision at Bucknell, of the Patriot League, in their opener, and were beaten badly by Penn, the defending Ivy League champion, over the weekend.

But because the majority of Duquesne’s remaining games are against weaker MAAC opponents, it is likely that its final record will wind up respectable, at worst.

Mercyhurst is beginning to show signs of resurgence under second-year coach Marty Schaetzle. The D-II Lakers won their first two games by decisive margins and gave an impressive effort in a 26-3 loss to No. 6 Saginaw Valley State last weekend.

Edinboro also could experience a breakthrough under fourth-year coach Lou Tepper. Victories the past two weeks followed a respectable 35-11 loss to Youngstown State in the opener. Stability at quarterback — finally — has been a key to Edinboro’s season thusfar, as sophomore Justin Bouch is 38 of 65 (58.5 percent) passing.

Gannon, in its final season of D-II independence before joining the GLIAC next year, has rolled to a 3-1 record behind the running and passing of quarterback Darmel Whitfield.

Allegheny’s situation is much like Duquesne’s. The D-III Gators, past national champions, are 0-2 but have been beaten by No. 19 Baldwin-Wallace and by W&J.

Thiel, at 1-1, is an unlikely darkhorse in the PAC, and Carnegie Mellon, of the University Athletic Association, is off to a 3-0 start.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.