Sept. 30, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE - All isn't lost for the Fayetteville State football team.
CIAA setbacks by Shaw, Johnson C. Smith and St. Augustine's have muddled the Western Division while making one thing clear.
If the Broncos win their remaining games, they'll play for the CIAA Championship on Nov. 7 in Durham.
"The season isn't over because you have one loss in conference," head coach Kenny Phillips said during his weekly press conference on Wednesday. "We can still accomplish our goals."
The first step on that road begins Saturday when FSU (2-3, 1-1 CIAA) travels to Chowan (0-5, 0-2 CIAA). Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and fans can view a live web cast of the game at www.fsubroncos.com.
"Everybody looks at their record, but I'm going to tell you what, they're a very impressive team on film," Phillips said of Chowan. "Their quarterback (C.J. Westler) is tearing this league up. We've got to, as a defensive football team, figure out how we're going to keep that guy under control if we're going to have a chance to win the football game."
Westler leads the CIAA in passing yards per game, total offense, completions, total passing yards and touchdown passes.
Against Elizabeth City State on Sept. 19, Westler completed 28-of-48 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 152 yards on 21 carries.
"The biggest challenge for our defense is to try and keep him under control," said Philips. "He's a heck of a football player. He's probably one of the toughest competitors in this league. He gets up off the ground and he doesn't ever seem to slow down. I call him the Energizer bunny."
Both of FSU's wins this season have come on the road - a 30-20 win over Bowie State and a 24-0 victory at Saint Paul's.
In those games the Broncos are allowing just 216.5 yards of offense per game.
"Going into the Saint Paul's game I challenged them as a defensive coach," Phillips said. "They've responded very well to the challenge the last two football games."
Against Virginia State on Saturday, FSU allowed only 95 yards of total offense and nine yards passing.
Since 2007, Phillips' unit is 9-4 away from Jeralds Stadium and has won four of its last five road contests.
"When you go on the road you have your football team together Friday night and all day Saturday," said Phillips. "A lot of teams play a lot better on the road than they do at home. When we go on the road we spend a little bit more time as a football team. It's a little bit different atmosphere on the road than it is at home."
This week in practice Phillips said he and his coaching staff stressed putting the gut-wrenching 25-20 loss to VSU behind them.
"You can't sit and dwell on a loss on Saturday night for three days in practice," said Phillips. "You've got to get that out of your system and get out there and start working on the team you have to play this week."
Under Phillips, FSU is 17-16 after a loss.
"When you look at your football team, you're not as bad off as your team looks," said Phillips. "I said it in a staff meeting yesterday, we're probably one of the best 2-3 football teams in the country right now."