Skyhawks preparing for pivotal conference clash

Published 11:39 am Thursday, October 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

After a big win on Saturday over Kentucky Christian, Point University is hoping to carry that momentum back to West Point. 

The Skyhawks face off this Saturday against Bluefield with a noon kickoff. The game will be the first home game for Point in nearly a month. After a dominant 35-0 win last Saturday, the energy and feel around the team has changed. 

“Practice yesterday was definitely better,” Point coach Trevor Zeiders said. 

Email newsletter signup

“I’d hate to say that it was almost palpable, but yet you can feel it. They’re seeming like they’re ready to go, like they want this challenge.” 

Last season, Point’s matchup with Bluefield was one of the tightest games of the season. The Skyhawks lost the matchup 20-14 on the road and finished one spot below the Rams in the conference standings. 

While watching film from last year’s game, Zeiders and the rest of the coaching staff were frustrated by the small mistakes that kept Point from winning that game. 

“We had our opportunities,” Zeiders said. “We’ve gone back through that, we’re trying to figure out exactly what it is that we need to do to get over that hump.” 

Bluefield brings an offense that is averaging 35 points per game this season. The Rams rely heavily on their passing game. Junior quarterback Nathan Herstich has thrown for 1600 yards already this season. 

“If we don’t stop their passing game, it’s going to be a long day for us,” Zeiders said. 

“He’s a little unorthodox in his throwing motion, but he gets rid of the football and his guys make plays. 

The defensive backs are in for the toughest battle this week. In the secondary, the Skyhawks are working on man coverage, zone coverage and combo coverages. Due to Herstich being undersized, Zeiders hopes to be able to close passing windows with the Skyhawks’ size on the defensive line. 

“We’ve got to be able to try and keep him amongst the trees so to speak,” Zeiders said. “If he’s got to look through, around and over our D-line, that’s only going to help us.” 

The Rams have not been nearly as dominant on the defensive side of the ball. Bluefield has allowed nearly 38 points per game on defense. Zeiders believes those numbers are deceiving, and the Rams can present some challenges on defense. 

“They do some good things,” Zeiders said. “They’ve struggled a little bit against the pass, but I don’t know if they’ve struggled because they’ve been up in the majority of their games. Some of it has been they’ve had subs playing later in the game that aren’t as good as their first. I don’t know that all the points and yards that you see are indicative of how good they actually are on defense.” 

Brent White is expected to start again this Saturday. White returned to the field last Saturday after missing a year due to a torn ACL. 

Now, White is playing with a new outlook on the game of football and life. Every snap is a blessing for White because not too long ago he thought he might have thrown his last pass. 

“He’s relishing the opportunity,” Zeiders said. 

“He didn’t even know if he was going to get much time, if any, in his senior season to be able to play the game. He’s just so thankful to have that opportunity.” 

That new outlook has affected the team as a whole. Football, or any sport, is not something that can be taken for granted. 

“He’s just trying to get them to understand that, look, this is a privilege,” Zeiders said. “You don’t always get this opportunity, and this opportunity can be taken away from you at almost any time.” 

White’s ability to get the ball to Emery Bryant and the rest of Point’s playmakers will be instrumental this Saturday, but the ground game will be just as important. The coaching staff is looking to control the game and keep the ball away from the Rams’ offense. 

“We can’t give them the extra opportunities that we’ve been giving everybody else,” Zeiders said. “This is going to be what I consider like a heavyweight fight.”