Next Saturday, The Christopher Newport Captains will be at Adams Field to face Ferrum. This game will decide the conference championship, and will send the winner to the NCAA playoffs. Ferrum has not made a trip to the playoffs since 2005. That year, Ferrum put together a great season. They had gone 9-0, with one regular season game left to play. Ferrum had already clinched the conference crown, and while the final regular season game would not jeopardize their conference title, a win would likely make Ferrum a host of their first round playoff game, and give them an undefeated season. Standing in the way of this accomplishment was Christopher Newport. The Captains, who were very accustomed to conference championships, could only sit back and play the roll of the spoiler. This game was an important one for Ferrum, and a victory over the Captains would provide the Panthers with just their second win over CNU since it started football in 2001.
Although the stage was set for Ferrum to be awarded the championship trophy and the automatic bid, their first round playoff game would be played in Delaware. That is because CNU pasted a 44-7 shellacking on the Panthers. Ferrum would face Wesley (DE) in the first round, and things did not go that smooth for Ferrum then either. The Wolverines beat Ferrum 59-14.
In the 5 years since that playoff year, Ferrum has fallen to the Captains in every meeting. In that time, CNU has outscored Ferrum 157-85. The closest game in that time span was a 13-10 loss in Newport News.
You have to go back to 2003 when CNU visited Adams field for the first time to see the only victory Ferrum has collected over the Captains.....Then the #11 ranked Captains. Ferrum never trailed in this game, and came away with a 19-17 win. This lone win was played on November 15 2003, and almost eight years later Ferrum will be looking to achieve its second win over CNU.
While there are many who will contend that CNU has an unfair advantage because it is a State supported school while all other USA South institutions are private, (You will get no argument from me on this point), personally, I do not think that the public / private issue will figure into Saturday's outcome. This year, I think Ferrum and CNU are more evenly matched than certainly in the last five years, and possibly longer.
This year, Ferrum is a strong team that has a focus and a visible will to win. Ferrum is very fast, and has a stable of running backs and receivers that most schools would envy. Marcus Mayo is the spark plug to the Ferrum engine. His abilities, while well documented, leave most defenses exasperated, and Ferrum fans with sore palms from clapping, and a touch of laryngitis from screaming. I believe that Ferrum can and will defeat CNU. They have more weapons than Batman's utility belt, and certainly are becoming quite proficient at using them.
So what does CNU bring to the table?
The Captains will bring a strong running game, and a very good quarterback.
RB's Evan Moog, Markeese Stovall, and Marcus Morrast provide plenty of explosive power in the backfield.
The quarterback situation is a little less clear for CNU. Earlier in the season, starting quarterback Christian Woelfel-Monsivasis was lost to injury, and was replaced by Lyndon Garner. This injury sidelined Woelfel-Monsivasis likely for the remainder of the season. Garner had come in and been very effective for CNU, but he too was injured Saturday in the Captains win over Greensboro. He did not return to the game, and was replaced by Aaron Edwards who completed 6 of 7 passes for 39 yards.
It is not clear who will be under center for the Captains, but you can bet he will be capable.
CNU will also bring an offensive line that averages 286 pounds across.
Defense for the Captains will also be strong, but they seem to have struggled this year stopping the pass. Games against Stevenson, Salisbury, Shenandoah, and to a certain extent Methodist( 2 TD's with less than a min. remaining, but against back ups) has left question marks about the secondary.
Make no mistake, they will be a well prepared defense on Saturday.
Special teams is headlined by placekicker Stephen Denuel, and return specialist Kentel Noel. Noel is always a threat to take one all the way, and led the conference in this category in 2010.
Look for this to be a barn burner, and look for all the stops to be pulled out by both teams to secure the win.
See you Saturday!