Champs of the PSAC, West Chester now focusing on playoffs

Matt Leon
November 15, 2018 - 3:38 pm
The West Chester University football team celebrates its PSAC title.

West Chester University Athletics

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A magical season will continue for the West Chester University football team on Saturday when the Golden Rams host New Haven in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

West Chester is 10-0 after winning the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship Game this past Saturday, hammering Slippery Rock on the road, 33-10.

"The kids just came out ready to play," head coach Bill Zwaan said. "I really felt like the kids had great confidence going into that game. They've been playing with great confidence really since early in the season, but I could just feel it after the Lock Haven game that they were ready to play. We practiced well all week long, guys just came out of the locker room ready. Slippery Rock is a good football team, but our guys were not going to back down to them. They stepped their game up and did what they had to do in obviously a huge situation."

Despite a high level of consistent success for the West Chester football program — at least a share of the conference crown 19 times — this was actually the first time the Golden Rams have won the PSAC outright since 1971. 

West Chester had lost its last seven appearances in the conference title game, and from 1988 to 2007 there was no championship game as the winners of the two divisions were named co-champions.  

Zwaan said his group savored the victory.

"It was a great 24 hours," he added. "The kids were just sky high after the game and it was really exciting for them, and I was so happy for them to have done that after all these years.

"Then it's our job (as coaches)," he continued, "come Monday or Sunday to say, 'OK, now we've got playoffs and the second season and this is what we have to do.' We had a great practice (Tuesday), but there was no question that they were sky high for 48 hours and they deserved it."

West Chester is the No. 3 seed in Super Regional One; New Haven is the No. 6 seed. The Chargers are 8-1 and they average 31.3 points a game.

"The quarterback (senior Ajee Patterson) is a big strong guy with a great arm," Zwaan said. "They've got a couple of good receivers and the quarterback has actually been a four-year starter for them, and that's what they rely on. He's their guy and he makes plays for them; been making plays for them all year."

Zwaan said a key in this one will be West Chester's outstanding defense getting pressure on Patterson. While the Golden Rams have 46 sacks for the season, Patterson has only been trapped three times all year.

"He's really strong, so he doesn't go down easy," Zwaan explained. "Even when he is getting hit, he's got a really strong arm, so he can just throw the ball without having to step into it, so he will do that. He will get out of that sack by just throwing the ball away. That's part of the reason for the lack of sacks. But they also have a pretty good offensive line and their scheme allows them to get the ball out quickly."

Saturday's game at Farrell Stadium kicks off at 1 p.m.

You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @MattLeon1060.