|Kam Smith, CIAA Offensive Player of The Year, hopes to lead WSSU to its second consecutive CIAA title. (WSSU Photo)|
Coming into the 2012 season, no HBCU team was hotter than Winston-Salem State. Fresh off the heels of a 2011 season in which they finished 12-1 and went to the Division II finals, the Rams were at an all-time high. They entered the season ranked in the top 10 of virtually every D2 poll, and appeared to be a legit contender for the D2 National Championship.
Then they opened the season by eeking out a 28-23 win over UNC Pembroke after coach Connell Maynor told members of the media would win by at least two touchdowns. The next week they found themselves in a dogfight against Concord (WV). There were whispers that maybe the team had taken a step back after losing key starters like running back Nic Cooper and Akeem Ward.
Two months later, the Rams are still the talk of HBCU football. Only the question is whether or not they can be as good as last year, it’s whether or not they’re better than last year. Earlier this week, Winston-Salem Journal reporter John Dell raised the question whether this year’s squad is the best ever in the CIAA.
Now 10-0, the Rams will face off against Elizabeth City State on Saturday in an attempt to officially obtain the title of CIAA Champion. The game will be played at Durham County Stadium.
Not only have the Rams skated through the season undefeated, they haven’t even been challenged in most of their games. They’ve outscored CIAA opponents 350-94 this season, despite senior QB Kam Smith not playing in any of the the fourth quarters during conference opponents.
The only question now is, can the Rams stay focused enough to realize their potential. Last week the Rams found themselves in a rare CIAA dogfight, as they were tied 6-6 with Fayetteville State at halftime. They finally turned it on in the second half, and came away with a 41-8 win.
They will face a Viking squad that started 3-3 before coming on late to win their last four games in a row. If being a major underdog wasn’t enough motivation, they will also be looking to redeem themselves from a defeat in last year’s championship game.
ECSU’s late season surge is a nice story, but if the Rams come prepared mentally, Smith won’t have to play in the fourth quarter of this one either.
Final Score: WSSU 41, ECSU 14.
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