By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State University football coach Jason Woodman’s four kids hopped along after practice Wednesday, dressed as Spider-Man, a Transformer, Raggedy Ann and Sully from “Monsters Inc.”
“Trick or treat!” said the football players, towering above at well over 6-feet tall. The costumed-children grabbed fistfuls of candy from the plastic jack-o-lanterns that they lugged around the facility and plopped the snacks into the players’ hands.
When Fairmont States hosts West Virginia Wesleyan at 7 p.m. today for a Halloween matchup at Duvall-Rosier Field, the Falcons hope for an even better treat: a win.
But to get it, the Falcons will need to do a whole lot more than simply put on an outfit and ask for handouts.
Fairmont State (2-5, 1-5 Mountain East Conference) enters the game on short rest after its most lopsided loss of the season Saturday, a 41-5 blowout at Urbana. The loss was the Falcons’ third in a row and fifth in the last six games.
Keeping with the Halloween theme, how’s this for a terrifying stat: When the Falcons take the field on the last day of October, they will be trying to win for the first time in the month. They have not won a game since their 56-3 rout of West Virginia State on Sept. 28.
“That hurts when you say it like that,” said running back Dawrence Roberts.
Woodman said the only way to get back on track is to keep grinding.
“The only thing I know to do is to keep working harder,” he said. “That’s just me and my makeup. That’s how I was raised. When you face adversity, you need to work harder and do your best to fix it.”
The defense isn’t the problem. The unit has consistently been a strong point for the Falcons, who rank 22nd in the nation in total defense.
But on the other side of the ball, you can forget ghosts; The offense is the one that’s been invisible, scoring just a field goal last week.
“Our offense hasn't been in-sync since probably week three,” Woodman admitted. “At times last week it was downright bad. We just haven't been on the same page offensively.”
Running back Daniel Monroe, who missed the first five games with a knee injury, said the Falcons need to forget their previous shortcomings.
“What’s done is done. We can’t control that,” said Monroe, who is expected to play for the third straight week. “We’ve got to keep moving forward as a team and more importantly as a program. We’re trying to establish a program and build a dynasty.”
It will help the Falcons somewhat that they will see a similar defense for the second time in six days. Both Urbana and West Virginia Wesleyan run a 3-3 odd stack defense.
While the scheme isn’t common, it is a bit of a break that the Falcons had a bye week before Urbana and now play two teams back-to-back that employ the formation.
“It’s easier on our staff to not have to completely reintroduce a new defense in three days,” Woodman said. “That’s a plus. We just kind of got lucky with the schedule that it worked out that way.”
West Virginia Wesleyan (3-5, 3-4 MEC), meanwhile, won’t need much luck offensively. The Bobcats’ potent passing offense ranks second in the MEC with more than 290 yards per game through the air.
The unit is quarterbacked by Jeremy Musselman, who has more than 2,000 passing yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He’ll throw to a variety of targets, including freshman Zach Shademan, who was named MEC offensive player of the week after snagging eight balls for 208 yards.
“Their record does not indicate how good they are on offense,” Woodman said. “They're in-sync, they'll play fast and they're impressive on offense. We'll have to be prepared and ready to go.”
NOTES: Monroe admitted that he is just 75 to 80 percent and doesn’t expect to be 100 percent this season. "I would lying if I said I was 100 percent. But I can play. It's just been getting better and better," he said. ... Woodman revealed that wide receiver Chris St. Hilaire (foot), DB Dominik Mensah (concussion), starting left guard Tyler Burch (concussion), starting right guard Nick Shrader (knee) and running back Shad Alexander (knee) will all be out for the remainder of the season. ... Former Fairmont Senior standout Trevor Malnick will also be out this week with an undisclosed injury. “It just seems like it's contagious at times,” Woodman said. “It’s not just here, but in general. When you get a couple guys hurt, it seems like it’s just a bug that catches you. We’ve been unlucky big time.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.