Four games into the 2007 football season Fairmont State’s football team finds itself at a bit of a crossroads.

The Falcons are 2-2 overall, but 0-2 and tied for last place in the eight-team West Virginia Conference with winless Concord University.

FSU’s offense has been stymied each of the last two weeks by Shepherd and West Virginia State, the top two defensive squads in the league. As a result the Falcons have dropped two in a row and find themselves ranked last in the conference in total offense (200.2 yards per game), scoring offense (10.2 points per game) and rushing offense (67.8 yards per game).

Looming ahead on FSU’s schedule the next three weeks is a trio of talented, dangerous opponents including Glenville State (which knocked off Shepherd earlier this season), West Liberty (who is off to a 3-1 start and leads the WVC in scoring and total offense) and the University of Charleston (a 4-1 team which currently leads the WVC standings with a perfect 2-0 record).

Saturday after 18th-ranked Shepherd paid a visit to Duvall-Rosier Field and cruised to a 31-10 victory, its seventh in a row in the series between the schools, there was a serene feeling in the air outside of the FSU locker room.

“We lost a football game. We’re gonna be okay,” said first-year Fairmont coach Mike Lopez.

Lopez is a fiery competitor who doesn’t like to lose, but Saturday perhaps it was he, more than anyone else, who provided his team with a calming view for the future.

“We know we’ve got more good teams in front of us we have to play, but we’re going to be fine,” said senior offensive guard Kyle Robinette. “We need to keep our heads up, keep working hard in practice and play the type of football we know we can play. We really control our own destiny now.”

Robinette is correct.

The Falcons have seven games remaining on their schedule and despite some hard-hitting injuries (the most serious of which was suffered last week in practice by All-American cornerback Andre Pope who is now lost for the season with a fractured hip socket) Fairmont will determine its future by the way it plays in the coming weeks.

“With the group of guys we have on this team and the leaders that we have I can say I haven’t heard too many negatives,” said senior defensive end Jacob Owens. “Shepherd is a good football team and they beat us. The (West Virginia) State game we didn’t show up. That was our fault.

“We know we’ve got tough teams ahead of us with Glenville, West Liberty and Charleston. The big thing we need to do right now is sit down among ourselves and ask the question — ‘What type of football team do we want to be the rest of the year?’”

The answer should be one that remains positive and begins executing as well as it can in all three phases of the game.

“The biggest thing for us is to stay positive,” said senior inside linebacker Vince Black. “We can’t hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves. That’s the last thing we need to do.

“This league is a funny league and strange things can happen. Glenville knocked off Shepherd and then Seton Hill turned around and beat Glenville. It’s early, it’s still up for grabs, but if we’re going to be in the mix we have to play better in all areas and do our best to finish strong.”

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