By Matt Leon
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — There are few college teams in the area playing better football right now than Division II West Chester, as they get ready to travel to East Stroudsburg for a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference match-up on Saturday.
The 4-1 Golden Rams (2-0 in the PSAC) have won four straight, the latest a very impressive 37-34 win on the road at then #6 California (PA).
“I just felt like our kids were ready to play,” head coach Bill Zwaan tells KYW Newsradio. “They certainly weren’t awed by Cal, or by playing against Cal. We’ve played Cal in the past with some pretty good teams, and played them really well. But I just felt like our team’s playing really well right now. When I watched them on film I thought, ‘We’re certainly as good as this team.’ And our kids went out and performed and it was a great win for us.”
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If you want to look at the flashpoint of the Golden Rams season to this point, you need to go back to their second game against Gannon. After playing Delaware tough, but losing in their opener, the Golden Rams led most of the way against the Golden Knights. But Gannon grabbed the lead late in the third quarter. West Chester then answered late in the fourth quarter with a stirring drive that ended with a go-ahead touchdown and they haven’t looked back since.
“That drive, not only for confidence of the team but confidence for (quarterback) Mike Mattei, because Mike was struggling that day and he came out and made some big plays on the last (scoring) drive,” Zwaan says. “From our standpoint, in the couple years prior to this year, we did not come back and win those type of games. So for the team to feel good about the idea that, hey, we can come back and win that game, that was huge. But really for Mike himself, for his confidence, and for him to make the plays we needed to win the game, I think that really has shot him into the area he’s playing right now. Which is just really as an all-conference quarterback right now.”
The numbers back up Zwaan’s assessment of Mattei. Since taking over for the injured Sean McCartney in the opener against Delaware, Mattei has completed 62 percent of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
As for East Stroudsburg, they are 2-2 in 2012 and Zwaan says they will definitely challenge his defense.
“Just like usual, very good offensive players. Good offensive scheme and they can score from anywhere and they can do it fast. So it’s not like any lead is safe, you gotta keep playing hard, you gotta make sure you’re putting points on the board. They give up some points, too, so we feel like we can score. But this is going to be a tough opponent. They are always tough up there.”
West Chester beat East Stroudsburg at home last season, 37-26.
The two teams will kick-off on Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.