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Numbers no friends to Musselman's plans

November 11, 1999|By MARK KELLER / Sports Editor

INWOOD, W.Va. - This wasn't the game that Denny Price was expecting in the first round of the playoffs.

Without a game in the final week of the season, the Musselman football coach dispatched his staff to two games last weekend to scout the possible opponents.

The teams scouted: John Marshall and Keyser. The Applemen's first-round opponent: George Washington.

"That seems to happen every year," Price said. "The (West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Association) missed a bonus point from Allegany (Md.) that didn't show up until last week. That threw off the numbers a bit."

So the Applemen (9-1) will have to rely strictly on watching film of George Washington in order to prepare for tonight's game at Waldeck Field.

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"You can't judge a team's speed as well from film as you can if you see them in person," Price said. "Those kind of intangibles ... getting a feel for how a team plays and reacts. You don't always get that from the film."

Speaking of reactions, there's the Musselman crowd. The Applemen always fill the stands for home games, and with the season on the line in the playoffs, fans young and old will surely turn out to cheer on their team.

"We like that first week at home," Price said. "That's the plan going into the playoffs, because it definitely helps you to play at home. Plus, with the fans we have here ... you can't beat playing at home."

In George Washington, the Applemen will get a look at a passing team for the first time this season.

GW quarterback Pete Ambrose has thrown for 1,786 yards this season. Receiver John Pennington has 66 catches for 1,118 yards.

"It's definitely going to be a test for our secondary," Price said. "They're probably the most improved part of our defense since the start of the year. We know they're great on run support. Now we get to see how we do against the pass."

Still, if he had his choice, Price would prefer not to see how his secondary does. He'd rather his big linemen flush Ambrose out of the pocket and keep the ball in his hand.

"He has the guys who can catch the football. If we can keep pressure on him and keep him from finding those guys downfield, that'll make our jobs easier," Price said.

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