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Edmondson set to tangle in the alleys

August 19, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Todd Edmondson's becoming a playground bully.

He isn't bouncing kids for lunch money or pulling pigtails. But still, Shepherd University's linebacker is turning into the guy no one wants to meet in a dark alley.

In fact, the darker and the tighter the alley, the better he likes it.

"My idea of a perfect play is for the line to have an alley open up for me to go into the hole and make the hit," Edmondson said. "I love alleys and gaps and getting big hits for losses."

Edmondson got the chance to earn his reputation last year when the Rams ran the West Virginia Conference table, finishing undefeated in conference play and winning the title. He was in the middle of a defense which allowed 12 points a game in conference play and isn't looking for things to change much.

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"I like being in the middle of it all, but it's a team thing," said Edmondson, a team captain. "I'll be moving around. Right now, we are on a seven-game win streak in the conference and we are looking to make it eight."

WVC coaches seem to agree the Rams are the team to beat in the 2005 season. Shepherd was voted to defend its league title with six of eight first-place votes.

Edmondson accounted for 76 tackles, including nine for losses, last season, which earned him all-conference special honorable mention honors. It might only get better for the junior as the alleys he will be filling might be a lot shorter because of his surrounding cast.

Edmondson will be playing in front of a strong secondary, led by Division II preseason All-American Dustin Dudinski and Dan Peters, which will limit the need for Edmondson to drop in deep pass coverage and keep him looking for his beloved hits for losses.

"With Peters and Dudinski coming back, I can play heavier for the run," Edmondson said. "I'll be able to sneak around on pass plays and look for the interception. My first step will be forward, though, looking for sticks."

Edmondson grabbed a crucial interception last year which helped Shepherd post a 20-14 victory over Glenville.

While the conference title is high on Shepherd's list of goals, returning to the national playoffs is almost as important. The Rams missed out on a bid last season by going 7-3, winning all the WVC games but losing all three independent games.

Any aspirations to reach the national spotlight starts Aug. 27 when Shepherd hosts Virginia State in its opener, a team which left a bad taste in the Rams' mouths that only got worse as the season wore on.

Virginia State hung a 13-8 loss on Shepherd to open last season, with the Rams scoring all of their points in the second half. But they were hurt most by the one that got away. Shepherd drove down for a first-and-goal at the 9 and failed to score.

"It was tough for us as a team last season," Edmondson said. "We had meshed as a team in our last game and we didn't go to the playoffs. The Virginia State game when we were there on the inch-line and didn't score got into our heads."

Playing well from the start, before starting the WVC title defense, would be right up Edmondson's alley.

"The way we are looking at it, we have to face Shippensburg that is ranked 13th and the first two games are at home," Edmondson said. "The conference title is the first goal, but we want to go to the next level. I'm excited we got a good core coming back and a lot of us have worked real hard in the off-season. We're very excited."

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