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Rams' Chlebowski hungry for more

August 19, 2006|by BOB PARSILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd University quarterback Dan Chlebowski is approaching his senior season like a glutton at a buffet.

"I'm happy to be where I am, but I'm not satisfied," he said.

Chlebowski has come so far as quarterback of the Rams. But his appetite for winning tells him there still are a few courses yet before he can enjoy the just desserts of success.

That might sound greedy coming from a quarterback who led Shepherd to an undefeated regular season and within a touchdown of winning the school's first-ever home playoff game. It only made him hungrier for more.

"We have to take the next step in the playoffs," Chlebowski said, assessing what would be an encore to the success the Rams enjoyed in the 2005 season. "We want to repeat and go undefeated and get to that next level of the playoffs. We can't be satisfied with it. We have to go out and earn it."

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The show Chlebowski ran last season might be a tough one to top.

The Greencastle-Antrim graduate guided the Rams on a run of the West Virginia Conference table. Shepherd ran roughshod over the WVIAC to win its second straight title and fifth in the last decade.

In fact, Chlebowski started the Rams on their amazing run of 16 straight WVIAC wins with a victory over West Virginia State on Nov. 15, 2003. That was his last start until last season. He stepped aside in his sophomore year to allow Leonard Ferguson to call the signals in 2004.

But Chlebowski came back without missing a beat in 2005, leading one of Shepherd's most dominant teams to the playoffs. He was sacked only once all season and benefited from a balanced offense, which was triggered by the running of Dervon Wallace.

The Rams had it all until facing C.W. Post in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. Suddenly, Shepherd's unstoppable offense hit a bump as it was shut out in the second half of a 28-21 loss.

This year, Chlebowski would like to help the Rams make a statement about their playoff ability. It will start with games at Millersville and Shippensburg before opening the home season Sept. 16 with a rematch against C.W. Post.

"This is a proving-point game," Chlebowski said. "They are a respected team that goes to the playoffs often. We look back at the films of that game last year and there were a couple of plays they made and a couple we didn't. I hope it's the other way around this year."

In 2005, Chlebowski threw for 1,714 yards and 13 touchdowns on 148-of-237 passing, good enough for All-WVC second-team honors. The Rams are returning 12 players who were named to the all-conference team.

Chlebowski will be armed with Wallace, who is coming off a 1,389-yard rushing season while setting school and WVC records in scoring and touchdowns. He will have more help this season with running mate Bryan Wright returning from nagging leg injuries, giving Shepherd's ground game more diversity.

Add a stable of receivers to catch Chlebowski's passes and defenses will have to play more honestly than they would like.

"A balanced team is a better team," Chlebowski said.

The cast is in place for another possible march to the playoffs for the Rams. That is the objective on every player's mind, but on few lips heading into the season.

And with the team that is returning, anything less might be a disappointment.

"I'm looking to win the region and to get in the top four," Chlebowski said. "We are looking forward to C.W. Post."

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