By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- If Shenandoah is still bitter about its 27-20 overtime loss to former USA South Conference foe Christopher Newport last season, the Hornets are certainly doing a good job of hiding it.
Shenandoah hosts the Captains tonight in its third and final non-conference game before starting its first-ever tour through the Old Dominion Athletic Conference schedule next weekend. After a lackluster showing in a 14-7 loss to Ferrum last weekend, the Hornets are worried less about revenge and more about getting back on track against CNU.
"It's already put out of our mind, it's over with. You can't look at what happened last year and all that," said Hornets coach Paul Barnes of last season's loss to the Captains. "We're early in the season, and any win now is appreciative. You've got to be competitive, and that's what we're going to do. If we win, then hey, it's a good win. Anytime you win, it's a good win."
Christopher Newport (0-2), last year's USA South champion, has opened the season with back-to-back blowout losses to No. 7 Salisbury and ODAC-favorite Hampden-Sydney, but owns a seven-game win streak over Shenandoah.
The Hornets (1-1) will look to end that losing streak while rebounding after a poor offensive showing against Ferrum last Saturday. The Hornets mustered just 162 yards of total offense against the Panthers while managing only 46 yards through the air.
Senior quarterback Shawn Lloyd was just 7-for-20 passing and accounted for all of Shenandoah's passing yards. Lloyd also threw his first interception of the season.
Sophomore Phillip Gardner didn't fare any better in his limited action, failing to complete a pass in six attempts while also throwing a pick.
Lloyd said the Hornets will simplify their offensive scheme tonight in an effort to get the offense back into rhythm.
"We've shortened some things down -- we aren't going to be motioning as much," Lloyd said. "We will be running pretty much the same schemes that we have been running, just not doing so much -- just sticking to the basics and doing what works with us.
"The offense as a whole, we just have to be sharper, because CNU is just like Ferrum's defense. They're tough and they're going to try to get at you. We just have to be able to counteract that."
Barnes said some of the struggles on offense can be attributed to Shenandoah's inexperience at several positions, including the quarterback spot, but he has seen steady improvement through the first two games.
The Hornets will continue to use both Lloyd and Gardner under center, at least for tonight's game.
"We're just going to go with the guy who's doing well," Barnes said. "Any way to get a 'W' is going to be fine with me. If that means rotating them, if that means one plays more, you do it."
Christopher Newport will also use multiple quarterbacks, and Shenandoah expects to see as many as three different men under center for the Captains.
Senior Aaron Edwards leads CNU with 345 yards and three touchdowns on 32-for-58 (55.17 percent) passing, but senior Christian Woelfel-Monsivais and junior Lyndon Garner have each attempted at least 14 passes so far this season.
Hornets junior linebacker Josh Rogers expects that Edwards will receive most of the snaps for the Captains, but he said Shenandoah is more concerned with Christopher Newport's running attack.
"Smash-mouth football -- that's pretty much what they do, run the football north and south," Rogers said. "They have an old fashion offense, I-formation with the fullback and running back. When they're down they'll spread it out, but other than that it's just straight downhill with the fullback or the lead-draw, stuff like that."
The battle between Shenandoah and CNU has been a physical one over the past few seasons, with two of the last three games being decided in overtime. Barnes has seen plenty of Christopher Newport over his 10-plus seasons as SU's head coach, and he doesn't expect Saturday's contest to be any different.
"They're the CNU that we have always known. It will be a typical CNU-SU game, I've got a feeling," Barnes said. "It's going to be a hard grudge, and get after it -- we're looking forward to it."
One thing the Hornets hope is different from past games against the Captains is the letter in the win/loss column. A win Saturday would not only end Shenandoah's losing streak to CNU, but would give the Hornets momentum heading into ODAC play next weekend at Bridgewater.
"A win will pretty much just help us with our confidence going into Bridgewater, going to the ODAC," said Rogers. "Plus this is CNU, we've got a grudge against them, they're our rivals. So that's pretty much what it is -- get a win against our rivals and then just get our confidence for the ODAC."