Part of the reason that the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets fell short of their goal of a President’s Athletic Conference championship a year ago is that quarterback Carter Hill simply had to do way too much.
Waynesburg simply couldn’t run the football and while the Jackets’ offense as one of the best in the PAC, it had to rely on Hill’s arm on almost every play.
That’s not the case this season for the 5-1 Yellow Jackets.
Speaking to both Hill and Waynesburg head coach Rick Shepas before the season, they both said that the key to success this season would be to be more balanced on offense.
Thanks to a great start to the season from running back Jake Forsythe that is exactly what has happened.
The Uniontown native has rushed for 628 yards on 138 carries, finding the end zone seven times on the season. Forsythe, along with Willie Leavell (224 yards, 24 carries), who gives the Jackets a nice change of pace back, have brought the balance back to the Waynesburg offense.
“That is what we wanted,” said Shepas. “People have to deal with Jake running the ball. And then when we throw Willie in as a change of pace back it gives people something else to think about. If we can keep running like this we are very dangerous as an offense.”
Forsythe is currently third in the PAC, rushing for 104.7 yards per game and his mere presence in the Yellow Jackets backfield makes Waynesburg very tough to stop. Unlike last season, when Waynesburg couldn’t run when they had to, this year it is different and the biggest beneficiary could be Hill. When Hill comes out of the gates slowly, like he did during Saturday’s win against Case Western, Waynesburg can turn to the run. Once the Jackets establish the ground game, it usually opens up the passing game, like it also did on Saturday when Hill threw four touchdown passes.
“Being able to run the ball is big,” said Forsythe. “Last year all we had was a passing attack and if we could have ran the ball better we probably could have gone undefeated. I think I’m running the ball pretty well, as is all of our other running backs. As long as defenses have to worry about us as runners, it makes Carter even better.”
Forsythe also serves another purpose and that is wearing down opposing defenses.
The senior tailback is such a bruising runner that he is often seeking out contact. He often delivers a bigger blow to the defender than he receives. His bruising style of running makes it a chore to tackle him for four quarters and usually by game’s end opposing tacklers are worn out.
Contact is nothing new for Forsythe though as he started his collegiate career as California University of Pennsylvania’s starting fullback.
He successfully has made the transition to starting tailback and his numbers dwarf the 232 yards he gained last year on 66 carries.
“Last year we didn’t have a good running offense,” said Forsythe. “This year I dropped weight in the summer and got faster. I didn’t have a good feeling about the offense last year, but I am a lot more comfortable this season. We are moving the ball well on the ground and have pretty much our whole offense back from last year. We have great chemistry.”
If the Jackets are to find a way to win the PAC this season, which is going to be tough, a lot of it will ride on the legs of Forsythe.
Now that the balance is back in the Waynesburg offense, they are going to be very tough to stop the rest of the season.
Photo Credit: Mike Kabay/ Waynesburg University