Toppers to battle Kentucky State Saturday

Keith Farner

After getting steam-rolled by a Goliath in Kansas last week, Western will try to bounce back against another K. State this weekend. Only this time Western won’t be David.

Suffering a 48-3 drubbing by Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., last Saturday, No. 22 Western (0-1) will try to heal its wounds in the Hilltoppers’ home opener with underdog Division II Kentucky State.

Senior wide receiver Jerome Reaves will be missed Saturday as he recovers from an injury to his left knee – one of the physical injuries that accompanies a host of less obvious hurts the Toppers are nursing after the loss.

But this week, with roles reversed and Western a gigantic favorite, keeping the players focused will be the No. 1 concern of the coaching staff.

“That’s the beauty of college football,” head coach Jack Harbaugh said. “Those teams that aren’t focused, those teams that aren’t goal-oriented, are the ones that will fluctuate.”

And junior wide receiver Shannon Hayes is planning on starting over after a season-opening embarrassment.

“This is our week to fix all the negatives,” Hayes said. “All the little things that happened from last week that we need to improve on, that’ll be our focus this week.”

Western pounded the Thorobreds last season in a 48-0 shutout, similar to its own recent defeat. With the conference opener with Western Illinois just a week away, it would be easy to look beyond Kentucky State.

“If I see somebody overlooking this game, I’m going to correct them,” junior free safety Antonio Veals said. “I’m going to tell them, ‘Man, you can’t look at them like that.’ We got to take this game as serious as we take every other game.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Smith Stadium. The game will be broadcast on 103.7 WPTQ-FM.

Reach Keith Farner at [email protected]