District notebook: W&J running back efficient in spread offense

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It was a change in position that made Dion Wiegand think he might need a change of scenery.

A running back since he was 6 years old, Wiegand arrived for his freshman year at Robert Morris in 2009 to find out he would instead be moved to wide receiver.

The change was an unexpected one and though he went along with the switch for that season, this Keystone Oaks graduate decided his brightest possible future laid elsewhere.

About three years later, Wiegand has not only been happy with his decision, but he also has seen his career blossom in the process.

This season, his third with Washington & Jefferson, Wiegand has emerged as the most dangerous offensive weapon on a team that has reaffirmed its status as the preseason favorite in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.

In just four games, Wiegand has rushed for 460 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, which ties him for first among Division III players. He has rushed for at least 99 yards in three of the team's four games this season, something of a pleasant surprise for a running back in a spread offense.

"I kind of thought we'd be more of a passing team this season, but I've made the most of my carries," Wiegand said.

Wiegand's ascendance this season hasn't been entirely unexpected after a junior season in which he rushed for 667 yards. This year, however, he has improved his yards-per-carry average, from 3.8 to 5.8, and nearly has doubled the touchdown total from his first two seasons with the Presidents in just four games.

Most critically, he is one of the most productive players on an offense that has averaged 37.8 points per game for a team that is 3-1 and receiving votes in the AFCA Division III poll.

"He's lighting-quick in the hole, he has great feet, he can make someone miss in the open field," Washington & Jefferson coach Mike Sirianni said. "If he breaks through and gets in the open field, one on one, very rarely will he get brought down."

With a professional career unlikely, Wiegand knows he doesn't have much time left in his football career, a fact reinforced by the team's coaches.

But, for the time being, he plans on getting as much out of the game as he can.

"I've just got to play every game like it's my last," he said.

Defensive star

IUP's 20-7 victory against California in the Coal Bowl was highlighted by a stout defensive performance from a unit that leads Division III teams in scoring defense.

No single Crimson Hawks defensive player stood out more in the win than Terrell Holloway. This senior defensive back and Penn Hills graduate had three interceptions against the Vulcans, a single-game career high.

Hockey news

The college hockey season already has started for a number of local colleges, some of whom find themselves either in or on the verge of being included in the national polls.

After making the Frozen Four in the spring, where it lost to Boston University, the Mercyhurst women's team began the season ranked No. 7 in the USCHO Division I poll. The Lakers have won three of their first four games this season. The school's men's team is among the schools in the "receiving votes" category, which also includes Robert Morris.

Unbeaten in volleyball

Nearly halfway through its 2013 regular-season slate, the Clarion women's volleyball team is 14-0, which is the second-best start in school history. A victory Friday against California would match the 15-0 start made by the 1973 team.

Freeport graduate Carlie Bieranowski is among the team's best players, as she is second on the team in kills (123) and third in points (134).

sportscollegedistrict - rmusports

Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.


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