Norfolk State's football team will have a distinctively West Virginia flavor when it invades Morgantown for a 1 p.m. clash with the Mountaineers.
Head coach Pete Adrian, a native of Brilliant, Ohio, which is just across the Ohio River from Brooke County, W.Va., lettered three years as an offensive lineman for West Virginia University between 1967 and 1969, even taking time out of his injury-shortened senior season to coach the Mountaineers' freshmen team.
Mark Thurston, the Spartans' defensive line coach, was a three-year letterman for the Mountaineers as a linebacker from 1997 to 1999. Defensive coordinator Mark DeBastini, a native of Arthurdale in Preston County, won three letters at Shepherd while playing for current WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
The Spartans, who defeated Virginia State 37-3 Saturday in the Virginia Lottery Labor Day Classic in Norfolk before 17,357 fans, run an offense similar to that of the Mountaineers, and the defensive unit employs basically the same scheme as WVU's 3-3-5 lineup.
"They use more tight ends in their formation than we do," WVU assistant coach Steve Dunlap said. "They do some things (offensively) that can give you problems."
Dunlap said he was not surprised to see Norfolk State run the same basic style of offense employed by the Mountaineers. He said that's because most college teams are doing the same thing.
"This day in time, everybody runs the spread," he said. "You're not going to see the wishbone any more."
Following the win over Virginia State, Spartan quarterback Chris Walley was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Week. Walley completed 19 of 29 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for another 42 yards, the second highest total on the team.
Takeem Hedgeman led Norfolk State with 65 yards on 12 carries. He also caught four passes for another 39 yards. Reggie Garrett led the Norfolk State pass catchers, pulling down seven balls for 74 yards. Victor Hairston caught five passes for 67 yards, and he averaged 15 yards on punt returns and 28 yards returning kick-offs.
Norfolk State returns Kendall Noble to anchor the offensive line, and he was a second-team all-conference pick last year. However, he is just one of four returning starters on the offensive side of the football. Another second-team all-conference pick, defensive lineman Josh Turner anchors a unit which returns eight starters.
Norfolk State is riding a five-game winning streak coming into Morgantown for the game that will be televised on the Big East Network and in West Virginia on Root Sports.
The Spartans, 6-5 a year ago, won their final four games to close out the 2010 season. Norfolk State was picked to finish fifth in the conference in a pre-season poll, which suits Adrian just fine.
"It's a good place to be," he said prior to the start of the season. "What I would say is, we're dangerous. The three teams at the top, they're the three co-champions."
This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.