Weber State looks to build team to full health over bye week

Thursday , October 05, 2017 - 5:15 AM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — After a strong start that has the team on top of the Big Sky standings, Weber State will take advantage a bye week before taking on Southern Utah at home Oct. 14. 

Wildcat head coach Jay Hill said there are no major injuries to the team, and he hopes to have the players that are banged up back and ready for practice on Monday. The bye week will also be used as a time for in-state recruiting and keeping the team sharp through limited practice and lifts.

“There’s some lingering issues,” Hill said. “It’s just those obnoxious week-or-two injuries. You hope to get those guys back and we think we will. That’s a big deal.”

Senior quarterback Stefan Cantwell has managed to stay healthy despite taking heavy hits every game as he runs head-on into defenders when he carries the ball, unlike some quarterbacks who will slide to the ground in order to avoid contact or injury.

The South Jordan native said he has been “taking some heat” from coaches and players, who warn him he needs to take fewer chances.

“I told them I’m taking it into consideration,” Cantwell said. “I just feel like getting yards is what football is all about. You hit people. It’s a contact sport. I understand calculated risks are better, especially on a quarterback. That’s what I’m trying to do, knowing in situations when it’s smart to slide or not put myself in a place where I’m going to get injured.”

Hill is not one of those coaches giving Cantwell heat. He hopes his quarterback will continue to keep defenders on their toes.

“I’m not going to change who Stefan Cantwell is. That guy’s a baller and he wins games,” Hill said. “He’s smart and he knows how to stay healthy. I’m not going to be the one to have to change the way he plays.”

Obviously satisfied with the team’s 4-1 record, the best start to a WSU season since 2003, Hill hopes to help the Wildcats continue to improve.

The body of work thus far indicates that Weber State is a legitimate team with a shot at contending for a conference title. Last week’s game, a quality win in hostile territory against Montana State, is both evidence of that assertion. And there’s still room to improve, Hill said.

“I think we’re on track with where we needed to be to this point, but we’ve got to continue to get a lot better,” Hill said. “There were some things in the Montana State game that weren’t as clean as we really wanted them to be. Having said that, that’s a sign of a very good team, in my opinion, that you can go on the road, not be 100 percent clean, and still pull off a victory in that setting.”

The Wildcats will return to action Oct. 14 as they host in-state rival Southern Utah at 6 p.m. MDT.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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