Bears, Trojans are ready to battle

By Bonitta Best
Updated: November 11, 2010

DURHAM, N.C. — The match has been set. The Shaw Bears and Virginia State Trojans will go at it for the right to call themselves CIAA champions this Saturday at Durham County Stadium.

The Bears needed a fourth-quarter rally to defeat their arch rival St. Aug’s 10-6, while the Trojans easily beat St. Paul’s 34-14. Both teams are red hot heading into this weekend’s game.

Shaw, currently ranked No. 8 in the latest HBCU media top 10, has won seven straight games while VSU four in a row.

But, like the Falcons last weekend, the Trojans are in unfamiliar territory. VSU hasn’t been in the championship game since a 1988 13-9 loss to Winston-Salem State, while the Bears are winners of two of the last three (2007, ’08) and three total.

Ironically, the two teams haven’t met since 2006, Asberry’s first year as head coach.

“I told coach [Andrew] Faison today, ‘You’re my friend, but you’ve been dodging me since ’06,’ ” said Asberry whose team is ranked No. 6 in the NCAA Super Regional One poll. “Coach Faison has done a great job, and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Faison will lead his first team to the ‘ship as head coach, but it is not his first appearance. As an assistant, he helped guide the Rams to championships in 1999 and 2000.

“Asberry has a great team, and we know what to expect,” said the ninth-year head coach. “They got some men over there, and we will have our hands full. I can’t ‘dodge’ him anymore, but at least this one is for all the marbles.”

Despite averaging 34 points per game, Shaw was held in check by St. Aug’s. The Trojans are also stingy on defense, giving up 15.8 ppg but haven’t left their trademark offense at the door.

VSU has outscored its last three opponents 111-21.

“We’ve got to establish the run early,” Faison said. “If we can run the football and get off to a fast start, that makes it easy for our quarterback. We can’t make it easy for them. They must work for everything they get.”