SYRACUSE, N.Y. (U-WIRE) -- The Syracuse football team will play for a number of things Thursday against West Virginia. The Orange will play for pride, a huge conference win, bragging rights and national exposure. But it will also play for a sculpted metal trophy.
The Schwartzwalder Trophy is up for grabs again Thursday. The trophy, named after Ben Schwartzwalder, a former West Virginia football player (1931-1933) and Syracuse head coach (1949-1973), is presented to the winner of each Syracuse-West Virginia football game. The Mountaineers have won the past two years. Like the Stanley Cup Trophy or any World Wrestling championship belt, the Orange want it back.
Syracuse has won the trophy six times since the honor was first awarded in 1993. The actual trophy was first awarded in 1994 after Jim Ridlon, a former Syracuse football player and SU art professor, sculpted it. The Orange hasn't won the award since 2001, when it beat WVU 24-13.
"It means a great deal," SU head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "This game goes all the way back a long, long time ago. The Schwartzwalder game is big. It's Syracuse-West Virginia, the old ECAC. There's a lot of tradition."
While Pasqualoni knows the importance of the game, he suspects that the significance may be lost on some of his players, none of whom were alive when Schwartzwalder retired from coaching Syracuse in 1973.
"But I think at the same time there's enough paraphernalia in the [Syracuse] Hall of Fame that they understand what's going on," he said.
"The rivalry with these guys is big," SU tight end Joe Kowalewski said. "They're just a team that is always ready to play Syracuse. It's a big deal to fans and a big deal to players."
Pasqualoni said Monday that Steve Gregory was practicing this week, and it is "promising" that the wide receiver will play Thursday against West Virginia despite an injury to his right thigh. Gregory has been out since SU's game against Cincinnati on Sept. 18.
"He's still day-by-day," Pasqualoni said. "His condition has been elevated. He's very anxious to play."
Linebacker Kellen Pruitt also practiced this week after suffering a knee injury at Virginia on Sept. 25. Pasqualoni said Pruitt was not 100 percent, but he may see limited action Thursday.
DeAndre LaCaille and Jared Jones, who were both banged up against Florida State last week, are practicing this week and are expected to play.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Syracuse will face West Virginia on Thursday night at 7:30 EDT, SU's first Thursday night game since opening its season at BYU on Aug. 29, 2002. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Syracuse will depart for Morgantown, W.Va., on Wednesday afternoon, so as not to miss any classes. The Orange will return in time for classes Friday.
"The kids are taken out of school for a day," Pasqualoni said, "so there's an upside and a downside.
"It puts greater demands on the student-athletes."
Pasqualoni and the Syracuse players anticipate a wild atmosphere in Morgantown, a small town renowned for its fanatical fans and late-night bar scene.
"[In 2002, the fans] were throwing stuff at the bus," Kowalewski said. "They are some of the craziest fans. I told my parents when they come to the game, 'Don't worry about wearing orange and blue. Just blend in. If we score, just be quiet.' There have been stories about their fans yelling at people."
THIS AND THAT
Pasqualoni said strong safety Diamond Ferri has practiced returning punts in practice, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll see action as a punt returner Thursday. Ferri has returned 11 kickoffs for 324 yards. ... Ferri also earned Big East Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against Florida State. Punter Brendan Carney earned conference Special Teams Player of the Week. ... Thursday's game will be called on ESPN by Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and former Daily Orange writer Mike Tirico.
(C) 2004 Daily Orange via U-WIRE.