A great rematch is in store with Huntington and Spring Valley. The last time out, Jadon Hayes came alive in the second half to win 14-0 in a game of sloppy conditions. This time around, Huntington is coming off several less than stellar performances though Hayes is still making a tremendous case for the Kennedy. Spring Valley has played lights out since losing to Hurricane, however, they will be without leading rusher Owen Chafin. Both teams bring a deep and an experienced squad to the table. Only one gets to go to Wheeling.
#6 Capital at #2 Martinsburg
Perhaps the most entertaining rivalry of the 2010’s, the Cougars and Bulldogs have combined for six of the last seven state titles with an appearance by either in every one. The Cougars rely on stud QB Kerry Martin Jr. to hit his talented skill group or tuck it and run. They are coming off their best two wins of the season. They will need every ounce of heat to go into Martinsburg and make some noise. Tyson Bagent is playing historically well at QB and the defense has allowed NEGATIVE six yards in the first two games. No team has had this much hype around them in awhile, and they don’t disappoint. Many believe Capital is the potential game changer though.
#4 Fairmont Senior at #1 Mingo Central
A rematch of the 2016 State Championship. Both sides have changed faces yet the stars still remain. Fairmont Senior has played incredibly efficient through two games with great QB play and winning the line of scrimmage. Mingo Central has put up silly offensive numbers behind the dual lethality of Jeremy Dillon. Their defense has played iffy though. Mingo’s quick scoring offense leaves the defense on the field extended amounts of time; Fairmont Senior could very well capitalize on this. Both teams are State Title game caliber, and it should be a trip up on Miner Mountain.
#3 Bridgeport at #2 Bluefield
Collier vs Bowen. We both know both of these star players will show up in Bluefield. The assisting crews will be the deciding factors. Truck Edwards and Jon Merica might be more important in this matchup. Perhaps, the line of the Indians will win the trenches and give Bridgeport a playoff birth. This is one of two games where the two teams do not have any immediate history. Both have been dominant over top programs and no one really knows what to expect. Mitchell Stadium will be packed edge to edge and definitely expect plenty of red in the stands as well.
#5 St. Marys at #1 East Hardy
Another 2016 championship rematch! After Jaiden Smith’s MVP performance to give East Hardy their second consecutive State Championship loss, the Cougars have since been on a mission. Only being challenged twice to quality teams, it’s been easy riding for Skovron and Company. St. Marys had not lived up to their 2016 campaign up until late. Their last six quarters of play have been their best all year especially on defense. Their last matchup was a classic, and we expect nothing less in this one. The winner will take on one of two unexpected title contenders.
#11 Summers County at #10 Wheeling Central
Starting the postseason, we doubt anyone predicted Summers County and Wheeling Central battling for a title shot. Summers County has improved week by week resulting in three straight shutouts. Tucker Lilly has shown big play ability. They will need their A game to compete with a red hot Wheeling Central who decimated a talented South Harrison team. Curtis McGhee will be their main priority to stop as he’s playing out of his mind. The Bobcats have been doubted all year, and they will be once again traveling hours to Wheeling.
The final part of our 2017 All-State lists. Unlike the 40 of Bronze and 25 of Silver, only 10 will be on the Gold list. As we know, many will come to realize certain players have been left off all three lists. If you believe a player has been snubbed, send us film! We will be recognizing possible missed players later on. The Gold list, however, is the smallest group we have made. Any of these players could be argued to be number one so we refuse to rank- only to recognize the results of a lot of hard work, talent, and passion!
Few thought the quarterfinals would be more spaced out than the first round. Out of the twelve matchups, two were close and boy they were close. The top teams look even more frightening but also increase anticipation for their collisions coming the next two weeks. The stage is now set for the history to be made.
Here is our take:
#9 Hurricane at #1 Huntington
In one of the only close games, it was CLOSE. One yard and one point to be exact. Hurricane, a team Huntington thumped weeks before, was playing their best ball. The offense was moving better and the coaches were calling it almost perfectly. Huntington is an insanely talented squad and once again relied on Kennedy candidate Jadon Hayes for 285 yards and four scores. Those four scores had Huntington up 28-21 with little time left and a long field to cover for the Redskins. A dramatic drive ensued ending with a Roy-Shine TD with a little over thirty seconds left. They elected to go for two where Dakota Williams was stopped one yard short on a formerly successful end around. Huntington would win 28-27.
#10 John Marshall at #2 Martinsburg
Few believed in John Marshall and rightfully so. The historic Martinsburg defense has now allowed -6 yards of offense in its first two playoff games (two yards gained by the Monarchs). Both of their first downs were via penalty. On the other side of the ball, Tyson Bagent set a playoff record for completion percentage going 15/16 with four of those being touchdowns. Trey Sine, Mikey Jackson Jr., and Dewayne Grantham all had huge plays which had this game out of reach after the first quarter. The Bulldogs are putting out legendary performances perhaps never seen before. In an awesome draw, they will host Capital, a program they have a notable past with.
#6 Capital at #3 University
University did not back up their schedule. After much arguing, it seems as if the Cougars of the MSAC will be the ones laughing. Though the score was not fully indicative of the game, Capital was head and shoulders better. University shot themselves in the foot repeatedly including the opening kickoff which Capital scored off. They would turnover the ball in the redzone and have several touchdowns revoked because of penalty. We can not discredit Capital, they are playing their best football so far. Kerry Martin Jr. is a shoe-in week in and week out to perform at a high level; this week with three total touchdowns. Capital will hope to ride this impressive win all the way to the eastern panhandle.
#12 Cabell Midland at #4 Spring Valley
The ground game of the Scarlet Knights and the Timberwolves has been extraordinary in 2017. However, the quarterfinals was all about defense. Cabell Midland was held to their worst performance of the year tallying 76 yards. Ivan Vaughn, the all-state workhorse, only got up to 56. Spring Valley’s Owen Porter had a career day which was instrumental in the shutout. He had SIX sacks. When the defense plays like that, pressure is relieved for the offense. Owen Chafin led the way for the partially stagnant Spring Valley defense with 103 ground gains. However, it was discovered Chafin was injured during the game and will not be suited up as Spring Valley rematches with nearby Huntington.
#8 Liberty (Harrison) at #1 Mingo Central
Liberty went down swinging. Many expected the Miners to run them out early, but the Mountaineers stuck around longer than anticipated. Early success by the Lantz/Westfall duo, which ended with 184 combined and two scores, had them within arms reach of the defending champs. Mingo’s liable defense was eventually relieved by the Dillon-Elia combo. By the half, the two had heated up and began widening the margin. Jeremy Dillon would finish with 200+ total yards and four scores where Dawson Elia ran it in three times. Mingo Central will host Fairmont Senior in a rematch of the 2016 state championship; all eyes will be on their defense.
#7 Point Pleasant at #2 Bluefield
We thought it would be closer. We thought. Though the Beaver perform every week, there still seems to be a lot of doubt as they remain with three teams who have been in the semis for consecutive years. Point Pleasant’s Cason Payne played decent but was not 100, and add in Point’s lackluster defensive play, and it was a wrap. Mookie Collier would tote 167 and three scores and was well complimented by Truck Davis. Perhaps, the most pleasant surprise was QB Chandler Cooper who tossed 117 and two scores. A little bit of dual-threat could be an important part when they host Bridgeport this upcoming week.
#11 Winfield at #3 Bridgeport
And right back in the Semifinals is Bridgeport. Despite a first-year coach and injuries on defense, the Indians find themselves with one loss and one game away from the ole familiar state championship. We thought Winfield was dangerous and their quickfire offense would challenge Bridgeport… not even close. Andrew Huff played decent with 187 and two scores but turned it over three times. This was too much to give to a rushing attack where Jake Bowen scored four times on 201 yards while QB Jon Merica added two more. Bridgeport controlled this game from the get go and will prepare for a much anticipated matchup with Bluefield.
#5 Wayne at #4 Fairmont Senior
In the second North-Central vs Valley matchup, there were similar results. Wayne’s usually consistent attack of Bartrum and Milum never got even close to going. Fairmont Senior showed incredible experience and maturity to never let the dangerous Pioneers within arms reach. Connor Neal has been specifically impressive in his first playoffs going for 171 and two scores. The Polar Bear offense was the game icer, scoring five times on their first six drives. After back-to-back great showings, they will travel to Miner Mountain to rematch with the Miners. Many would argue the Miners are not the team of 2016 and the same for Fairmont.
#9 Sherman at #1 East Hardy
Sherman had a high rating but everyone knows that East Hardy is on a mission. Though late success and early takeaways, the Tide never had too much of a shot. The Cougars played a complete team game with everyone pitching in. Brett Tharp affected the game more on defense with interceptions and slowing down the Will Hensley passing attack. Aden Funkhouser was the standout in the quarterfinal matchup, catching several Clay Skovron touchdowns. East Hardy bounced back to their blowout ways after a scary Williamstown game and now look to avenge their second state championship loss to St. Marys. It will be one for the books.
#10 Wheeling Central at #2 South Harrison
Many believed Wheeling Central had a shot at the stunning South Harrison Hawks; nobody predicted a blowout. Freddy Canary was held to 123 on 30 carries and 50 of those came off one run. The impressive Maroon Knight defense was assisted by big plays from QB Curtis McGhee. He finished with over 200 yards and multiple touchdowns including a momentum turning 93-yard score. It seems as if the extremely tough schedule played has prepared them for about anything. They will now take on the mysterious Summers County Bobcats at home; a team that has had three consecutive shutouts.
#11 Summers County at #3 Midland Trail
The other of the two games that were not blowouts. This was a defensive showcase for the books. On the chilly night, neither offense could get quite going. If they did, a failed fourth down conversion, missed field goal, or turnover would ensue. Trail’s 2000 yard rusher, Thomas Ferris, appeared banged up after the impressive Summers County defense played out of their minds. The game was scoreless until an early fourth quarter bomb thrown by Tucker Lilly. Up 6-0, Summers County could not stay on the field to run the clock out. Trail would need to travel the entire field in a little over a minute. Insert two long QB draws and a wide receiver thrown pass and the Patriots were on the three. Tragedy would follow as Ferris would lose grip of the ball and Summers County would recover. The improbable Bobcats are heading to the Semifinals.
#5 St. Marys at #4 Tug Valley
Being the fifth seed can be slightly misleading. St. Marys is a one-loss team and the defending champs. Tug Valley has had a spectacular year but when Jonathan Blankeship, their top runner, left the game… it was all she wrote. Jaiden Smith would run wild as he usually does for 206 yards. The Blue Devil defense was ready to blow out the undefeated hosts as well, recording four takeaways. St. Marys’ last six quarters of play have looked incredibly similar to the 2016 State Champions they are. They will need to answer the call as they previously did as they rematch with East Hardy.
Several weeks ago in Hurricane, Jadon Hayes ran rampant. The usually stout defense of the Redskins was sliced and the high flying offense was ceased. Hurricane has shown signs of being a contender this season and are 50/50 in big games. Huntington hasn’t been stellar the last few weeks, making a lot of mental errors. The Redskins will need to capitalize on every chance they get. The length of this game will decided in the first.
#10 John Marshall (64.4) at #2 Martinsburg (84.1)
We’ll never count a team out. John Marshall proved a lot of critics wrong going to Parkersburg and controlling the game. They proved to have multiple players capable of moving the ball… but this Martinsburg team is playing at an unmatched level. The defense is clicking just as much as the offense with an all-state player in every group. Being in Martinsburg, we see no chance.
#6 Capital (74.8) at #3 University (73.1)
Now we’re cooking with gasoline! The North and the Valley go head on. After many MSAC fans critiqued University’s quality, here you go. University came alive last week after starting slow while Capital played one of their best games of 2017. Star players will litter the field, and it should be a sight to see. Capital’s entire game will rely on Kerry Martin Jr. and his ability to make plays.
#12 Cabell Midland (74.6) at #4 Spring Valley (77.3)
Cabell Midland had a great ground game in every matchup… except in their 56-28 loss to the Timberwolves several weeks ago. Spring Valley hasn’t had a close game in nearly a month, and they’re playing their best football. The Scarlet Knights can appreciate the short trip after a slugfest in the Eastern Panhandle. The defense will need to bring their big boy pants this week if they want the outcome to be different. Remember, beating the same team twice is easier said than done.
#8 Liberty-H (55.7) at #1 Mingo Central (70.7)
What’s the best perk of being #1? The path. While the other top four seeds play Point Pleasant, Wayne, and Winfield, Mingo will take on Liberty. Liberty has had a fantastic season thanks to a dual threat ground game, but they’ve been shut down on multiple occasions. Put them up on Miner Mountain against Jeremy Dillon who has averaged over 400 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games… well, better bring your A game.
#7 Point Pleasant (67.8) at #2 Bluefield (73.6)
We’re loving the playoff rematchs. Many might remember the Beavers blowing out the Black Knights midseason, however, one must understand that a lot went right for Bluefield that game. We predict a much closer score this time with it being an honest toss-up. Cason Payne and his Point Pleasant offense is on fire as well Mookie Collier and Bluefield. This is a perfect crash course where every single possession will matter.
#11 Winfield (70.7) at #3 Bridgeport (68.4)
The most intriguing game to be played Friday. The high powered General offense facing off against the one-loss Indians. Though Bridgeport still carries that sense of intimidation, Winfield might be the scarier team here. Andrew Huff has played electric especially in big games while the Indians rely solely on Jake Bowen to make it happen on all three sides of the ball. However, it is a home game, and the Indians have an incredible amount of experience. Anything can happen.
#5 Wayne (65.3) at #4 Fairmont Senior (72.0)
In yet another case of the the Valley vs the Central, a good matchup should be in store. Wayne’s typical running game with the occasional yet efficient passing will fair against a loaded Polar Bear squad. Fairmont Senior has been here and done this. We expect a good game, but we also expect the Polar Bear offense to do their thing. We aren’t sure anyone on the Pioneers can slow down Bryson Gilbert and if they do, there’s still more to come.
#9 Sherman (58.9) at #1 East Hardy (63.5)
The Sherman Tide rolled round one while #1 East Hardy won late against Williamstown. Sherman will need to be ready for yet another incredibly long drive. Ben Salmon has proven his worth as a three down back, but every phase of the game will need to be won to take down the perennial state-runner ups. One could argue that last week’s win was their best as it required character and facing adversity. Sherman might hang around for a little, but this is still East Hardy’s to lose.
#10 Wheeling Central (57.7) at #2 South Harrison (65.8)
Wheeling Central is dangerous. If common opponents are any indication, the Maroon Knights handled East Hardy much better. However, that was prior to Freddy Canary breaking playoff rushing records. With his partner in crime gone, Canary has put the Hawks on his back. Wheeling Central needs not to try and stop him, just to slow him down. Central will need their textbook efficient playstyle with capitalization and no mental errors to upset South Harrison; it is very much a possibility.
#11 Summers County (47.8) at #3 Midland Trail (60.7)
The top two Single A’s in the Coalfield Region remain and get to go head-to-head for the 2017 Coalfield Crown. Midland Trail is the definite favorite here. Sporting a consistent and deep team, the Patriots are completely ready for anything Summers County has to offer. Tucker Lilly is a dynamic young QB and will give Trail problems occasionally, but we expect Midland Trail to grind their way early and often to a trip to the semifinals.
#5 St. Marys (60.0) at #4 Tug Valley (53.0)
Tug Valley is flying in hot off an emotional Round One victory. Though they expected a bigger win, it showed character. St. Marys, on the other hand, battled and defeated a spectacular Doddridge defense. Though The Blue Devils will travel, they have been granted the favorite. The defending champs still have the 2016 State Championship MVP, and we don’t expect a road trip to Tug Valley to alter their road for a repeat.
Our second list for our 2017 All-State! Once again, we don’t base it off position or division. The lists are Gold (top ten), Silver (next 25), and Bronze (the 40 after that). Once again, lineman fly under the radar more than any position so keep sending us film if a player you know gets snubbed (that goes for every position). The Silver List is incredibly hard to land on. Enjoy!
Coalfields and Company is doing our All-State list differently than the norm. The composition of a team based on position is overdone and leaves a lot of deserving guys out since the best athletes of a team are usually put at either quarterback or runningback. We will release three lists: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Gold being our top ten players (not in order), Silver being the next twenty five, and Bronze being the forty after that. Honestly, the biggest position left off will most likely be offensive lineman because that is a position needed to be seen multiple times in person or on film. We will have a slew of awards later on based on the hogs, so if you think we’ve missed out- send us film! Our list also disregards division and tries to find the Top 75 players statewide.
Without further ado:
2017 BRONZE TEAM
Griffin Adkins (DB) – Cabell Midland
Jimmy Allison (OL) – Bridgeport
Clay Bailey (QB) – University
Trevor Barnhart (LB) – University
Josh Bartrum (RB) – Wayne
Kobie Carpenter (QB) – Lincoln
Rennie Clark (RB) – Wheeling Park
JT Cooper (LB) – Hurricane
Mikal Dawson (WR) – Huntington
Isaiah Duncan (RB) – Cabell Midland
Truck Edwards (LB) – Bluefield
Dawson Elia (RB) – Mingo Central
Brier Elswick (OL) – Cabell Midland
Thomas Ferris (LB) – Midland Trail
Chris Fox (QB) – Musselman
Will Hackney (QB) – Sissonville
Jacob Hartman (QB) – Petersburg
Drew Hatfield (WR) – Mingo Central
Dereck Hess (RB) – John Marshall
Trey Henry (DL) – Martinsburg
Andrew Huff (QB) – Winfield
Derek Johnson (QB) – Spring Valley
Jeremiah Johnston (RB) – Richwood
Tyler Komorowski (DL) – Weir
Ty Konchesky (RB) – Morgantown
Dalton Malcomb (QB) – North Marion
Hunter Mason (LB) – Philip Barbour
Connor Moore (DB) – James Monroe
Connor Neal (QB) – Fairmont Senior
Anthony Pittman (WR) – Capital
Nate Philips (DB) – Wheeling Park
David Robertson (OL) – Musselman
Mark Scites (QB) – Riverside
Dylan Smith (RB) – Chapmanville
Jaiden Smith (RB) – St. Marys
Hayden Starcher (DL) – University
Tayton Stout (WR) – Braxton County
Connor White (RB) – Scott
Dakota Williams (WR) – Hurricane
Matt Vanduzer (WR) – Martinsburg
Our Silver List (11-45) will be released tomorrow (11/16/17)!
Round One of the West Virginia playoffs is usually unappealing in the high-low seed matchups. Every 1-4 seed won along with two of the five seeds. After that, it was pretty back and forth. No result was very surprising except for several that were extremely close or extremely spread out. Regardless, the stage is now set for the quarterfinals. For the first time this year, we saw the north vs the south, the east vs the west, the panhandle vs the valley. The dream is weeks away.
Here’s our takeaway of Round One:
#16 South Charleston at #1 Huntington – This one was way too close for comfort. The Highlanders are without a doubt talented but did not play to their fullest Round One. Though Jadon Hayes performed as expected with 196 and three total touchdowns and QB Luke Zban hit three scoring passes as well, the Black Eagles stuck around until late. This can be a good building block for a young South Charleston team. The Highlanders on the other hand will need to rid the mental mistakes if they expect to contend.
#15 Morgantown at #2 Martinsburg – The Bulldogs had the Mohigans beat before the game started. Some predicted a potential upset but that was never in the cards. Martinsburg first play was a Tyson Bagent TD and Morgantown’s first was a fumbled snap. This was only the beginning… Dewayne Grantham would run in three scores before the half ended putting it at 47-0 at the half. Perhaps, the most amazing stat is Morgantown’s offensive yards: -10 total yards. Winter is coming in the valley.
#3 University at #14 Spring Mills – We thought University was finally embracing being the big dog in 2017 with a first play score from Clay Bailey to Amir Richardson. However, the Cardinals of Spring Mills kept it a game the first half- being 10-7. Finally, the Hawks stepped up and stuck the dagger in. With an explosive third quarter led by the returning Trevor Barnhart, University sailed to a 37-7 win. Not the most impressive of wins, but it’s not about the looks, it’s about the dubs.
#4 Spring Valley at #13 George Washington – The former State Runner-Up Timberwolves are ready for their run. The Patriots late season rally did not work as well as in 2016. Grant Wells never quite got going and that ended with Spring Valley’s second shutout over them this season. The Timberwolves had all their star players making plays. QB Derek Johnson and RBs Owen Chafin and Graeson Malashevich combined for over 400 yards and a 31-0 thumper.
#12 Cabell Midland #5 Musselman – The closest ratings matchup of any playoff game. No top eight team wanted the Scarlet Knights, and we found out why. The Applemen represented the panhandle well. In a close, smashmouth game, Cabell Midland would rely on Ivan Vaughn to carry them. 35 carries and the majority of a 400 yard rushing performance by the Knights. Even with all that, Musselman had a shot late but allowed a fourth down conversion to put the game on ice. Both are excellent teams.
#11 Wheeling Park at #6 Capital- Capital ran over, ran around, and shut down an outmanned Wheeling Park squad. In a rematch of the State Championship of 2015, Capital would come out on top this time. Kerry Martin Jr. put together one of his top performances yet with 300 total yards and five touchdowns. Cross Wilkinson still held his own with 200+ yards, but the Capital defense was after him all night. If Capital plays like they did in their 63-21 win, it could get very interesting.
#10 John Marshall at #7 Parkersburg – So much for the home field advantage of Stadium Field, and The Monarchs not being able to play in that environment. The Big Reds remained behind the entire game due to a 249 rushing performance by Charles McCool. Though 14-7 at the half, both offenses would burst in the third and fourth. Getting up by several scores, John Marshall held on to a 42-35 despite late success by Kam Mace and Brenton Strange. The Monarchs reward will be a trip to Martinsburg.
#9 Hurricane at #8 Hurricane – This was perhaps the most interesting matchup in AAA. Hurricane played an absolute murder schedule and was up and down with it. They showed signs of being a legit contender and at times they showed signs of being average, usually due to injuries. A looming long trip proved to be okay by the Redskins as they never allowed Hedgesville within striking distance. Both relied on big plays from players like Dakota Williams or N’yjere Smith. The solid running of Christian Hill is what pushed the Hurricane to a 52-21 win.
#16 Robert C. Byrd at #1 Mingo Central – Both teams have put up big numbers this year but if RCB had any chance, they had to hang north of 50. This is because the Miners have a knack of scoring over 50 points on a regular basis. Robert C. Byrd’s freshmen led offense did perform notably, however, The Miners are a different beast. Jeremy Dillon totaled 444 yards and five touchdowns. Also, Dawson Elia had a five touchdown on the ground. The game was always in Mingo’s hands, and even after an explosive 4th quarter where 45 combined points were scored, they finished with an astounding 76-40 win.
#15 Braxton County at #2 Bluefield – The only chance Braxton had in this one was if their passing game could harass Bluefield. But even at that, they had no shot. Mookie Collier touched the ball four times and had 107 yards while Truck and Juice Edwards combined for four touchdowns. Braxton County was not ready for the speed of the Beavers and the score slipped to 40-0 at the half. A running clock, and a very impressive win for Bluefield. Onto the next round.
#14 Weir at #3 Bridgeport – Weir had an up-and-down year, but everyone knew they had a load of potential. In a full-team aspect, the Red Riders perhaps outplayed the Indians in the first half. They didn’t outplay Jake Bowen, though, who returned the opening kickoff and had another big run to have them up by only two in the first half. This positioned them to dominate the second half where Bowen finished with 200 plus and four scores. The Red Riders played hard but failed to capitalize with their opportunities. Bridgeport sailed to a 35-12 victory.
#13 Keyser at #4 Fairmont Senior– Keyser might have a few bad memories with their recent trips to the Fairmont-Bridgeport area this season. It has not faired very well for the Keyser bunch. It didn’t help they were facing off against a multi-starred and experienced Polar Bear team with their own star, Brady Ours, playing at under 100 percent. His heart was noted but Fairmont Senior was too good. Connor Neal threw for 150+ and three scores and still has zero interceptions. Bryson Gilbert did lightwork of the Golden Tornado D with 143 and two touchdowns. In a odd similarity to Bridgeport-Weir, they won 34-12 but in much cleaner fashion.
#12 Sissonville at #5 Wayne – Wayne was once the bullies on the block in AA. They had to sit at home and watch the title game on TV the last couple of years. It appears they are ready for another title run. Sissonville got off hot in the beginning of the year only to back into the playoffs. In their rematch, it seemed on pace to repeat being 14-14 at the half and including a slew of turnovers. Despite the sloppy start, Wayne set themselves away from the pack with Michael Bartrum tallying 167 and three scores in a 54-28 finish. Will Hackney played hard with 321 threw the air but had several important picks.
#11 Winfield at #6 James Monroe – Perhaps the surprise game of the week was the Generals coming into James Monroe’s house and shut them out. James Monroe has played an extremely difficult schedule and had a few big time wins and many thought the home field would be a big advantage for the Mavericks. But if the ratings were any indication, the Generals were a threat. The red hot Generals played specifically well on defense where they struggled the week prior. Zach Bratton led the way with 167 on the ground and despite three turnovers, they never let the Mavericks on the board- only allowing 35 yards in the second half. Very impressive and a good 29-0 win.
#10 Phillip Barbour at #7 Point Pleasant – Philip Barbour should be immensely proud of their turnaround year. 0-10 to 8-2 is amazing! To draw an away game where almost no one wins is a tough match. Point Pleasant was just far too much for the Colts and hung a half of a hundred on them. Though the Mason-Collier defense kept it close in the first quarter, Cason Payne got warmed up in the second where the Black Knights scored five times. From there on out, it was a textbook blowout. 63-14 and Point Pleasant rides some confidence back into Bluefield.
#9 Nicholas County at #8 Liberty (Harrison) – Nicholas County has played up and down all year. Their defense seemed to be the only consistent part of their team. Liberty limped into the playoffs off some tough losses. So when Broderick Lantz and Dalton Westfall went back to their old ways for 250+ and multiple scores it was surprising. Sitting at 7-7, they would score 20 straight to soar into the second round and matchup with #1 Mingo Central.
#16 Williamstown at #1 East Hardy – This was the toughest 1-16 matchup in all three classes. While others cakewalked, this rematch was a war to the end. The game lived up to its hype. Though QB Clay Skovron had a spectacular regular season finale, the Yellowjacket defense was not as forgiving. It was actually Williamstown’s ballgame until five minutes left when East Hardy pushed ahead 14-10. The ensuing Williamstown drive seemed promising until a fumble promptly ended their season. A hard fought game and East Hardy escapes to the next round.
#15 Richwood at #2 South Harrison – The feel-good story of Single A football has been the Lumberjacks. After the floods of 2016 and consolidation battles of 2017, it was great to see them have a good season for their community and make the playoffs. They played a fantastic South Harrison team. It looked evident it would be a blowout, but Richwood replied with three straight scores of 50+ yards to bring it within two in the second quarter. From there on, they would only manage 28 more yards. And Hawk RB Freddy Canary would set a preliminary Single A rushing record with 368 yards and five touchdowns in the 58-19 win.
#14 Fayetteville at #3 Midland Trail – Round two of the Battle of the Bridge was about as exciting as the first one. Though the Pirates did have a second wind to keep close early, as in the first, the dominating Midland Trail line wore them down and out. Thomas Ferris saw similar success and ended his career with back-to-back wins on the nearby rivals. Midland Trail should be revving the engines preparing for the quarterfinals- they’ve been very impressive thus far.
#13 Pocahontas County at #4 Tug Valley – This was the game of the weekend for the A ranks. As it looked like the Pocahontas County gang was on its way to an upset over the highly ranked Panthers a turnover gave them life. A great historical comeback playoff performance for Tug Valley and an epic performance by both teams as they both left it all on the field. Many doubted both of these teams but no one can doubt the character of Pocahontas County or the heart of Tug Valley in their 30-29 dramatic comeback.
#12 Doddridge County at #5 St. Marys – The Bulldogs defense played about as well as they could against the defending champs. In the first half, they slowed every St. Marys weapon down and stood 6-6. The second half was completely different however. When St. Marys found their offensive stride, Doddridge didn’t. Jaiden Smith was fed carry after carry to a dominating 38-8 second half score. St. Marys proved their worth and should have a lot of confidence wearing down one of the best defenses in Single A. The Bulldogs should be proud of a great season.
#11 Summers County at #6 Webster County – With eight teams left in Single A, we doubt many would have predicted the scariest to be Summers County. It’s one thing to have good team but another to be constantly improving. In a rematch of a close regular season game, Summers County goose egged the #6 team in Single A. A team noted for their big time runners was held underneath 20 yards rushing while sophomore QB Tucker Lilly of the Bobcats found the endzone three times. This was the biggest shock judging by the ratings.
#10 Wheeling Central at #7 Cameron – Just like Cabell Midland in AAA, somebody in the Top Eight was going to draw Central Catholic. Unfortunately, it was Cameron. The rating system predicted the toughness of Wheeling Central’s schedule. Cameron backed their side up though. It was very much a game being 14-12 in the third. The game breaker: Curtis McGhee. The Maroon Knights would proceed to score 20 straight points and McGhee would tally 250+ yards. They are every bit as good as advertised and an absolute contender.
#9 Sherman at #8 Madonna – A clash of worlds occurred Friday in Weirton. Two different types of schools, hours away, no common opponents, but both with great RBs. The ratings showed a big favor toward The Tide but was the drive too much? It was actually The Blue Dons who showed shakiness, fumbling the opening kickoff. They were forced to play from behind the rest of the night. Sherman would feed Ben Salmon for a 153 and two score night. Sherman held their lead the whole game despite a 193 effort by record-breaking runner Donovan Kirby. QB JT Hensley of Sherman was the ultimate game breaker with solid play for Sherman to finish 37-14.