It is hard to believe the regular season is now over. It seems just like yesterday Coalfields and Company was giving our preseason previews and top players to look out for. It has gone by so fast, and it was an exciting season filled with surprises such as St. Albans, Pikeview, Phillip Barbour, John Marshall, and Pocahontas County.. There was plenty of excitement from players who decided they were going to let the state know who they are like Tucker Lilly from Summers County or Clay Bailey of University. Regardless, it was a great season. We saw several losing streaks snapped while winning streaks continued. Week 11 fit the script yet again.
Here’s our take:
Main Event Shootout Award – Yes, the final Main Event game on our fight card lived up to the hype. Mingo Central and Winfield put on an offensive highlight reel for the weekend. One cannot say enough about Kennedy Award Winner Jeremy Dillon whom had over 500 yards of total offense. Not to be outdone, Andrew Huff also had a career night piling up 400 yards of offense himself. This game went down to the wire with Mingo Central’s stars: Elia, Reed, and Hatfield all pulling off big plays. A loss is a loss but the Generals should have gotten a hit of confidence with their performance against the defending champs.
Battle of the Shield – Cabell Midland’s juggernaut running game behind a huge and aggressive line anchored by Brier Elswick and Jordan King helped Midland come from behind on the Highlanders. The power back corps of Vaughn and Duncan had a good first half but was a no show in the second half as the highly regarded defense of Huntington held them in check. Jadon Hayes performed as predicted but the dual-threat performance of QB Luke Zban kept the Scarlet Knights at bay. The Highlanders finish the year perfect.
Didn’t Need Em But Got Em Award – Pocahontas County and Shady Spring. Pocahontas had their backs against the wall coming into this game. Playing a Shady Spring team that had been hot of late and has nearly twice as many students as them had the look of a disappointing night. However, after being down almost all night and at one time 17-7, the Pocahontas County gang showed a ton of heart and made a great comeback for the win. Not too many people, including the Coalfields and Company, had them in the playoffs in preseason, and it was great to see them prove us wrong. The SSAC Ratings cannot measure hot streaks.
AAA Key – St. Albans and Hurricane was a game that affected all of AAA. If St. Albans wins, they are in but they had to go through a talented Hurricane team that has played up and down all season. Hurricane jumped out early and scored often to end the Red Dragons playoff hopes by halftime. The young St. Albans offense did battle back to make it close but the Redskin ground game of Christian Hill was not being stopped. Hurricane has gotten two big wins to round their confidence back up and a up Redskin team is a scary Redskin team.
Still Counts – Could there be anyone in the final AAA playoff position in as bad a shape as the Black Eagles? Losing their Senior QB for the season and starting a 9th grade QB and alongside no other senior on offense. The Black Eagles limped into the matchup with Woodrow Wilson. Neither offense could get much going with under 200 yards combined. But, after a messy ball game, the Black Eagles held on 13-10. They now sit at the 16 seed awaiting the undefeated Highlanders.
SHOW ME THE MONEY – Enter a red-hot Braxton County team fresh off back to back big wins in AA versus a troubled Sissonville squad. The Indians, however, knew their position for the playoffs and a win was necessary. In a Hackney v. Cottrill showdown, Cotrill won the battle but Hackney won the war. Also, nearby, two red hot AA’s squared off. Robert C. Byrd’s throttling offense versus Philip Barbour’s resounding defense. The first half was owned by RCB behind big plays by Tre Junkins. The second half, though, would be won with special teams. Not one, not two, but three blocks were made by the Colts which allowed a comeback and late score to win 21-20. Both have made it to the postseason.
King of the Burg Award – South had to win to get into the playoffs. If they win, all other scenarios by any other AAA team were null and void. One big problem was that their cross-town rivals and ancient foe was in the way. Generally, these two teams don’t like each other and the Big Reds would love nothing better than to knock the Patriots out of the playoffs. South played hard; played as well as they could and played at a high level all night. Tyler Moler for the Big Reds carried the ball 38 times for 155 as the horse of the night. South kept it close and had a shot at the end only for a pick to seal it 27-24. Nothing to hang your head over boys!
…Interesting – South Harrison over Liberty (Harrison). This game had the look of a great rivalry game with epic bragging rights as far back as week four. Everyone in A had their eyes on South Harrison in this game especially losing one half of the Hawks dynamic duo. No one quite predicted a blowout. Freddy Canary did his textbook several hundred yards and multiple touchdowns but the surprise came in South Harrison’s stout defense. Could this be alarming to Single A or Double A?
Playoff Practice – George Washington had the Cougars’ number last year, but 2017? Not this time. With both teams in the playoffs, this was about seeding. Grant Wells played good and kept the Patriots in the mix but 350+ total yards by Kerry Martin Jr. would push Cap 24-13. Also in AAA, Wheeling Park dismantled John Marshall for an easy win and momentum going into the postseason. The same can be said for Summers County as they shutout Fayetteville 22-0. Finally, Jake Bowen of Bridgeport scored three times on the ground behind 214 yards and also a kick return for a TD as the quiet yet deadly Indians prep for postseason play.
The regular season is really over. A full year in a review will be released after the State Championship but for now, it has been quite the ride. High school football is one of the most unpredictable and captivating facets of our societies. Towns and crowds brought together to cheer on their youth. The memories have been made… now it is time for some history to be made as well.