#16 South Charleston (53.2) at #1 Huntington (79.7)
It was a gut check win for South Charleston to get into the playoffs and definitely a building block for the young Black Eagles, but this one is going to get ugly. Nobody holds back in the playoffs and with a freshman QB and four other freshman skill players, the Black Hawks may hope Huntington has a short memory. South Charleston over the years have shown little mercy over opponents in the playoffs (see playoff records) so I am sure they will get little mercy in return on this one. Hayes will have a record breaking game and Zban will have to keep Dawson happy as well. A young offense will not move well against the vaunted Highlander defense.
#15 Morgantown (63.1) at #2 Martinsburg (84.1)
A memo to all AAA games: nobody was or is going to beat Martinsburg in Martinsburg except the Bulldogs. This is the time of year the Bulldogs have been waiting on since August, the regular season was just a formality, enter Morgantown with a 4-6 record and ton of tradition. Some people think an upset could be in the cards. Coalfields and Company will tell you straight up this will be a huge blowout. Dave Walker knows all too well what the record books say about the upsets and blowouts by Morgantown over the years. This team will score early and often. Bagent has been under appreciated in his offensive output this year- largely because he does not get to play a lot in the second half of nearly eight games. The defense is packed with college talent. Over by the second.
#12 Spring Mills (57.0) at #3 University(73.1)
Coalfields and Company will have a few of its staff members at this game so players ball out. We predict this game will be closer than many think. However, University has been battle tested with a couple of overtime games and come from behind victories. Add a veteran head coach who knows how to prep for the playoffs for the long term and the Hawks will prevail. Spring Mills has done a great job with a couple of playoff appearances under their belt over the last few years and would love to take the next step with an upset win over the Hawks. However, the Hawks have multiple stars on both sides. The Bailey to Richardson connection will be full force if the ground game doesn’t get going. This might be close early, but University by several scores.
#13 George Washington (63.8) at #4 Spring Valley (77.3)
It is always fun to watch MSAC team battle in the playoffs. A surprise always awaits. This one will be fun to watch. Hurricane showed the blueprint on how to beat the Timberwolves: attack the secondary. The Patriots will be sky high for this one as emotions will be off the rector scale for G Dub and with the talent of Wells fresh off some record breaking performances all season long… it could get interesting. However, the beef eaters on both sides of the ball for Spring Valley will maul you and wear you down if you can’t hit that home run. Johnson and Porter will move the ball behind a massive offensive line anchored by Nester, a legit national talent. Make no doubt that Spring Valley’s offensive line is bigger than many college lines. The first quarter will predict the course of the game.
#12 Cabell Midland (74.6) at #5 Mussleman (74.8)
Well somebody in the top five had to draw Cabell Midland and the Applemen got the stick. Everyone across the state calls this the upset special of the week. Not so fast, this is not your version of the Knights of recent years. Unless Midland breaks from tradition of two platooning and put some talent on defense their season might just end Friday night. Midland has been poor all year on defense especially in the passing game. Musselman relies more on running but Chris Fox has proven to be a consistent passer. The problem for the Applemen is can they stop the powerhouse running game of Midland. Led by Vaughn and Duncan, it can be relentless. Out of every playoff game, this is the closest rating between two teams.
#11 Wheeling Park (65.8) at #6 Capital (74.8)
The Cougars defense is as young as they have played in years, which is not good news for most of the state for sure. Wheeling Park is in the same boat with several underclassman dotting the lineup. Both teams sport State Championship rings of late and both teams are led by a Division I QB. Wilkerson has already committed and Martin is only a 11th grader fresh off visits at Notre Dame and Cincinnati. Both are a nightmare to defend. Wilkerson is every bit as talented at throwing the ball and the Cougar defense has had trouble stopping anybody in the top ranks. With stars in both outside spots: Pittman and Harper for Capital and Philips and Evans for Park, the game might just be won in the pit. Wheeling Park has played well at Laidley in the past. The Cougars will need all their focus.
#10 John Marshall (64.4) at #7 Parkersburg (67.0)
Now make no doubt that Stadium Field will be rocking Friday night with their first home playoff game since 2007. The Big Reds should and will be sky high for this one. It is a very tough atmosphere to play in at this time of year for any opponent. The Monarchs have played in good atmospheres themselves this year with big games against University, Morgantown, and Wheeling Park. This will be a Brenton Strange for Dereck Hess matchup to see who can affect the game more. We believe John Marshall isn’t completely overrated but not ready for the spotlight this week.
#9 Hurricane (64.8) at #8 Hedgesville (62.4)
Usually, the 8 vs 9 matchup is expected to be even, but it’s not really the case. Though, we don’t it will be boring. Hurricane has a wealth of skill players that has the speed to beat any team. Hedgesville had struggled against every quality team they played, but they handled Spring Mills well last week. N’iyjere Smith will need to play the game of his life to make the long drive worth it. The Hurricane defense is back on its game and revving up for a run. They will need to hit early and often to have a shot here. If not, this is Hurricane’s game to lose.