South Charleston at George Washington
Both the Black Eagles and Patriots have star leaders. Drew Joseph and Zeiqui Lawton for South Charleston and Grant Wells and Dakota Cosby for George Washington. A lot of youth will be seen for these typical MSAC playoff contenders. South Charleston will showcase a new set of skill players including a promising quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end combination- a toolset Coach Donnie Mays has always flourished with. George Washington will need some new faces to come out to help out Wells offensively even though he does have the capability to carry this game. We expect a close one as we see every year with a lot of big plays by both QB’s while also the stars of the defenses stalling drives.
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C&C Prediction: George Washington (26) South Charleston (20) OT
#2 Point Pleasant at Mingo Central
Last year’s co-main event between these two teams was nothing short of a classic topped off with a hail mary to snap Point Pleasant’s lengthy home winstreak. The difference now? The Black Knights roll in at #2 while Mingo Central is unranked. A big reason for this is the loss of a stellar senior class while David Darst returns a slew of experience including Kennedy Award candidate Cason Payne at quarterback. We have not given Mingo Central a lot of credit past Drew Hatfield at receiver as they must replace Jeremy Dillon, Dawson Elia, and a head coach. They had a successful JV year and have a grand tradition so far. That being said, it seems as if the Black Knights will outmatch them at Miner Mountain by a lot.
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C&C Prediction: Point Pleasant (49) Mingo Central (14)
#5 Wayne (AA) at #2 Spring Valley
One of the more unique matchups of the opening week. A top AA and top AAA will butt heads while also sharing the same county. Spring Valley has gathered much praise with a powerful line, deep stable of backs, and an overall huge team. Wayne also returns a lot with almost every starter back. They will, of course, rely on Mike Bartram to be their offense which will hopefully expose a fresh replacement at linebacker. Two historically smashmouth teams could lead to a very intriguing game, but it would be no slight to Wayne to assume the Timberwolves will eventual overpower them.
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C&C Prediction: Spring Valley (35) Wayne (7)
#7 Hurricane (AAA) at #8 Winfield
The yearly opener for these two nearby schools had a pretty good session last year. Hurricane eventually overpowered them. The Redskins have looked good so far into the fall behind Nathan Roy and Christian Hill on offense and an experienced O-Line and defense. Winfield does lose a great quarterback but returns a lot of skill and an arguable equal line. This should be a close matchup than the previous year. Depending on how explosiveness the Redskins are with two new receivers and how well Winfield can keep steady with Nick Vance at quarterback. Expect a hot one by the river with a lot of defense and big plays.
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C&C Prediction: Hurricane (28) Winfield (14)
#4 Huntington at Belfry (KY) (AA)
This cross-state matchup gave us one of the best games of the season last year with Huntington mounting a crazy comeback. This Highlander team looks really similar up front but features new playmakers behind their star-studded line. Tay Blackwell and Ty Wilcoxon look to break onto the season as the main QB/RB duo. The Highlander defense should always be phenomenal with Stephen Perrine off the edge and Brocton Blair poised for another all-state LB season. Belfry is always stellar at home so this will be no cakewalk for Billy Seals and company. Expect a textbook game full of next level talent.
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C&C Prediction: Huntington (31) Belfry (28)
#3 Capital at Johnson Central (KY)
This time last year, Kerry Martin Jr. and his deep offense were young and still almost came back on the talented Johnson Central. Now, after a semifinal appearance, the Cougars are a favorite for the state title. An offense packed with so many names, we couldn’t even mention them all. The question lies more on the defense and front line. They have added some size and have top DL and LB Kalai Clark and Breece Hoff back up front. The secondary should be strong with Kerion Martin hanging over top. Johnson Central is a good team that will have their hands full with this talented bunch.
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C&C Predictions: Capital (42) Johnson Central (35)
#4 Sherman at Magnolia
After a long trip up north and a road playoff win and a highlight offseason, the Sherman Tide have gathered everyone’s attention. Their star lineman and talented quarterback have gained the respect around the state. They will have every opportunity to back it up including their opener against Magnolia. A key game for both teams who have brutal roads, Magnolia will come out full tilt after a troublesome 2017 year. The Blue Eagles are led by a strong offensive and defensive line of the Barrows brothers. They need to replace some stars in the skill position but overall might be deeper than Sherman. This game could answer a lot of questions for both squads.
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C&C Prediction: Sherman (14) Magnolia (13)
#9 Nicholas County at North Marion
Daran Hays has embraced his already brutal big-team Big Ten schedule and picked up Nicholas County as the opener. The Grizzlies, who have been consistently great on defense, picked it up even more on offense last season. Jared Sagraves is their horse at quarterback while North Marion’s stud also plays QB- Dalton Malcolmb. Both are expected to have stout defenses with all-staters like Ricky Newbrough and Desmond Fluarty. These two respected AA programs have lingered around that almost-elite bubble for years! We could definitely see one break through this season. Which one will it be?
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C&C Prediction: Nicholas County (28) North Marion (21)
Parkersburg at Morgantown
Two historically excellent programs lingering in a bubble of mystery clash in an awesome Thursday night season opener. A game filled with D1 prospects, position-swapped quarterbacks, huge offensive lines, great coaches, and a lot to prove will take play in the bowl stadium of Morgantown. We expect both defenses to be stout up front as they try to defend the big play. Brenton Strange of Parkersburg is liable to break one but the passing game will look different with Jake Johnson now at quarterback. The same goes for the passing trio of Cameron Rice, Kaden Rice, and Jestohn Moore. Who knows what this game will hold? So many questions.
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C&C Prediction: Parkersburg (31) Morgantown (17)
#6 Webster County at #5 Richwood
Two nearby teams not usually seen at the top of Single A, luckily, are peaking at the same time and also play each other. Webster County had a two-loss season last year including a first round loss to red hot Summers County. They return almost everyone! Richwood broke a 20-game losing streak and also made the playoffs and hung with South Harrison for a half. They also return almost everyone! Two dark horse Single A contenders will see the legitimacy of both. This will be a game of Richwood’s Jeremiah Johnston running and Michael McGee catching. While the duo RB/LB’s of Webster County look to show them their smashmouth style too. This should be a good one.
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C&C Prediction: Richwood (26) Webster County (19)
#3 Fairmont Senior at #7 Robert C. Byrd
The hype behind the Polar Bears has slowly risen after their second straight title loss. Great offseason performances and the acquisition of a new Gilbert have pushed Fairmont Senior from questionable to a for sure title contender. With Connor Neal and Antonio Parsons returning to mount a fire passing game behind a solid line and defense- it looks bright. On the otherside, Robert C. Byrd finished strong and returns starter after starter. They have a ferocious defensive pass rush led by Robert Arnold and Jaden Marino which would disrupt that pass game. Offensively, they return sophomore QB Xavier Lopez and 1st-team all-state RB Ghovan Davidson. If the Eagles want to be taken as legit- here is their shot.
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C&C Prediction: Fairmont Senior (38) Robert C. Byrd (10)
#1 Wheeling Central at #7 Williamstown
The defending champs start their season off with a bang. They will travel down to Williamstown, an always tough opponent, to begin their repeat season. Everyone knows the stars of this Single A program behind Mike Young. The Yellowjackets will need to key in on the Curtis McGhee III and Braden Price run and pass game before unleashing their quarterback on offense. The Maroon Knight defense will be stout as well. With several writers picking Williamstown in the title game, this could be a lot more interesting than anticipated.
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C&C Prediction: Wheeling Central (21) Williamstown (15)
#1 Bluefield at Graham (VA)
The Battle of the Two Virginias is here! One of the biggest rivalries in the country should be a good one. Last year’s battle was a late game heartbreak for the G-Men. That momentum carried Bluefield to an undefeated season and state title. The Beavers have new faces but potential similar stars with Juice Edwards and Arnold Martin stepping in behind an absolutely massive line. Not to mention young touted WR/DB Isaiah Johnson. The G-Men are led by a similarly high recruited star in Cameron Allen. Expect the typical drama seen every year. Bluefield has a target on their back in West Virginia but perhaps an even bigger one in Virginia.
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C&C Prediction: Bluefield (28) Graham (17)