Featured Photo Credits: Scott McCroskey (The Parkersburg News and Sentinel)
Despite #1 Martinsburg giving up a kick return TD to start the game, their usual stars quickly took over Loudoun Valley (VA). This included phenomenal running from Dewayne Grantham who scored multiple times, big special teams/defensive plays from RJ Barrett and Matt Vanduzer, and a two-QB system between Grant Harman and Elijah Banks- both threw for touchdowns with Harman also pulling in a pick. It was never close as they won 62-12. #6 Wheeling Park also showed a lot with a 66-12 win and a three touchdown start for new quarterback Alex Dunlevy. Rafael Bradley and Kenya Robinson were a deadly running duo and the defense only allowed one first down against Brooke. Finally, another signal calling debut went well with #9 Hedgesville’s Owie Ash tossing multiple scores. The defense was also stout against Washington with N’iyjere Smith turning a takeway into a score. They did battle penalties but past that, were very dominant on the ground and in the air in a 68-8 thumping.
#8 Musselman had an unexpected battle with Spring Mills. Even though new QB Tre Beard and RB Blake Hartman were nearly unstoppable on the ground, Chad Williams’ offense kept making big drives to keep it even into the half. Keon Padmore-Johnson passed for nearly 200 yards in the first half but was halted in the second half. Musselman’s Beard would take over with three scores and 153 yards to compliment Hartman’s four. They eventually put the game out of at reach 45-21. #10 University could not hold off from starting out 0-1. They were tasked with the mysterious John Marshall Monarchs. The Hawks’ line was a big question mark and the Monarch offense took advantage of that just pounding away all night. Chas McCool was the main horse of an offense that ran for 323. Logan Holgorsen and Amir Richardson were impressive and consistent. John Kelley’s special teams and defense were not completely dominated- they had a big field goal block and Evan Parow pick. However, the Monarchs outlasted and made bigger plays including the catch of the year so far from Jordan Wood to Justin Frohnapfel. The Monarchs would win 35-28 and make us eat our words yet again.
One For The Books at Pony Lewis
Two historic programs took the gridiron Thursday on a big broadcasting TV network. Parkersburg made the trek to Morgantown and even though superstar Brenton Strange didn’t play- this game was nothing short of a classic. With the Mohigan offense clearly outsizing the Big Reds, Ty Konchesky had his way running the ball. Even when they passed, Cam Rice made big plays including a back corner touchdown pass to Preston Fox. This domination led to a 17-0 lead in the first. However, after a Rice pick, blocked punt, absolutely jaw-dropping run from Tyler Moler and all of a sudden Parkersburg was not just in it but up 21-17. Quarterback Jake Johnson turned up as well as he ended up with three passing scores himself. The first half lead reached 28-17 before Jace Whetsell illuminated the stadium with a kickoff return touchdown right before the half finished to even out the momentum. Parkersburg had their shots to maintain the lead late but Morgantown’s line quickly beat them back down. Both teams feature quarterbacks that will get more efficient throughout the year. Luckily for Morgantown, they came out on top of this 45-35 classic.
Crushing the Contenders
#3 Fairmont Senior made a statement Friday night. They are still the team to beat in the Big Ten even with the hype regarding #7 Robert C. Byrd. The Polar Bears were bigger and stronger early and often. This domination led to a ridiculous 343 yards and five touchdown performance by Connor Neal with JD Smith pulling in 122 and two touchdowns of those. Fairmont Senior will lose RB Caleb Walker for several games after fracturing his jaw. Byrd’s Ghovan Davidson nearly rushed for 100 yards in this 46-20 routing. Thursday #1 Wheeling Central shutout #7 Williamstown. We all thought the Maroon Knights would dominate, but they were on a new level. The defenses swarmed Carter Haynes and company- who had very few opportunities. They dominated on special teams as well. QB Curtis McGhee and RB/WR Braden Price both had big nights with 256 and 152 yards, respectively. It was never much of a competition with Wheeling Central winning 33-0.
The Big Dogs Roll
#4 Bridgeport showed why they are one of the most consistent programs in the state. They plowed over a promising Lewis County team from start to finish. Jake Bowen had an expected night with 173 and three scores on the ground- in the first half. The resounding Indian offensive line and defense outplayed the Minutemen and forced key turnovers. Their lead ballooned to 45-3 midway through the third and the game finished 45-17. #6 Weir also crushed a nearby rival. The Red Riders started slow but eventually picked up after a long Tyler Komorowski to Sebastian Spencer pass, Donovan Kirby run, Komorowski run, and two more Kirby scores. The lead blossomed to 35-3 by the half. Komorowski would finish with four scores- Kirby with three. Oak Glen would rush for -14 yards but toss the ball 40 times for almost 200 yards and two scores by QB Nick Chaney. Weir would win 49-14.
OT Losses and Shocking Shutouts
#3 East Hardy might just by the kings of heartbreak. Friday night they took on Bishop Carroll Catholic out of PA. It was a hard fought game from the very beginning with stellar defense and a lot of running by Bishop Carroll. They would have three backs finish with a total of 300-yards running. Leading 13-7 at the half, with the Cougars tying it up late. A missed field goal by the Huskies sent the game into overtime where East Hardy was held to a fourth and out and Bishop Carroll would run it in for the 19-13 win- the Cougars first regular season loss in years. Another top five team fell in Single A as well with Magnolia knocking off #4 Sherman at home. With the hype regarding the Tide’s big men and athletic QB, the Blue Eagles decided to spread it out and let Patrick Mirandy do his thing. He would finish with three touchdown passes. The defense was the big story here causing multiple turnovers which disallowed Sherman to ever get into a rhythm. The game ended in a very surprising 24-0 shutout.
Top Tens Deliver
Two promising teams delivered Friday Night as well. Doddridge County and their notorious Bulldog defense had South Harrison stressed from the get-go. This was in-part to a monster performance by Hunter America who rushed for 195 and scored six times. The game was never much in the reach of the Hawks and Doddridge would jump into the top ten with a 52-14 thumper. #10 Pendleton County also had a great night taking on Notre Dame at home. The game started close with the Wildcats and Fighting Irish being tied midway through the second at 14. However, two late scores and a monster third quarter pushed the score to 48-14 where it would finish. A big performance by Kole Puffenberger and company.
There were some big upsets and dominating wins all over the Northern side of town. Petersburg backed their hype with 43-6 routing of Berkeley Springs. Ritchie County took out #9 Tyler Consolidated despite a great performance by Mark Rucker and Griffin Phillips. #7 Cameron took care of business winning by a touchdown over West Greene (PA). A year after losing two powerhouse rushers, Liberty-Harrison started the year off with a four touchdown performance from Doddridge-transfer Seth Davis to win big over Roane County. Jefferson already looks worlds better than last year with a close loss but incredibly impressive performances by Corbin Pierson, Antoine Lewis, and Jevon Lang. Finally, Grafton’s Caleb Bish ran for 197 and four scores in a surprising victory over the tough Philip Barbour.
AAA Player of the Week: WR Antoine Lewis (Jefferson)
AA Player of the Week: QB Connor Neal (Fairmont Senior)
A Player of the Week: RB Hunter America (Doddridge County)