2018 C&C Playoff Preview: QUARTERFINALS (ALL CLASS)



#9 Parkersburg at #1 Martinsburg


For many Football die hard fans this is an interesting matchup. You have the current king of the Hill playing the former king of the Hill in AAA. Martinsburg is the machine Parkersburg once was.  Though Martinsburg is the expected favorite after a 35-0 “lackluster” performance, Parkersburg is interesting.  They have handled speed well and have one of the best passing tandems in the state.

Parkersburg’s Game Plan: Hit fast and hit them hard. Use the three headed offensive monster and generate points. Many teams try to grind it out on the Bulldogs without success. Come right at them and outscore them if needed. You have the firepower to play a shootout with Strange out wide. Might as well come after them this way because the grind it out approach has not worked for many.  Take a note from Sherando (VA).  Defensively, limit big plays.  Make them earn it and hope they get nervous and make impatient mistakes.

Martinsburg Game Plan: Shut Strange down and not worry a lot about the other guys. Double or bracket him and take him out of the game and the Big Reds are in trouble. The Big Red defense can play good at times but when playing high powered offenses they have not fared well. Force the Big Reds to play in space because their skill set is not close to yours and crush their upset hopes early.  Call the typical game with a solid Harman-Banks 1-2 punch assisted with excellent special teams play.



#7 Huntington at #2 Spring Valley


This is the best matchup for the weekend in AAA. Huntington is fresh off a big rival playoff win over Midland.  They get another big rival AAA playoff game in round two. Can the vaunted Huntington defense shut down the powerful and underappreciated explosiveness of the Wolves? That will be the question.  The Highlanders want to avenge another loss in the quarterfinals, however, we doubt Spring Valley only scores seven points such as Cabell Midland.

Huntington’s Game Plan: Eliminate the run at all cost. If they beat you, make them beat you throwing. It will be cold and wet and with the surface at Spring Valley- a possible mess.   Will Adkins can pass but the Highlander secondary is very talented.  Offensively, if there are any tricks awaiting in the playbook- throw them early.  Nothing like a cheap score to have them behind early in a probable low-scoring match.

Spring Valley’s Game Plan: Spring Valley will mix it up a little this week. They do have the capability of providing more looks this year than in years past. They will still ride that huge line but Huntington can matchup with them in this regard. They wont venture far from the grind and pound that has worked so very well for them but expect many plays to put Graeson Malashevich in space. Defensively, if Huntington comes out under center like last week- it’s pretty straightforward what needs to be done.



#11 Hedgesville at #3 Capital


Well, any talk of an upset last week of the Cougars was smashed early. We stated that no team in WV plays up to the challenge and the hype than the Cougars. This is a senior dominated Cougar team that is lethal. The Eagles of Hedgesville will come into this game feeling like a team of destiny after a comeback then recomeback last week at Parkersburg South.  Perhaps, the inspiration could close gap.

Hedgesville’s Game Plan:  Make Kerry Martin Jr. put it in the air.  Don’t let him scramble- N’iyjere Smith leads the state in interceptions (10)! They have good enough skill set to go into Cover 1 or even 0- the goal is to limit Martin’s playmaking. If they try to keep everything in front of them and not get beat deep Capital will hang 50. That is why its pure man and roll the dice in the cold wet weather this weekend. On offense they will just do what got you there- an efficient pass game and potential broken plays.

Capital’s Game Plan: Come out guns blazing and put the Eagles away early. A long drive, clearly outmatched, wet and rainy night or day makes an early deficit just a little harder to overcome. If Hedgesville is locked in for the pass, let Kerry Martin Jr. destroy them scrambling. Defensively, their secondary possesses all all-state talents. Make them beat you in the ground. Most importantly, come out hot.


#5 Ripley at #4 Musselman


Ripley came through with a good win last week. Ripley is a story in itself ,but they won when they were supposed to that is all that matters in the end. They have zero key wins on their schedule to speak of and played what many would state a suspect schedule.  Here is their chance to shut everyone up.  On the road playing a red-hot team who has only fallen to the 2x defending champ and who’s QB had eight scores in round one.  Let’s see what they’re made of.

Ripley’s Game Plan: Regardless of schedule the Vikings offense can give anyone fits. They are very physical and can keep the opponent from getting the ball much. They are a senior loaded team that has had its ups and downs and will try and make this a ground and pound game.  The Applemen are not easy to run on though and Cyrus Casto will need to make big use of his occasional passes.  Defensively, it’s all about Tre Beard III to Blake Hartman.  A big day needed out of Caydan Keeler up front and Josh Kay in the secondary.

Mussleman’s Game Plan: Musselman will mix it up on the Vikings early to keep this from being a one-dimensional game. The Applemen are a little more versatile than the Vikings so they will give the Vikings a lot of different looks and provide them with a lot of field to defend- mixing up where they put Hartman.  If Musselman can shut down the Ripley run game early- it will be a long night for Vikings.  Put 14 up early, and their opponents will buy into what everyone else has been saying.  Let them stick around, and the pride might allow crazy things to happen.




#8 Point Pleasant at #1 Fairmont Senior


The Polar Bears are coming off a 50-point rout of #16 Lewis County, while the Big Blacks defeated #9 Mingo Central significantly. Fairmont Senior found success in the run game, while taking some pressure off Conner Neal last week, but it was their defense that performed the best. Point Pleasant’s victory was fueled by a massive game from Cason Payne. These two quarterbacks are set to clash Saturday at East-West Stadium in Fairmont, and we expect nothing short of a classic.

Point Pleasant’s Gameplan: Point Pleasant has been able to lean on their run game reliably all season with a talented offensive line and a slew of strong rushers- look for them to set the tone on the ground early.  Their line handled Spring Valley well and if they can give Payne time, he could put the Polar Bears in a position they haven’t been all season.  Defensively, DB’s need to play smart while the front needs to pressure Neal.

Fairmont Senior’s Gameplan: Both defenses will be pretty evenly matched, but the Point Pleasant secondary could have trouble containing the speed of Fairmont’s skill players and offensive scheming.  Their run game needs to set the tone early as well.  Defensively, the offense runs through Payne.  Disallow his scrambling and make him beat you with his arm.  This will be the most complex offense they have faced yet.



#7 Keyser at #2 Bluefield


Throughout the season, it seems that Bluefield has only gotten better at sharing the wealth. Last weeks win over Oak Hill truly was a team effort. Six different players scored a touchdown for Bluefield, showing that their attack is versatile, and their bench is deep. The Golden Tornado, on the other hand, play a little differently. Keyser has a very sturdy defense that they know they can rely on, and one of their best assets is their ability to capitalize on mistakes. Keyser may be one of the most disciplined teams in the state, trusting their game plan and execution and keeping mistakes to a minimum.

Keyser’s Gameplan: Keyser is expected to come out more run heavy and transition to the air as needed. They will likely try to limit passing attempt due to the overwhelming athleticism that the Beaver secondary possesses and shoot for off-guard passes. Defensively, it’s pretty straightforward.  The front seven needs to come to play.  They will have a fresh back with all-state talent in there every snap.   Nut up or shut up.

Bluefield’s Gameplan: We expect to see Bluefield try a number of different offensive approaches this weekend, but most of their scores will likely come on the ground due to their extremely talented stable of running backs and huge offensive line. Defensively, their front can contain Brady Clay. However, Keyser has a knack for hitting deep shots occasionally to Reggie Redman- can’t let them behind him.



#6 Robert C. Byrd at #3 Bridgeport


Now, this is a game where almost anything can happen. Bridgeport dominated a talented Frankfort team in the first round while Robert C. Byrd handled Shady Springs.  However, when these two squads met in Week #5 of the regular season, the contest was decided by only a touchdown. The first game was in Bridgeport, just as this one will be, but should we expect the same result?  This is by far the most evenly matched teams playing this week.

Robert C. Byrd’s Gameplan: The Eagles have an arguably better line and two all-state backs.  Bridgeport is never easy to run on, but the only reason they lost first time around was a late collapse.  Hold the lead.  Defensively, they might attempt passes to stretch the field but the Eagle secondary proved its worth last week against Shady Spring.  Focus most of the attention to Bowen.

Bridgeport’s Gameplan: Bridgeport took to the air last week placing their faith in quarterback Devin Vandergrift and found major success in the passing game- something not as polished in their first game with RCB. Use this to allow Bowen more running space. Defensively, the Eagles play into the Indians’ abilities. They are going to run it a lot. Win that battle and the rest is cake.



#12 Weir at #4 Nicholas County

WeirNicholas.pngThe Grizzlies dismantled the Vikings of Petersburg in their round one match-up, while Weir made short work of a very impressive Poca team. The Red Riders were led by Sebastian Spencer who accounted for more than 200 yards which came by way of rushing, passing, and receiving. Tyler Komorowski also saw quarterback action for Weir and proved that he can be lethal in the pocket as well as on the run. Nicholas County looked to Jacob O’Dell to find their success. O’Dell went for over 250 yards and found the endzone three times against Petersburg. These are two teams that have very different styles of play but seem like they couldn’t be more evenly matched.

Weir’s Gameplan: They are the best team the Grizzlies have seen yet.  Catch them off guard by putting Spencer in space for big plays.  Get them on their heels early then punish them with Kirby.  Defensively, load up and stop O’Dell.  Most of their passes come from complete coverage errors.  Smart play by the DB’s, and they are limited.

Nicholas County’s Gameplan: Weir seems to be hot so nothing cools a team down more than a steady run game. O’Dell should offer this. Play patient and win the field position battle. Also, they’ll need that same run defense they had last week to stop Weir on the ground. Force whichever quarterback is in there to beat you with his arm and hope the cold weather plays into your favor.




#9 Magnolia at #1 Wheeling Central


The rematch we all wanted is here.  The only team that has handed Wheeling Central a loss this year must go to their house and do it again.  The big difference now is that Curtis McGhee III is back and scored five times in a dominating Tyler Consolidated performance.  Magnolia had a similarly impressive performance against Pendelton County.  Both teams seem to be playing nearly their best ball so the true champ of this series will rise.

Magnolia’s Gameplan: This one is different.  Be prepared to keep up with McGhee and the offense.  They will not hold them to nine points again.  Limiting McGhee and containing Braden Price is key.  Try to make them run it.  Offensively, Patrick Mirandy needs to have a special day.  They are not easy to run or pass on.  If they can’t keep up every drive offensively, avoiding turnovers and making them play a long field is their best shot.

Wheeling Central’s Gameplan: With McGhee back, they must respect his ability to run instead of dropping everyone back to equal out with their athletes.  Spread them out and let them choose to see his ground game or try to man up on the talented receiving core.  Defensively, don’t give up a big play.  Magnolia most likely cannot sustain slow and long drives all night against their front.  Force them to play from behind then capitalize.



#7 Sherman at #2 Midland Trail


Two Coalfield Region teams are looking for a spot in the semifinals.  Both have had different paths but have been similarly dominant.  Sherman’s opening round was more impressive with a blowout victory of Parkersburg Catholic.  Midland Trail struggled early with Tucker County and also lost their offensive weapon, Austin Isaacs, at least for that game.  Both have renowned lines and a stable of ground players.  It will be a dogfight.

Sherman’s Gameplan: Isaacs will most likely try to tough out the high ankle sprain.  This limits his scramble ability.  Knowing this, Sherman can attribute more people to pass drops while letting the hogs hold the front.  Offensively, Sherman’s scheme doesn’t need much adjusting.  They run the ball with JT Hensley and Tommy Harper and a lot.  Do what got you here.

Midland Trail’s Gameplan: They will need Morgan Ferris to have another big game on the ground again.  This Tide defense is not easy on the run though.  Isaacs will need to stretch them with efficient passes.  Defensively, they have played many teams like this.  Stack the box and do your best to contain their rugged ground game.



#6 Williamstown at #3 Mount View


Mount View had a rough go of it in round one.  Only with minutes left did they look like a #3 seed.  Williamstown did not have a very dominating performance.  However, scores don’t matter.  Both teams won and both teams have talent.  They have contrasting styles and that should be an interesting matchup.  No one is really sure how this one will play out, but both seem to be deserving of a final eight spot.

Williamstown’s Gameplan: Mount View has struggled with run heavy teams that run a type of system.  Donathan Taylor could be their worst enemy if he gets going.  If they start stacking to adjust, Carter Haynes is more than capable as a playmaking QB.  Defensively, Mount View has more speed.  Summers County burnt them occasionally last week through the air but the ground game was stuffed.  Minimize big plays and play the run like they did last week.

Mount View’s Gameplan: It’s no secret they are going to get ran at.  Having patient backers will be key as well the defensive line holding their integrity.  Once that slips against the Yellowjackets, they slice for big yards.  Offensively, Williamstown is a great run defense.  However, they do handle vertical speed well.  Jesse Rose needs to consistently hit his main man Marqus Ray to keep the run game available and the offense churning.



#5 Cameron at #4 Doddridge County


Two of the only remaining undefeated Single A’s will go to battle.  Though playing vastly different schedules, both have had relatively easy roads with only one or two tests along the way.  Similar enough, they have capable passing attacks but rely on rushers both over 2000 yards rushing.  Expect a lot of fireworks from both sides and some tricks here and there.

Cameron’s Gameplan: Obviously, stop Hunter America.  Easier said than done.  Luckily, they have multiple all-staters in the secondary to limit Tanner Lett and allow them to stack up the box.  The Bulldogs defense has only fell victim to Tyler Consolidated in a shootout.  They could take notes with Aiden Lucey stopping up and making big-time passes to create an even run/pass attack that keeps them off-balance.

Doddridge County’s Gameplan: The Bulldogs will have a size advantage up front defensively.  Containing Ritchea will be a must.  It they can force them to put it in the air, that should work in their favor.  Offensively, do what you do.  If they devote too much attention to America, Lett needs to come through with good passes.  The Dragons do not make many mistakes- the Bulldogs will need to do the same.

First Round Review – TRIPLE A




#16 Hurricane at #1 Martinsburg

The final doesn’t show the type of fight that the Hurricane Redskins put up against the Bulldogs. The Hurricane defense gave Martinsburg all that they could handle, and even at that, Martinsburg still would pull away late in the game. The Redskins would stop the Bulldogs inside the five three times on the day. A feat that would keep the game manageable and respectable.  Grant Harman, Elijah Banks, and Matt Vanduzer would account for the first three scores which had them at 21-0 at the half.  Big plays by Jarod Bowie and Naieem Kearney pushed the lead to 35-0 where it would stay.  The Bulldogs will now host another MSAC foe in Parkersburg next week.



#15 Spring Mills at #2 Spring Valley
The reward for winning in week 11 to get into the state playoffs was to earn a drive to opposite part of the state to play one of the hottest teams. The state was in shock for a millisecond as Keon Padmore-Johnson instantly answered the Timberwolves opening touchdown was a bomb TD pass to tie it at 7.  However, Spring Valley would score 70 consecutive points to prove the fluke.  Will Adkins got the nod at QB and tossed three scores.  Kennedy Award candidate Graeson Malashevich score five times (two rush, two receiving, one punt).  The 77-7 final score explains this game quite well.  Spring Valley will host Huntington whom they beat two weeks ago.



#14 Morgantown at #3 Capital

Outclassed and outmatched. Two words that have been rarely used against a Mohigan program. However, that was the case. The Kerry Martin Jr. led Cougars raced out to a 28-0 first half lead and never looked back.  The Cougar defense held the Mohigans to just over 150 yards of offense while Martin tallied nearly 300 by himself.  Though the game was purely Capital, they did lose Huff Award candidate Breece Hoff in an ejection so he will sit out their quarterfinal matchup with Hedgesville.  They still won 42-0.



#13 John Marshall at #4 Musselman
The sloppiness of the field did not seem to be the sloppy part of the game. The Applemen racked up 18 penalties for a grand total of 175 yards. Didn’t seem to affect them much, however, as they were in full control of this game. Musselman hit over 570 total yards of offense and could not be stopped all day.  Eight of their touchdowns came by way of Tre Beard III- either set up by or to Blake Hartman.  The Monarchs run game was stumped by a very physical Applemen frontline.  Musselman won 60-14.  They will host another one-loss opponent, Ripley, next week.

#12 Greenbrier East at #5 Ripley
The Ghosts of MSAC pasts arrived in Ripley Friday night. Where the 6-4 Spartans met up with the 9-1 Vikings. This game was a little closer than the score says. The Spartans battled and had good momentum in the first half, capitizing on a few of the Vikings mistakes and losing a last second first half touchdown due to an illegal forward fumble in the endzone.  The Vikings found their footing after losing their main back for the season.  Jeremey Harper had three scores on the ground Cyrus Casto added two in the air as they cruised in the second half for a 43-15 victory.  They travel to Musselman next week.



#11 Hedgesville at #6 Parkersburg South
An instant classic to say the least. Hedgesville found themselves in an early hole due to a successful run game by Nick Yoho, but they crawled back to take the lead late.  Hedgesville first gained momentum with long bursts from N’iyjere Smith.  Being down 21-0 at the half, they used that momentum to not just climb back into but take a 28-21 lead.  However, Brayden Mooney put together a hellacious drive to once again regain the lead in dramatic fashion with only seconds remaining.  A successful two-point conversion gave them a 29-28 advantage.  Cue Smith, again.  He would take the final kickoff back for a score to devastate the Patriots and upset them on their own turf in the most unlikely fashion.  Now, Hedgesville hopes to carry that energy into a hostile Laidley Field against Capital.



#10 Cabell Midland at #7 Huntington

A hard-nosed rematch lived up to the hype.  As Cabell Midland did midseason, Huntington came out with a more run-heavy approach to avenge their loss.  Led by typical defensive star, Brocton Blair, they got up 7-0 early.  Both defenses held strong and it wasn’t until Highlander Diallo Mitchell broke out another big run to go up 14-0.  The Scarlet Knights had Huntington on its heel much of the night but only one Griffin Adkins run took advantage of their many trips into Highlander territory.  The mistakes cost Cabell Midland the game and gives Huntington a rematch with Spring Valley whom beat them two weeks ago.

#9 Parkersburg at #8 Wheeling Park

The rematch from the hook-and-ladder shootout classic in the regular season went differently but still just as exciting.  They traded blows piece by piece all game.  Shane Miller and Raphael Bradey/Kenya Robinson exchanged the first four scores on the ground to have it at 14-14.  It would stay this way as both defenses played much better than the original contest.  Parkersburg scored early in the fourth on Jake Johnson pass to Brenton Strange, who had 206 of Johnson’s 235 yards.  Alex Dunlevy quickly responded with his own touchdown drive.  It was Kionte Peacock, though, he would immediately return the kickoff for a 28-21 Big Red lead.  The Patriots had one last shot in Big Red territory but were stuffed on a 4th and inches.  The Big Reds now get to travel to Martinsburg and try and break their 39-game winstreak.

First Round Review – DOUBLE A




#16 Lewis County at #1 Fairmont Senior

There weren’t a lot of surprises in this contest as #1 Fairmont Senior cruised past Lewis County, just as they did in the regular season. Lewis County tried to rely on their run game, but the solid Polar Bear defense once again eliminated that threat. Fairmont Senior, however, had no problem running the football as they had 290 rushing yards on just 22 carries as an offense. The big offensive line of the Polar Bears is to thank for this. Though they were taking some pressure off of Conner Neal with a lucrative run game, he still managed to go 9 of 12 for 158 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Neal picked up the school record for single-season passing yards in the first quarter and is now cemented in Polar Bear history forever. The Polar Bears will face their toughest opponent of the season thus far next week as they host the Point Pleasant Big Blacks.



#15 Oak Hill at #2 Bluefield

The Bluefield Beavers also made short work of a previously defeated opponent as they dominated the Oak Hill Red Devils in their first-round contest. The Beaver defense came up huge, holding Oak Hill to 75 total yards and stifling the duo of Khori Bass and Abe Farrow. It was a group offensive effort for Bluefield with JJ Davis racking up 94 yards, Arnold Martin getting three touchdowns, and Chandler Cooper throwing for just under 50 yards.  The Beavers put up an insane 35 points in the first quarter alone and had shortened quarters and running clock to finish a 56-7.  Bluefield will host Keyser this weekend at Mitchell Stadium.



#14 Frankfort at #3 Bridgeport

The Bridgeport Indians, a team known for their hard-nosed running attack, took to the skies last week as they defeated Frankfort with a potent passing attack. The Frankfort defense diverted all their attention to slowing running-back Jake Bowen and left themselves especially vulnerable to the passing game. Bridgeport QB Devin Vandergrift went 5 for 5 118 yards and two touchdowns while Bowen rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Though 14-13 early, Bridgeport wore down the Falcons to an eventual 49-13.  The Indians will face Robert C. Byrd in the second round in a rematch of their regular season contest.



#13 Petersburg at #4 Nicholas County

On an ugly, cold, rainy night in Summersville, the Nicholas County Grizzlies marched their way to victory over the Petersburg Vikings. The Nicholas secondary had been somewhat of a question mark this season, but they had a phenomenal showing last week as they were able to ground the Viking’s lethal passing attack.  Though Jacob Hartman had some stellar passes and drives, redzone fumbles, dropped passes, and playing behind the sticks from penalties killed many drivers. Jacob O’Dell led the charge on offense racking up 259 yards and three touchdowns for the Grizzlies.  Their defensive line kept the Vikings at bay the entire night with a 41-10 victory.  Nicholas County will host Weir, who knocked off #5 Poca substantially last week.



#12 Weir at #5 Poca

The Red Riders of Weir pulled off an impressive upset in the first round as they dominated the #12 seed Poca 41-14.  Weir’s Sebastian Spencer came up huge in the contest running for 172 yards, passing for 91, and catching 5 passes for 119 yards. Spencer racked up four touchdowns, while Tyler Komorowksi added two more touchdowns and 161 yards in the air. The two-way system seemed to work and the weather limited Jay Cook passing.  Weir was the only lower-seed AA to win as they cruised to a 41-21 win.  Weir advances and will travel to Summersville next week to battle with Nicholas County.



#11 Shady Spring at #6 Robert C. Byrd
A strong defensive performance carried the Eagles of Robert C. Byrd to a win over Shady Spring. RCB managed to put up 35 points, but it was the stellar defensive play of Andrew Sponaugle that broke the Tigers’ spirits. Sponaugle intercepted Shady’s Drew Clark three times in just the first half, shutting down the Tiger’s air attack. Ghovan Davidson was RCB’s main offensive weapon rushing for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremiah King added 155 yards and three additional scores. The Tigers did stay within reach but the opposition’s ground game wore them down by the second half as RCB would win 35-12.  The Eagles will go across town in what is to be an incredible rematch with Bridgeport.



#10 Wayne at #7 Keyser

The score doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story about the Wayne and Keyser matchup. The Golden Tornadoes ultimately came away with the 28-8 win, but the Pioneers of Wayne squandered multiple opportunities. Of the five times Wayne got into the red zone, they only scored on one of those possessions. Keyser quarterback Ryan Shoemaker led the charge for the Golden Tornado’s rushing for 116 yards and scoring two touchdowns with two two-point conversions.  Simply put, both ground games churned all night but it was the Golden Tornado who made the most of their opportunities.   Keyser will head down south to battle the Beavers in Bluefield next week in the quarter finals.



#9 Mingo Central at #8 Point Pleasant

In a rematch of an opening night game that came down to the wire, the result differed from the original dramatically. Point Pleasant edged the miners by one score on the first game of the season on Miner Mountain. However, when the Miners travelled to Point Pleasant, things weren’t as close. Things were neck and neck at the half due to Daylin Goad keeping up offensively with Cason Payne- being within in a score at the break.  However, the second half was owned by the Big Blacks and Payne’s long runs which allowed him to end up with six scores.  The defense stiffened and the Miners went home in the opening round for the first time in years.  With the 65-36 victory, Point Pleasant advances to the quarterfinals where they will travel to Fairmont to face off with the #1 seed Polar Bears.

First Round Review – SINGLE A




#16 Tyler Consolidated at #1 Wheeling Central

Well, Curtis McGhee III made his return and was quite the difference.  After missing three games (two close wins and their only loss), the star quarterback had quite a game.  Nearing 300 yards passing and five touchdowns- he and Braden Price got back on track for over 100 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.  We saw fight out of Tyler with an early 97 yard pass from Griffin Phillips to Mark Rucker, however, the Maroon Knights would finish the first quarter up 34-6.  The dominating #1 seed proved that they were okay especially with McGhee back.  They would cruise to a 61-30 win and get a rematch with Magnolia two weeks after their only defeat.



#15 Tucker County at #2 Midland Trail

This game went as expected with a late Midland Trail rally to seal the deal.  However, what was not expected was Patriots’ QB Austin Isaacs to leave the game in the first quarter.  The backup QB, Chris Vines, was taken down for a safety in the second quarter which gave Tucker County a 2-0 lead that lasted through the half.  However, they only had 46 yards of offense on the night and as Vines got more comfortable and Morgan Ferris picked up his load as the runner, the Patriots outscored their guests by 14 in the second half for a 14-2 victory.  They will host a dangerous Sherman team next week, and the chances of Isaacs returning are not known.



#14 Ritchie County at #3 Mount View

This was one of the more thrilling contests in the first round.  It started as expected with a hard-nosed Mount View drive capped by a Terry Headen TD run.  However, the Rebels quickly countered with their own drive and score to go behind 7-6.  Elijah
Barner answered again in the early second and was only matched in the third by Ritchie County- Mount View held a 13-12 lead.  The momentum turned when the Rebels pinned the Knights deep on a punt and followed it with safety.  Up 14-13 with only three minutes left, Ritchie County could not hold off Barner, a senior, for a go-ahead score.  The Rebels were then intercepted and Barner scored yet again- going up 28-14 just like that.  Another late Ritchie turnover was capitalized for another Mount View touchdown for a startling 21 points to end the game 34-12.  They will host Williamstown in round two.



#13 Webster County at #4 Doddridge County

Doddridge County took the field and so did the state’s leading rusher after one game out.  They immediately took a 27-point lead over the outmatched Webster County.  Hunter America was given the rock a multitude of times for an incredible six touchdowns and over 300 yards rushing- four scores came in the first.  Though Luke Hardway and the Highlanders stayed fighting- there was no stopping the Bulldog run game.  Doddridge County stayed undefeated with the 40-14 win and now look to take on the only other undefeated Single A program in round two: Cameron.



#12 Van at #5 Cameron

After back-to-back years of losing in the first round, the Dragons took care of Van.  The Dragons’ story was taking advantage of Bulldog mistakes.  With the opening kickoff fumbled and capitalized by an Andrew Ritchea touchdown run and a late Gavin Smith deep pass fumbled and countered with another Ritchea score- Cameron, behind some good throws by Jessop Broughton, built a 24-0 lead early in the first half.  The defense held strong as Van attempted a late resurgence but a bend don’t break mentality stalled many drives as the Dragons won 30-12.  Ritche finished with over 200 yards as they go on the road to Doddridge County next week.



#11 Summers County at #6 Williamstown

The story of this game came in ground vs air.  As the Yellowjackets limited Marcus McGuire, it was up to Timmy Persiani to keep Summers County in it.  With Donathan Taylor running well, Williamstown maintained a steady lead that was cut short in the second after a series of long passes by Persiani and a score right before the half to have Summers County only down 14-12.  However, Williamstown adjusted defensively while the Bobcats lacked an answer for Taylor, who finished with over 150 yards.  They would run the ball and clock out of the stadium for the 27-12 win.  They will travel to Mount View in the quarterfinals.



#10 Parkersburg Catholic at #7 Sherman

In one of the muddier games around the state, the Tide’s ground game found success unlike their opponent’s.  In dominating fashion, Parkersburg Catholic’s offense was littered with three-and-outs.  While every possession for the Tide was a rushing TD that had them up 21-0 in the first.  This theme continued as the Crusaders, who had two backs combined for over 3000 yards rushing, had -11 rushing yards as a team in the first half.  JT Hensley and Tommy Harper never let them in it as the field worsened.  Sherman would win 44-8 and prepare to go into Hico and upset #2 Midland Trail next week.



#9 Magnolia at #8 Pendleton County

One week off their best win of the year and Magnolia made the long drive to Pendleton County.  In sloppy field conditions, both offenses got off to quick starts.  After exchanging opening touchdowns, the Wildcats were deep in Magnolia territory.  Insert a goal line stand and full-field drive capped off by a Gage Adams touchdown run.  The score would go 14-6 into the half.  The third quarter back was storied by two blocked punts by the Eagles- one resulting in a touchdown and the other in a safety for a safe 22-6 lead.  The conditions disallowed any Pendleton comeback and Magnolia would win 28-6.  They rematch with Wheeling Central in the quarterfinals.

2018 C&C Playoff Preview: ROUND ONE (AAA)

#16 Hurricane at #1 Martinsburg


If any team in WV has the pedigree and history to upset the Bulldogs, it is the Redskins. Many of the football experts remember who ended South Charleston third straight State Championship bid.  Martinsburg is currently on the longest winstreak in state history with no signs of slowing down.  This has been mostly done without Dewayne Grantham too.  The Redskins, per usual, have suffered some hard and odd losses while blowing out seemingly elite teams.  The wildcard we know them to be.

Martinsburg’s Gameplan: Expect the full playbook from the Bulldogs. They will want to end this game quickly and eliminate any hope of the Redskin upset. Martinsburg will spread the Redskin defense out and get the ball in the open field much like Capital.  Hurricane has zero men that can consistently cover Jarod Bowie or Teddy Turner.   Defensively expect pure man coverage from the Bulldogs and you will see eight and nine in the box to stop Christian Hill early.  Grant Harman and Elijah Banks look to have impressive days.

Hurricane’s Gameplan: Hurricane will try and play some ground and pound early and also try to eat up clock. Martinsburg will have to be flat or give a few turnovers for this to work. Hurricane does have a very good line and will have the ability to do this, but if they end up playing from behind then plan B does not exist. Defensively, they will play soft and not give up big plays but problem is the Bulldogs have this part of their game down with Naieem Kearney capable of crunching away with big runs waiting to set a Harman/Banks deep bomb.



#15 Spring Mills at #2 Spring Valley


This was not a good matchup for the Cardinals. Nobody on their schedule gives them the same look that Spring Valley does. The Spring Valley line is bigger than most WVIAC lines and rivals many Division One schools in size and strength. The skill set in the Timberwolves backfield is deceiving with speed and has fared quite well against teams that try to spread them out.  Expect the spread behind Keon Padmore-Johnson to move the ball in a fashion similar to Point Pleasant.

Spring Mills’ Gameplan: Use the emotions of making the playoffs and the underdog tag to get a few turnovers and jump on the Timberwolves. That will be important for the Cardinals to jump on the Wolves and get a few scores early to keep Spring Valley team behind the clock and possibly make them do something they don’t want to do. Clean and efficient drives are needed, even if they aren’t scoring drives. Eliminate Malashevich from special teams plays as well.

Spring Valley’s Gameplan:  Line up and do what you do. Spring Mills does not match up. Don’t expect anything fancy by the Wolves and eliminate turnovers, and this will be a good night. The Timberwolves are battle tested by playing brutal smash mouth teams (Huntington and Midland) and successful against spread teams (Capital). Rely on Graeson Malashevich and Owen Chafin to do what they do, and the rest will come.



#14 Morgantown at #3 Capital


Will the real Morgantown please stand up?  Injuries marched the Mohicans into a mid-season slump. Once they got heeled up they became the team everyone thought they would be after the big win against the Big Reds. Capital is loaded in the skill positions again this year, and it runs deep into the roster. The Cougars do have some kryptonite on the line of scrimmage. That is where the game will be decided it seems.

Morgantown’s Gameplan: The Morgantown team of the last two weeks better be the one to show up Friday night. If not this one will get ugly because Capital will be jacked for the Upset Alert talk. Morgantown will spread the field and play 7 on 6 in the box because they have arguably a better line in this game. If their line shows up this game is a must-see game, and if not- warm the buses early. Defensively they have a problem with stopping the big plays deep and contain Martin at QB. If you drop back to stop the big plays he can take off and beat you by himself. Spying is hard at this level. Clean play in all three phases is needed.

Capital’s Gameplan: Nobody plays as good in the big games than Capital. The players from Capital really play up to their opponent better than anyone. With all the talk of upset alerts all over the state expect the Cougars to be jacked up Friday night. One thing is a must in that Capital will not win the turnover battle if that becomes the issue of the game. They must protect the ball and do their thing with their spread out speed.  Defensively, tighten the box and wait for playmakers to stop the drives.



#13 John Marshall at #4 Musselman


Most years if there is an upset in AAA it comes from 4-13 or 5-12 games. This is a nice matchup for both teams. Problem here is John Marshal has no real big victory to brag about but has played in big games. Their offense has been very different and hit and miss but consistently touts RB Chas McCool.  Musselman has had some success against playoff teams and is extremely difficult to beat at home.  They have electric players but overall bigger holes than the three teams in front of them.

John Marshall’s Gameplan: Come out smoking hot and get the lead. Musselman’s defense is excellent regardless of the stats, they don’t’ mind a ground and pound game. Spread them out and find the spots and make them play from behind. Defensively, contain Hartman on the ground and hope Beard isn’t hot throwing the ball. With Wood and Frohnapfel in the secondary, they should be in the advantage in this facet.

Musselman’s Gameplan: Just do what you do. John Marshall has not shown they have a team that can come into this atmosphere and win so just don’t give it to them. Mussleman’s defense is pretty good. They are battle tested and other than against Martinsburg, they are just going to play very sound base defense, and make John Marshall do something they have shown they can’t do.  Have the ball in Tre Beard III and Blake Hartman’s hands at all costs.


#12 Greenbrier East at #5 Ripley


The football gods were smiling on both these teams. They could not have asked for any better matchup other than each other. This may be the best game of the night in regards of competitiveness. Ripley has home field advantage and a much more mature team, and they will need to show that. Greenbrier East was a surprise team in the AAA field this year and must not be happy just getting here. This is an old school battle of wills in the regard of East trying to make big plays and Ripley wanting to smash it all night so whoever establishes their will owns the game.

Greenbrier East’s Gameplan: Play like you belong here- not happy to be here. Most years East is built to play smash mouth but not this year. They will bring all pages of the playbook on offense and make the Vikings play from behind. Expect the Spartans to be wider open in their approach and use a lot of plays. Defensively, the only answer East has is to bring the heat. East is a 3-4 team so slants by the front with some loop stunts by the ILB will provide a different blitz scheme than a lot of teams use and will cause the Vikings problems early potentially.

Ripley’s Gameplan: Ripley is a very physical team to play against. They will flat out smack you in the mouth regardless of the situation with RJ Evans and Josh Kay. Loaded with veterans on both sides of the ball and home field advantage they will just try to beat East up. Just keep it simple and don’t turn over the ball and do their thing. Defensively, just don’t fall in the trap of playing from behind because they are not built for that. The Vikings will bring their A game defensively to blitz and confuse a young Spartan team.



#11 Hedgesville at #6 Parkersburg South


Hedgesville is a very dangerous team offensively. They can move the chains and have many talented skill players like Owie Ash, N’iyjere Smith, and Malakai Brown. However, they are not built for the mud and the rain. See South’s football field to see if we have mud and rain as a factor because South is built to do both ground and pound or spread it out. Hedgesville has zero big wins on their schedule. South is battle tested from all over the state and has a few big wins notched on their belt. Both teams are coming off big losses after hotstreaks.

Hedgesville’s Gameplan: The Eagles will come out blazing with a spread it and shred it approach. They will try to go as fast as they can to hurt the blitz calls of South and make them play in space. This is important to the Eagles. If they play slow and make this a game of the trenches, they will lose. South is simply better on the line than Hedgesville. However, watch the skill set of the Eagles cause headaches for the Patriots. Hedgesville will play very aggressive against the Patriots because they cannot afford to get in a dog fight. They will want to make the Patriots play on long downs.

Parkersburg South’s Gameplan: Look for South to come out aggressively on offense. After a big loss, they will want to get the bad taste out of their mouth. They will use their advantage in the trenches to wear down the Eagles via Nick Yoho and Brayden Mooney. So, expect a good mix of spread out and run and pack it in to run and make sure that the Eagles defense gets a good dose of the trench works. Defensively, it is a key to not give up big plays and after last week they will have to do a better job of doing that. The Patriots will be far more aggressive with blitzes Friday than last week. Force the QB to throw it early instead of soft coverages.



#10 Cabell Midland at #7 Huntington


Round #2 will go to?  This will be an old school slobber knocker. Unfortunately, this is the worse matchup for both teams. Whomever wins this game may not have anyone left to play the next one. Both these teams have played a murderous schedule down the stretch. Both teams rely on massive lines and aggressive defensive play. Both teams will want this game to be a ground and pound game. This is simply an evenly matched game that will be decided on a turnover or special teams play. Problem is they both know each other so well there is zero way to trick each other.
Cabell Midland’s Gameplan: After a What the Heck Are You Doing moment early in the year, the Knights went back to doing what they do best, and that is smash you in the mouth. They will do what they do behind Ivan and Isaiah Vaughn. They have a good set of hard nose backs and an aggressive line so expect short traps, belly, power and you just have to stop it! Expect them to take shot play anytime to force Huntington on their heels. Defensively, the Knights are simply going to pin their ears back and come after the Highlanders. They will not be scared of the opponent QB Friday night so just bring the house and play on Huntington’s side of the ball.

Huntington’s Gameplan: Huntington is a lot more multiple on offense than people give them credit. They will use a few more packages than most games to try and find a few plays here and there to move the chains. They will simply ride their big line and then play action pass in key situations through Tay Blackwell. This formula is successful for the Highlanders so why change? Expect a spread package play at a vital down and distance situation to move the chains. Defensively, stop the belly and stop the trap at all cost.



#9 Parkersburg at #8 Wheeling Park


Round #2 and some are wondering if there will be a third digit on the scoreboard. This was a track meet the first time. The Big Reds are simply a different team since Strange has come back, and they seem to have little problem moving the ball. Both teams are battle tested and has played a very impressive schedule. Neither are afraid to play anyone and dodge nobody. We don’t expect the same offensive output in this, though.

Parkersburg’s Gameplan: Parkersburg has a thee-headed monster on offensive and that will give even the best of team’s problems with Jake Johnson, Tyler Moler, and Strange. They can spread it out and throw all over the place, run all over the place, and has a QB that is peaking at the end of the year. Expect no changes to their game plan. Defense is the Big Reds achilles heel. They have a hard time stopping people. They are going to load up early to stop the consistent running and see if Dunlevy can put up over 45 points again.

Wheeling Park’s Gameplan: Park defense is an old school 34, and they don’t change to much, however, it does put their secondary in a tough spot at times. Expect a few new wrinkles, defensively. Park has nobody to match up with Strange, and they sure don’t want another track meet. Park does have a very good pass rush though. Offensively, ride Kenya Robinson and Rafael Bradley until they give Alex Dunlevy space to hit Jack Stakem.  With Strange and Kionte Peacock in the secondary- it is not very forgiving.

2018 C&C Playoff Preview: ROUND ONE (AA)

#16 Lewis County at #1 Fairmont Senior


The Polar Bears are entering the playoffs with an unblemished record after playing one of the toughest strength of schedules in the entire state. Led by one of the frontrunners for the Kennedy Award in Connor Neal, Fairmont Senior’s ferocious passing attack has been the downfall of teams such as Bridgeport, Weir, Robert C. Byrd, and University (AAA). The Lewis County Minutemen have reached this contest by compiling a 6-4 record and securing their biggest wins over the likes of North Marion and Buckhannon-Upshur. The Minutemen are led by quarterback Caden Rohrbough and running-back Marshall Hobbs.  They have talented line and have held close with good teams.  However, their early matchup with the Polar Bears did not go well.

Fairmont Senior’s Gameplan: Fairmont Senior will be leaning on their powerful offensive and defensive lines anchored by senior Nathan Clifton and junior Zach Frazier. If the Polar Bears are able to protect Neal, then Coach Bartic will likely press the Polar Bear passing attack. The Polar Bear defense will need to be prepared for Lewis County’s crafty runners, but they have allowed less than 10 points per game to opponents throughout the season, so the Minutemen will be essentially running into a brick wall.

Lewis County’s Gameplan: Lewis County will be travelling up to East-West stadium, which is only about an hour commute, but the Minutemen were 2-3 on the road in the regular season, which could make this matchup even tougher for them. Lewis County will no doubt attempt to hold possession for as long as possible and use their strong runners to chew up clock while methodically grinding down the field. The Minutemen felt the wrath of Conner Neal earlier in the year, so their best chance is to try to limit the Polar Bear’s possessions and keep the pressure on Neal throughout the night.



#15 Oak Hill at #2 Bluefield


The Beavers of Bluefield enter the playoffs as the #2 seed after suffering only one loss in the regular season. However, behind a slew of powerful linemen and a seemingly endless supply of talented skill players they remain undefeated against any West Virginia team, their sole loss coming against Lord Botetourt High School of Virginia. Their opponent, the Oak Hill Red Devils, enter the playoffs at 7-3 with losses to undefeated Nicholas County, “A” unbeaten Midland Trail, and their upcoming opponent Bluefield.  The Red Devils have a veteran line, dual-threat QB Khori Bass, and breakout star RB/WR Abe Farrow.  They, however, were crushed by Bluefield earlier in 2018.

Bluefield’s Gameplan: Bluefield will likely be taking the same approach to this game as they have all others; dominate the line of scrimmage and get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Coach Fred Simon is no stranger to the playoffs, and you can be certain he will have his team prepared for their playoff matchup as he enters his 33rd year as the head coach of the Beavers. Expect to see senior Juice Edwards get a fair amount of carries as well as Arnold Martin and JJ Davis. The Beavers will likely keep the ball on the ground and try to find success in the run game before going to the air, and the way they’ve been running the ball thus far, we may not see Quarterback Chandler Cooper throw a single pass in the contest.

Oak Hill’s Gameplan: We’re fairly certain that Oak Hill will spearhead their offensive attack with the dynamic duo that is Khori Bass and Abraham Farrow. Bass and Farrow have been a force to be reckoned with in the southern part of the state this year, but Oak Hill’s defense is still a big question mark. The Red Devils gave up 47 to both Wyoming East and Nicholas County while Pikeview managed to score 35. With as many weapons as Bluefield has, this can certainly be problematic, but as we know anything can happen in the playoffs.



#14 Frankfort at #3 Bridgeport


The Indians fell short of a perfect season by one game, but they look just as powerful as if they had gone undefeated. Bridgeport’s only loss came at the hand of Fairmont Senior, but they had many close contests along the way. AAA Buckhannon-Upshur and Robert C. Byrd both nearly took down the Indians, only falling by 1 and 6 points respectively. Frankfort doesn’t play one of the stronger schedules in the state, but finished 8-2 nonetheless. Their biggest wins include a 28-point victory over the Petersburg Vikings and a 36-point win over Berkeley Springs.  They have had a bounce back year thanks to two talented backs and an improved defense.  This one might be closer than people might expect.
Bridgeport’s Gameplan: Bridgeport is traditionally known for their big, powerful offensive linemen and hard- nosed backs who aren’t afraid to fight for yardage. This year is likely to be no different as the Indians will rely heavily on star tailback Jake Bowen. However, Bridgeport can’t be afraid to go to the air and put their faith in quarterback Devin Vandergrift, a weapon that has been extremely underutilized throughout the season.

Frankfort’s Gameplan: Frankfort is also a run-heavy team that will likely devote most of their snaps to the ground game. Coach Whiteman is expected to put the ball into the hands of his two main playmakers Nick Marley and Dalton Pollock. These two backs have the ability to cut and run, but also bring a special strength factor to the field. These teams have met a total of five times in the past, including the 2014 state championship. Frankfort has never beaten the Indians.



#13 Petersburg at #4 Nicholas County


Possibly one of the most impressive teams we’ve seen in “AA” this season, Nicholas County enters the playoffs as the only undefeated “AA” squad aside from Fairmont Senior.  The Grizzlies made short work of almost all of their opponents; the only game that they won by less than a 20-point deficit was a 2-point victory over the Shady Spring Tigers who earned a #11 playoff seed. The Petersburg Vikings enter the playoffs at 7-2 after a WVSSAC error led to referees not being present for their Week #3 contest against Grafton, which resulted in a cancellation of the game. Petersburg lost a tight contest to Weir in the regular season but amassed a huge 32-point victory over Tucker County shortly after.
Nicholas County’s Gameplan: Quarterback Jared Sagraves has had an outstanding season for the Grizzlies thus far, but the game plan will likely be centered around the run game to attempt to expose Petersburg’s lack of size. Expect to see Jacob O’Dell get the bulk of the carries in the contest as Nicholas County attempts to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  Sagraves, if forced to throw, will need to find multiple receivers instead of his favorite target Nick Kiser.

Petersburg’s Gameplan: Petersburg will likely come in with a different strategy. The Vikings are expected to go to the air and rely on the strong passing attack led by quarterback Jacob Hartman. Tyce Wisnewski and Peyton Singledecker will likely be Hartman’s main targets, while we can expect to see running-back Zack Wampler get the majority of carries on the ground.  This one could turn into a ground vs ground or air vs air- it is hard to tell.



#12 Weir at #5 Poca


Though Weir was the cover child of our magazine, Poca has been the Cinderella story thus far.  Going from breaking a 35+ game losing streak to finishing 9-1 is a big accomplishment.  They are legitimately good with great wins.  Jay Cook, Dakota Meadows, and Bronson Skeens lead this team now that all-star Ethan Payne is out with injury.  Weir also suffered a down stretch with Tyler Komorowski out, but he is back (not sure if 100%).  However, they still have three down back Donovan Kirby and electric athlete Sebastian Spencer that has been pinnacle in yet another playoff appearance.

Weir’s Gameplan: Depending on if Komorowski is healthy, they will give certain loads to Kirby.  The Dots’ front is underrated and is not easy to run on.  Their secondary is not easy to throw over either.  A solid mix of Spencer spreading the offense out (if QB) and Kirby off tackle could get a repeat result of Wayne’s performance last week.  Stopping the offense will need for Reed Reitter to keep his eye on Skeens stretching the field.

Poca’s Gameplan: Owen McClanahan will need to have a big game.  Weir’s secondary is talented, and they will have to be patience marching the ball down the field.  Defensively, if they load up and stop Kirby the Red Riders are in trouble.  Depending on if Komorowski is at QB, their pass attack is lackluster and could have the visitor’s on their heels early.




#11 Shady Spring at #6 Robert C. Byrd


Shady Spring broke back into the playoffs after recovering from their years in AAA.  They played a weaker schedule but still had some impressive games including a close battle with Nicholas County.  Led by veteran back Tyler Bragg and all-state linemen.  Robert C. Byrd has an impressive resume with their only losses coming to #1 and #3.  They have the most prolific runningback in school history, Ghovan Davidson, and another explosive offensive weapon Jeremiah King.  Their line on both sides is what has gotten them to this point though.

Shady Spring’s Gameplan: Load that box.  Stopping Davidson means everything and will require Xavier Lopez to throw the ball.  He is capable but the Eagles would much rather go to their duo of backs.  Offensively, they will need to utilize their two-QBs for a long passes.  If they can pull the back seven off, then it might allow for them to move the ball on the ground as well.

Robert C. Byrd’s Gameplan: Use their runners and bully the Tigers up front.  We expect Davidson and King to make plays early and the line to set the tone.  Defensively, they have seen much more potent offenses.  Shady does have decent speed but nothing that outmatches them.  If they stay within their wits, they should win this by several scores.



#10 Wayne at #7 Keyser


Both of these perennial powers lived up to their program history.  Wayne, despite starting 0-2, has won eight straight and ran through the Cardinal Conference including giving Poca their first loss.  Keyser has also had a stellar season.  This included some crazy comebacks and finished up with a close battle to #3 Bridgeport and winning back-to-back rivalry games.  Both feature all-state backs, stout defenses, and underrated pass games.

Wayne’s Gameplan: Last week they got back to business riding Bartram in the run game for his best offensive game of the season.  Keyser might be a little tougher to run on but their offensive isn’t as deadly as Poca’s- who they shutout.  Once they get Brady Clay’s number (if they do), they need to watch out for Shoemaker hitting Reggie Redman over top.

Keyser’s Gameplan: The Golden Tornado will need to load up and go toe-to-toe with that tough Pioneer run game.  Wayne is good through the air but have not faired well in shootouts.  Their run defense is also good but do not seem to have a clear answer on how they will consistently cover Redman.  A balanced approach on both sides while avoiding their usual penalty problem should make this a good one.




#9 Mingo Central at #8 Point Pleasant


Lucky us!  Our third installment of Point Pleasant vs Mingo Central in two years.  Every time is a classic.  The season began with a surprise (to us) that the Miners had not dropped off much.  Since that close loss, Daylin Goad has done nothing but improved with his two all-state bound brothers Drew and Devin Hatfield alongside RB Dougie Dillon.  Point, however, has lived up to their hype.  Cason Payne is efficient, tough, and has weapons such as Josh Wamsley.  Their line went head-to-head with Spring Valley for over a half.  Both are serious title candidates.

Mingo Central’s Gameplan: If Spring Valley is any indication, the Big Blacks play good in the box.  The Miners need to spread it out and do their thing with Goad.  This is a youthful group going into one of the hardest environments in the state.  There isn’t much planning other than letting stars be stars while also doing their best limiting Payne and his crew.

Point Pleasant’s Gameplan: They will need to be better in the secondary this time around as the Miners have improved since then.  Poca won by putting pressure on them early and striking vertically often.  Payne’s arm will be the difference as if this turns into a shootout- will be needed.  They will have a romping home crowd behind him to help things.

2018 C&C Playoff Preview: ROUND ONE (A)

#16 Tyler Consolidated at #1 Wheeling Central


Tyler Consolidated was a promising team that snuck into the back half of the playoffs the final week.  They had some honorable performances but also some very lackluster ones against other playoff foes.  Their rating is not favorable despite two surefire all-state offensive weapons.  The Maroon Knights have struggled the last few weeks playing without superstar quarterback Curtis McGhee III.  The defense has held strong and only a hungry Magnolia team last week has blemished their record.  With or without McGhee III suiting up- this one favors the defending champs.

Tyler Consolidated’s Gameplan: The first step is hoping McGhee III isn’t playing.  However, if the Maroon Knights get spooked, and he was questionable- he’d probably go in.  The Silver Knights defense would need have some lucky breaks as they have not been great.  If they get enough good fortunes, they could rely on Mark Rucker and Griffin Philips to make some electric plays and gain momentum.  Basically, recreate the Doddridge County game but with a better finish.

Wheeling Central’s Gameplan: Do what they do.  They are the defending champs for a reason.  Lean on Vinny Mangino and Adam Murray to slow down the run game so Anthony Robbins can increase his pick tally when Tyler is forced to throw.  Depending on who gets the start at quarterback, we expect a lot of reliance on Braden Price to carry the ball and build confidence for Jake Rine if he is in there.  Regardless for Rine, his last three games have been against much better defenses.



#15 Tucker County at #2 Midland Trail


Tucker County has changed the narrative back over behind some great coaching and favorable schedule.  With Cole Rapp leading the way on offense and a statistically sound defense, they have had a great year indeed.  However, 0-3 against playoff teams is a big tell.  Midland Trail has only played one playoff team, and it was AA Oak Hill.  That means they can handle speed.  Expect more of a nitty gritty matchup as the Great Wall of Hico want to keep that Tucker County offense stagnant and allow for Austin Isaacs to slowly build a lead with his dual-threat ability.

Tucker County’s Gameplan: Midland Trail is a second half team.  They allow almost every team they have beaten to hang around into the third quarter mostly.  This plays into the hands of 15th seed trying to pull an upset.  If their defense gets a hang of the Patriots’ offense and pulls a few lucky breaks here and there.  If there is any tricks or concepts sitting in the playbook, that early fourth quarter could be the perfect time to pull them.

Midland Trail’s Gameplan: Don’t panic.  As any undefeated team should do- do what got you there, which is a solid defense and an efficient balanced offense.  They do not have to worry much about Tucker County’s offense so Austin Isaacs should feel relaxed even if the game stays close for awhile.  Wait for the big plays.  Hopefully, they all have experience on how to handle lower rated teams especially after their upset loss to #11 Summers County last year.



#14 Ritchie County at #3 Mount View


Two teams that we all potentially saw in the playoffs but could not guarantee.  Ritchie County has turned the tables with a new coach and put up an impressive season.  The only playoff team they defeated was Tyler to start the year.  They mix it up offensively but most recently have relied on runningback Tre Moss.  Mount View has been excellent mostly every game.  They possess a lot of speed and decent size.  With the ability to strike overtop at anytime- it has really opened up the ground game.

Ritchie County’s Gameplan: They should be watching Tolsia and PikeView (one lost by six and the other won by two).  Mount View typically gets offset with big offensive lines and ground and pound style.  Though they can play to it, they cannot run away with the lead.  If the Rebels can set the tempo and perhaps put the pressure on the Golden Knights, who are in the playoffs for the first time in a decade, perhaps they could cause even more mistakes.

Mount View’s Gameplan: For Mount View, they have a handful of weapons to use.  They have Elijah Barner and Ty Powell in the backfield.  They have Jesse Rose throwing to Marqus Ray.  There are several other threats on both sides.  As they have done all season, they need to find which one the opposing team has least prepared for and exploit it all night.  Man for man, they outmatch Ritchie County.  Find the weakness and go win the game.



#13 Webster County at #4 Doddridge County


Webster County started the year with high hopes only for a very slow start.  Yet, at that, they have found themselves in the playoffs.  Luke Hardway has had an excellent senior year, and he means absolutely everything to this team.  That could be their downfall as the Bulldogs are deep.  Behind a relatively massive offensive/defensive line is a bulk of stars.  We all know of state-leading rusher Hunter America, but we have also experienced how lethal Tanner Lett and Griffin Devericks are passing/receiving.

Webster County’s Gameplan: They will need for some players to step up and a lot of good fortune.  Praying for bad weather might not even help.  Luke Hardway will stand out but the team they are going against is very well-coached.  Basically, bank on the defense scoring some fortunate turnovers while also sustaining long drives with the legs of Hardway.

Doddridge County’s Gameplan: The Bulldogs have played this style team many times this year.  Star-led team with some good talent around.  However, it is very simple.  Hand the ball off to Hunter America.  Let the big line pave the way and when the box gets stacked, let Tanner Lett kill them over the top.  It should be another week for Doddridge County in this one.



#12 Van at #5 Cameron


Van has been another unexpected playoff contender.  With new staffing and a star quarterback, the tide turned this season.  Though they did not play one playoff contender until the final week of the season- they did take care of business until then.  Cameron also only played one playoff team out of Pennsylvania, but their’s was to start the year.  Cameron has a very diverse offense full of plenty of speed and size.  However, their main weapon is star back Andrew Ritchea.

Van’s Gameplan: Offensively, Gavin Smith at quarterback could be enough electricity to keep them in it.  The problem is that Cameron has two all-staters in the secondary (potentially more).  They will need to figure out a run game.  Defensively, the Dragons do not make many mistakes.  Initially, they have to stop Ritchea, which is easier said than done.  Then, basically, make the most of opportunities.

Cameron’s Gameplan: The Dragon’s outmatch Van in almost every facet.  They could spread it out and let Aiden Lucey hit his bundle of receivers or stick to Andrew Ritchea on the ground.  Either way, they are the better team easily.  Don’t overthink it and go out and execute as they have every game prior to this.



#11 Summers County at #6 Williamstown


Summers County came into 2018 riding high off of a semifinal appearance a year ago.  It has taken some time but Timmy Persiani has found his rhythm his first year at quarterback.  The Bobcats have built a head of steam all the way to an important and impressive win over Fayetteville last week.  Williamstown has only lost to Wheeling Central and Doddridge County.  They have a stellar run game and efficient pass offense with a mostly steady defense.  They are better than sixth in the state.

Summers County’s Gameplan: The Bobcats have been here before.  Going on the road to take out #6.  This is no 2017 Webster County though.  They will need to stop the duo of Carter Haynes and Donathan Taylor.  They have the speed to limit big plays but the box play is what really matter.  Offensively, Christian Pack and Keandre Sarver need to step up with big explosive plays to keep the offense moving and build momentum.

Williamstown’s Gameplan: They have played much tougher defenses this year.  Haynes and Taylor will have the upperhand with their lineplay and should be able to move the ball early.  The key here is to get up big early and never let the foot off the break.  If you let the Bobcats stick around, they might just sneak one in.  However, the Yellowjackets are a deeper bunch and should win this by several scores.



#10 Parkersburg Catholic at #7 Sherman


Parkersburg Catholic is the best example of a flip in wins.  From winless to nine wins is quite an achievement.  The credit goes to some improved line play and the combined 3000 rushing yards by Jeb Boice and Ty Sturm.  Sherman also has their ground weapons with QB JT Hensley and RB Tommy Harper.  The Tide line has dominated every match except for their opener against Magnolia which feels like a long time ago at this point.

Parkersburg Catholic’s Gameplan: Running inside the box will be tough with the Tide’s stout frontline.  Playing the edges and even hitting some rare passes could avoid a collapse like against Williamstown.  Defensively, they will need to contain Hensley at all costs.  Make another player beat you.  That is much easier said than done.

Sherman’s Gameplan: Man for man- the Tide are bigger and faster mostly.  They could go about this anyway they want but judging off who each have played- do what they usually do.  Get JT Hensley in space and let him show how he got so many touchdowns.  Sherman struggles with depth so jumping out early will avoid that all together.



#9 Magnolia at #8 Pendleton County

We’re glad to see both these programs back in the postseason.  We could argue they would win most of the matchups against other higher seeds so it’s a shame one must go first round.  Magnolia has two hellacious wins over Sherman and Wheeling Central.  Behind some stars outwide, all-staters on the line, and Patrick Mirandy making players everywhere.  Pendleton County is built very similar with their line, Kole Puffenberger at QB, and Timothy Thorne out wide.

Magnolia’s Gameplan: Pendleton County has seemed to struggled against teams running right at them.  Even Tucker County hung around (bad weather that game mind you) with them.  They might want to spread it out with Mirandy and Co., but they might have to need a game full of adapting.  Defensively, shutdown and Thorne (Puffenberger’s main guy) and force him to run.

Pendleton County’s Gameplan: Magnolia struggled a lot with Williamstown.  A quarterback using his legs seems to be a weakness for them.  They are pretty even on both sides.  If Puffenberger builds a throwing rhythm early and avoids needless turnovers or mistakes as did Wheeling Central a week prior, they could have the Blue Eagles where they need to be.