#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
The 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.