FEATURED PHOTO CREDITS: BRAD DAVIS (THE REGISTER HERALD)
#9 Parkersburg at #1 Martinsburg
Martinsburg moved onto to its 40th consecutive win, however, not without some struggle. Dewayne Grantham celebrated his first game back with a long touchdown run early in the first. After stopping the Big Reds, they seemed in position to bulldoze but a fumble set Parkersurg up for a Shane Miller TD and 7-7 score. Both defenses stiffened into the second until Grant Harman found Jarod Bowie for a 14-7 lead. After another stop, Naieem Kearney stepped up to score on 70+ yard screen. Both the Big Reds and Bulldogs failed to convert deep drives into points to end the half 21-7. Martinsburg opened up with a scoring drive in the second only for Parkersburg to do the same. After they pulled with 28-14, Martinsburg rolled behind their offense to a 42-20 win. They will host a rematch with Musselman next week.
#7 Huntington at #2 Spring Valley
Spring Valley’s performance this week was nothing short of a statement to the state. They not only proved they are improving but so is their passing game. With both of the Highlanders’ starting corners out, Will Adkins took advantage. They started hot with a long drive capped by a Graeson Malashevich touchdown run. Back with the ball in the early second, the Timberwolves made another long drive that ended with an Adkins-Malashevich pass touchdown. With the Highlanders struggling to do anything, only 54 yards with -7 rushing yards, and allowed Adkins to hit Malashevich one more time before the half to make it 21-0. In the second, Owen Chafin took over on the ground despite some called back touchdowns. Malashevich capped the drive with a pop pass score. Adkins then made it 34-0 in the third. A late safety made the final 36-0. They now will host a highly touted rematch between Capital next week.
#11 Hedgesville at #3 Capital
Playing host to Hedgesville, it was Capital’s defense and linemen that got them started early. After trading stops, it was Logan Spurlock who picked off Hunter Coe to go up 6-0. After another stop, Kerry Martin Jr. led his squad down the field and capped the drive with a one yard run two-point conversion to his brother, Kerion. Another stop led to another Cougar drive to the one, a fumble turned over. Kalai Clark stepped up and tackled Coe for a safety. Right before and right after the halftime break, Capital scored on the ground from Quisean Gray and Clark to make it 29-0. Despite a Keenan Smoot run to bring it within 22, Martin drove them back down the field before Clark rushed in another score. Martin would add two more passing TDs in the fourth as they cruised late for a 48-14 victory. They travel to Spring Valley to avenge their only loss and try to make a visit to Wheeling.
#5 Ripley at #4 Musselman
The Vikings made their long trek to Spring Mills’ stadium in the quarterfinals. Ripley started competitive holding Musselman scoreless in the first- also as did they. The second quarter was a different story as the Applemen punched a score only for the next Ripley possession to end up in a fumble. Blake Hartman went in again to go up 14-0. Another Hartman score, Viking three and out, and a field goal ended the half 24-0. Musselman started hot to start the third with a long Tre Beard III pass to Ethan Wilson. Beard would throw another TD moments later. Ripley continued to turn the ball over until a long Cyrus Casto pass in the fourth quarter for their only score. Musselman would carry out the 52-7 dominating performance and return to Martinsburg to pull off an unlikely upset.
#8 Point Pleasant at #1 Fairmont Senior
In what was thought to be the AA game of the year thus far turned into a shell shocking performance. Despite impressive opening drives by both offenses, Fairmont Senior continued forward with perfect play with Point Pleasant had little successful after their first score. The Fairmont Senior run game was prolific as the Polar Bear offensive line grinded out. Connor Neal finished with 296 yards passing but made his biggest plays tucking and running for scores. They took a commanding 38-6 lead into the half. Point Pleasant opened up badly in the third with a fumble scoop and score by Fairmont’s Nathan Clifton. They never looked back and kept grinding to a jaw dropping 66-6 win. Fairmont Senior will host Weir for the second time this season next week.
#7 Keyser at #2 Bluefield
The Golden Tornadoes travelled to Bluefield last week for their matchup with the #2 Beavers. Keyser relied heavily on their run strategy and game planning by trying to chew up clock and limit Bluefield’s possessions, but in the end, the athleticism and depth of the Beavers led to Keyser’s demise in Mitchell stadium. Bluefield looked to their potent running game in the contest as JJ Davis accumulated 154 yards on 13 carries and Juice Edwards added 114 yards of his own. The Beavers, behind a phenomenal defensive performance, and slowly surmounting a larger lead quarter by quarter finished with a 35-0 victory and advance to the state semifinals, where they will meet the Bridgeport Indians for the second year in a row.
#6 Robert C. Byrd at #3 Bridgeport
In a rematch of a week five matchup that had fans from both sides on the edge of their seats; the result was slightly less exciting in the Bridgeport vs. Robert C. Byrd quarterfinal matchup. This time around the Tribe asserted its dominance. Bridgeport led RCB 28-0 at the half with two of their touchdowns coming from star running back Jake Bowen and several RCB turnovers. However, it may have been the defensive effort of the Indians that was most impressive. Against a team Bridgeport surrendered nearly 400 yards to earlier in the season, they held them to only one score in the playoff contest. Bowen finished the game with 238 rushing yards while Trey Pancake racked up three sacks and a touchdown of his own. Bridgeport finished impressively 42-7 and will now travel to Bluefield for a semi-final game that looks frighteningly familiar.
#12 Weir at #4 Nicholas County
Both teams came into this game riding massive offensive productions from a duo or trio of athletes. Nothing was different in this contest, Sagraves and O’Dell both performed well and tried to help their team win. However, the Red Riders performed just a little better. Weir running back Donovan Kirby exploded for 230 yards and four touchdowns in the game. It was a duel all game long as they exchanged touchdowns. It was not until late third and early fourth until Kirby really began stretching the Weir lead. Sebastian Spencer and Tyler Komorowski once again rotated between the quarterback and slot positions. Spencer picked up two touchdowns on the ground and caught one touchdown pass from Komorowski. Weir won the shootout 63-43 and advances to the semi-finals and will travel to Fairmont next week to meet with a seemingly unstoppable Polar Bear squad.
#9 Magnolia at #1 Wheeling Central
Sweet, sweet revenge for the defending champs. Though this quick rematch started with a long Patrick Mirandy touchdown on the opening play. However, the defense adjusted and limited Magnolia for the rest of the half. Curtis McGhee III continued with his efficient play having three successful drives in the first half with two passing scores and one rushing for a 20-7 halftime lead. Though the third started with a Maroon Knight deep drive and stall out, the defense forced another of their six turnovers as Luke Duplaga landed on a fumble for a touchdown and 27-7 lead. Though Magnolia would score two more times, Duplaga had another touchdown recovery as the defense forced Mirandy to go 8 for 38. Wheeling Central would cruise in the fourth for a 40-19 win and hosting of Doddridge next week in the semifinals.
#7 Sherman at #2 Midland Trail
This matchup at Greenbrier East’s stadium was one of the best of the week. With two hungry programs, Midland Trail was ready to answer the call with QB Austin Isaacs out. They started hot with a reverse kickoff return handoff to Morgan Ferris for a score and two-pointer. JT Hensley and the tied answered on a drive capped by an incredible run that tied it 8-8. The Tide stiffened on defense and allowed Hensley to march them back down the field in the second to take a 14-8 lead. They had one more shot in the Patriot redzone but blew it on downs thanks to a fumble and penalties. In the third, Sherman had another deep chance but Hensley threw a 90-yard pick six to Trevor Maichle. Tied 14-14, Hensley fumbled at midfield on the next drive setting up a Chris Vines run which broke the spirit of the Tide late. Midland Trail would get the gutsy win 20-14 and move to the semifinal against Williamstown.
#6 Williamstown at #3 Mount View
Mount View took part in another playoff classic just this time on the other end. They started hot with a big pass from Jesse Rose to Marqus Ray for a long score. Their defense, who forced several turnovers, held strong on a Yellowjacket drive in the second and forced a Boston Caruthers field goal. Down 6-3, Donathan Taylor raced in for a score right before the half to take a 10-6 advantage. Into the third, Terry Headen took back the lead with a drive capping run to go ahead 12-10. Williamstown would answer with yet another field goal. Though the Knights had a great kick return, Taylor would end the drive with an interception. Williamstown had big runs to take a 20-12 lead into the fourth. A series of turnovers accorded as both QBs lost fumbles with the Yellowjackets ending up with the ball. They would capitalize with yet another field goal and hold onto the 23-12 advantage for the win. They move onto play Midland Trail next week in the semifinal.
#5 Cameron at #4 Doddridge County
A pair of undefeated Single A’s brawled it out for the right to challenge Wheeling Central. The early difference was on fourth down. On a deep opening Bulldog drive, it was Tanner Lett who made the big play to score on 4th and long. Cameron drove and did the same except could not convert the fourth down. Though Doddridge fumbled in the Cameron’s redzone, the Dragons made another deep drive that stalled out. Down 7-0 starting the second half, the Dragons began poorly with a sack fumble that resulted in a quick Doddridge score going up 13-0. The third was full of turnovers, drive stalls, and long punts before Griffin Devericks made a 17-yard pick six to go up 20-0 going into the third. The fourth was all about Hunter America who grinded the clock out and added a score to his 200+ yard performance as Doddridge won 27-0 and will now travel to Wheeling Central.