FEATURED PHOTO CREDITS: SHOLTEN SINGER (HERALD DISPATCH)
#4 Musselman at #1 Martinsburg
Martinsburg did not necessarily thump Musselman like the first time they played. The Applemen came out valiantly with a deep return by Blake Hartman but were held off at the goal line. Naieem Kearney would then pick up the scoring in the first then added in the second by a Grant Harman-Michael Boaitey TD pass. Harman would also add in another rushing touchdowns right before the break for the 21-0 lead. The second half began with another Harman rushing score then Martinsburg takeaway resulting in a short field and another touchdown. Up 35-0 in the third, they would hold on to win 42-14. Dave Walker becomes the winningest coach in state history and the Bulldogs move onto their third straight title appearance.
#3 Capital at #2 Spring Valley
Once again, the presumed game of the year was flipped on its head. Spring Valley came out on fire. Will Adkins quickly jumped out throwing while Owen Chafin plucked away on the ground. Suddenly, they were up 28-7. The Spring Valley defense intercepted Kerry Martin Jr. four times. The backbreaker came in the third as Malashevich passed for a score while Capital answered, then he returned the ensuing kickoff to the one and ran it in. The Timberwolves most impressive performance to date as they won 56-14 and head to Wheeling for the third charm.
#12 Weir at #1 Fairmont Senior
Weir was the lowest seeded team remaining in the playoffs and had fought tirelessly to reach the semi-finals, where they met seemingly unstoppable Fairmont Senior. The Polar Bears and Red Riders had clashed once before in the regular season, where Fairmont Senior captured the 43-14 victory at home. Though Fairmont’s brilliant offensive attack did shine in the contest, it was the Polar Bear defense that did the majority of the damage. The Polar Bears forced six turnovers in the game including four fumbles and two interceptions. The Fairmont defense held Weir to 145 total yards in the game while Polar Bear QB and Kennedy Award candidate Conner Neal racked up 229 passing yards and four touchdowns himself. Camden Longwell was the leading receiver for Neal catching seven passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Fairmont Senior shut out Weir 59-0 and advanced to the “AA” state championship.
#3 Bridgeport at #2 Bluefield
These two teams clashed Friday at Mitchell Stadium in a rematch of the 2017 semi-finals, a game the Beavers won 37-14. That’s in the past though, this is a new year with two very different football teams. The Beaver’s ground game was anchored by fullback Arnold Martin who was able to muster 113 yards on the ground against a talented Bridgeport front six. Bluefield once again looked to their talented and experienced linemen to dominate the line of scrimmage and open up opportunities for their potent ground game. Bluefield’s defense played a big part in the contest holding Bridgeport’s star running-back Jake Bowen to less than 90 yards on the night. The Beavers held a 14-7 lead at halftime, but with two quick thirrd quarter scores from Chandler Cooper, Bluefield extended their lead to 28-7 entering the fourth quarter. They would exchange score but Bluefield held out. With the 35-14 victory, the Beavers advance to the state championship where they look to go back-to-back in a rematch with the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears.
#4 Doddridge County at #1 Wheeling Central
The matchup of what some considered the top two teams in the land went sort of as expected. The Bulldogs could not establish a ground game behind America and Curtis McGhee III helped the Maroon Knights get out to a big lead. Up 14-0 in the third quarter, Wheeling Central stopped a promising Bulldog drive on fourth down. McGhee responded with two more touchdowns to open up the flood gates. He finished with 399 passing, 91 rushing, and six touchdowns. 200+ of those yards and three touchdowns went to Anthony Robbins. They would cruise onto another state title appearance 47-7.
#6 Williamstown at #2 Midland Trail
What many anticipated as a promising matchup turned ugly fast going to the midway. Williamstown jumped out to a 14-0 lead before a blocked punt halfway through the second really opened things up to a 21-0 lead. Midland Trail would respond with a gutsy drive to bring it back to 21-8. However, the flood gates were broken as Donathan Taylor zoomed down the field for a quick score. Williamstown got the ball back fast and Carter Haynes hit his second touchdown. Midland Trail fumbled the next kickoff and Haynes got one more score in before the half going in up 42-6. The Patriots had no answer in the second as Williamstown heads to Wheeling Island for a rematch after their 56-8 win.