Third & Long – Week Eight

Cherish

In a blink, we enter mid-October. The smell of fall has descended upon us, and we are firmly beyond the midpoint of the season. Anything in life will have constant change. From the leaves, to life, to football; there is no avoiding it. For many around the state, they are entering their last moments on a football field. While they will have other sport seasons to wrap up their senior year, and of course, events like prom, snowballs, and other formals that will make it a memorable year. Nothing compares to the loss of football within your prep life.

I truly hope that to the few of you that will read, you will take a deep breath and enjoy these last few weeks.

Enjoy everything.

From the grind of a hard practice and the thrill of physical contact. The laughs that you will have in the lockerroom with your childhood friends, being underneath the lights with an entire town cheering you on, and having the feeling of a tough battle against a strong opponent.

Don’t leave early- don’t say you have something better to do. You have the rest of your life to go do something else. Enjoy these last few weeks. Forget about college football or the next level. Forget about the next job that you’ll have or the next phase of your life.

Soak every moment in. Stay twenty minutes longer with your friends. Talk longer with your family after a game. Take every picture you can. Give everything you got and don’t leave any regrets.

It’s almost over.  

Jockeying for Position

With four weeks remaining, one enters a period of knowing that you’re not only in the playoffs but also trying to find a way to get yourself in a position for a deep run. Finding key wins and quality points to put you up in the higher portions of the rankings is key for homefield advantage but also the best matchup. There are a few key AAA games this week that will determine quite a bit of positioning come November.

Hurricane vs Cabell Midland – Two top five teams in the state that each have a loss on their record. A win here for either team may put them at the #2 or #3 position- two home playoff games for sure. A loss may put them around 9 or 10, which is much more difficult.

Morgantown vs Parkersburg South – Two interesting teams. Parkersburg South started off hot and lost a close one with Bridgeport. South sits at #2, and a win here could possibly give them the points to jump Musselman. Morgantown seems to be heading to the postseason, but they are around #11 right now. A win (and to win out) can put them firmly within the Top 8, and give them at least one home playoff game.

Princeton vs Woodrow Wilson – Two more very interesting teams. Each have a win over AA power Bluefield but each is still looking for their second big victory of the year. Princeton took Lord Botetourt (VA) to the wire and played well for three quarters with Hurricane last week. They still have Bridgeport and Parkersburg South on the schedule. This has become a playoff game for Princeton almost- a must win. Woodrow Wilson, while much improved, still needs a big win on their record. They struggled with Parkersburg South and Huntington, but still sit at #14 with a 5-2 record. Princeton, Oak Hill, and George Washington are left on their schedule. They should make the postseason, but two wins in three may put them around #11/#12, a loss here could see them struggling to get in.

Kennedy Watch

The most prestigious award in West Virginia High School football. The honor may be as open as it has ever been. There is no one that has truly broken out into a lead, and it may require great playoff performances for someone to secure the award. Here are a few of the guys to look out for going into the last quarter of the season.

Martinsburg

QB (SR) – Ezra Bagent | 1569 pass yards 20 TDs 4 INT

Bagent is a well-known name around the state. Not only for his brother (who should have won the Kennedy Award himself), but what he has done throughout his career, especially during last year’s state title game. Bagent has been producing at a high level against the hardest schedule in West Virginia this year.

Huntington

QB (SR) – Gavin Lochow | 1086 pass yards 19 TDs 2 INT, 476 rush yards 6 TDs

Lochow took the state by storm last season, putting the Highlanders on his back for a State Championship appearance. He has had a “quietly” good year here as well. He is a consistent player that has slowly racked up the stats. Even with losing a few key skill players, he still has been able to put the Highlanders in good situations.

Hurricane

RB (SR) – Jeremiah Riffle | 1073 rush yards 10 TDs, 66 rec yards 1 TD

A big, physical back that stands around 6’0 215. He has given the Hurricane program a physical down hill presence to go along their passing game. Look for him to break out down the road as the weather gets colder as they attempt to make a run in the AAA playoffs.

Musselman

QB (SR) – Bayden Hartman | 1254 pass yards 9 TDs 1 INT, 556 rush yards 13 TDs

Another brother of a former star to make the watchlist this fall. Musselman has put themselves in a strong contention for a deep run and much of that is due to Hartman’s dual-threat abilities. He has some big matchups remaining in the regular season to strengthen his candidacy.

Wheeling Park

QB (SR) – Brett Phillips | 1518 pass yards 16 TDs 0 INT, 252 rush yards 5 TDs

Phillips has been one of the reasons why I like the Patriots come November. He has been lighting up the scoreboard and with the receiving corps that they have, they will give most teams major issues in the playoffs.

Parkersburg South

QB (JR) – Robert Shockey | 1435 pass yards 19 TDs 4 INT, 552 rush yards 5 TDs

You can’t look at the Parkersburg South Patriots without the play of Robert Shockey. On the ground or through the air, he has been carrying the team all fall, allowing them to be versatile and give opponent defenses hell. A good run in November could give him the nod.

Independence

RB (SR) – Judah Price | 1227 rush yards 22 TDs (25 2PCs), 108 rec yards 1 TD

The lone nominee from AA or A. Racking up the yards on the ground but also putting himself in contention for state scoring records. Atticus Goodson won the Kennedy last year for the Patriots, and that will (theoretically) make it difficult for Price to win it this year. But with the season he has had so far, you have to put him in the conversation.

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