By Eric Little, Seven Ranges Radio
It’s rare when nearly an entire slate of games lives up to its maximum potential billing, but that’s what happened in the Mid-Ohio Valley last weekend. Fantastic finishes, milestones, upsets and big plays were all in abundance.
This week, one of the favorites in Class AAA makes a visit to the area, and the Little Kanawha Conference gives us another early season slugfest. Here are this week’s games (All games scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday unless otherwise specified).
Class AAA No. 2 Morgantown (2-0) at Parkersburg South (1-1)
Parkersburg South was held to just 98 total yards last week in a 33-14 loss to a Linsly team that’s quickly becoming known as a very strong rushing team. The Cadets had 100-yard rushing efforts from two different players in the win, but their defense was just as much of a story.
After Patriot running back Brendan Schwendeman ran for more than 400 yards in Parkersburg South’s opener, he was limited to just 25 yards on 11 carries last week. That Linsly forced the Patriots to go away from the run after feeding Schwendeman the ball just 11 times is truly the significant takeaway from this game.
In addition to the struggles South had running the ball last week, they also struggled to stop the run. Linsly managed to pick up nearly 400 total yards, with 286 of those coming on the ground. All told, the Cadets ran the ball 45 times on the Patriots.
And things don’t get easier for Parkersburg South’s run defense this week. Morgantown is led by Chazzy Thomas, one of the best running backs in the state. The Mohigans rolled 66-8 over Calvin Coolidge High (DC) last week, and have been a top-five team in the state all season.
While stopping Thomas will be a major task for the run defense, South really needs to find a way to run the football against this Morgantown team that turned Calvin Coolidge into Silent Cal.
Parkersburg Catholic (2-0) at Class A No. 5 St. Marys (2-0)
If it’s beginning to feel like we’re seeing week-after-week of LKC knockout games in the Mid-Ohio Valley, well, it’s reasonable to see where you could draw that conclusion. St. Marys has opened its season with wins over Ritchie County and Wirt County, and now faces Parkersburg Catholic (Not to mention the fact that both teams still have games against Williamstown later in the year, but that’s a story for a different day).
St. Marys comes into this one after earning a hard-fought 7-6 win against Wirt County last week. The Blue Devils intercepted Wirt County SIX times last week, but only managed seven points after multiple drives stalled in the red zone. Michael Stout’s 60-yard touchdown strike to Colby Brode gave the Blue Devils their only score of the night, and Garrett Furr’s extra point proved to be the difference in the contest.
This week, the Blue Devils will hope for the return of senior running back David Gray, who didn’t dress for last Friday’s game because of an injury. Parkersburg Catholic made a long road trip last weekend and picked up the 28-0 win at Pocahontas County. Defense has been the early-season story for Parkersburg Catholic as the 12 points they allowed to Buffalo in their opener are the only points the Crusaders have surrendered this season.
Even if Gray returns for St. Marys, the Blue Devils will need to find ways to reach the end zone without him. This game will be a true test of the Blue Devils’ depth, but it’ll also be the home opener for St. Marys after spending the first two weeks of the season on the road. This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) and online at www.literock93r.com.
Parkersburg (1-0) at Class AAA No. 3 Cabell Midland (2-0)
The Big Reds return to action this week after a bye week following their shootout win over Warren Local, Ohio in their opener. In a somewhat bizarre game that featured a lightning delay in the third quarter, Parkersburg turned Warren’s miscues into quick points that allowed them to turn a slim lead into a runaway advantage.
The Big Reds scored three touchdowns in a span of 71 seconds thanks to an onside kick recovery and a pick-six. Dan Fox caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Aaron Roberts in the win and returned the interception for another score. Roberts threw for two scores and ran for another while Chandler Hamilton aided the ground effort by running for a pair of touchdowns. The Big Reds were bitten by the turnover bug at times, with two late first half miscues leading to Warren scores.
Parkersburg faces a stiff challenge this week in defending Class AAA runner-up Cabell Midland. Midland rolled to a 63-19 win against Winfield last week. Perhaps the best thing PHS has going for it this week is that they did have the bye week to give them some extra time to prepare for a very good Cabell Midland team.
The Knights ran for a staggering 589 yards in their win over the Generals. However, no amount of extra time to prepare will make up for a gap in the quantity and quality of talent that exists between these rosters. Unless Cabell Midland gets bitten by the turnover bug themselves, the Knights stand a solid chance to win their third in as many weeks.
Williamstown (2-0) at Marietta (1-1) (7:00 Friday)
There may not be another team all year in West Virginia – or really, anywhere else – that will have a shorter trip to a road game than the trip Williamstown will have on Friday night. Williamstown High School is less than a mile and a half from Marietta’s Don Drumm Stadium. If Williamstown head coach Terry Smith really wanted, he could lead his players on foot through town in some sort of pregame parade to get to this game.
The Yellowjackets are an impressive 2-0 to start the year after grinding out a 15-14 win against Magnolia in the final moments last week. Down 14-10, Williamstown got two points when Magnolia elected to take a safety in the final minutes rather than punt deep from their end zone.
The Yellowjackets then took the ensuing free kick and capped a scoring drive in the final minute with the game-winning 26-yard field goal from Kade Kiselica. The win was Smith’s 100thas head coach of the Yellowjackets.
Marietta comes in after a 20-13 loss to Warren Local of Ohio. Despite 282 total yards of offense, the Tigers picked up only six first downs in the seven-point loss. Williamstown limited a pretty good Magnolia team to fewer than 300 yards in their win last week, but the Blue Eagles managed to gain 210 of those on 40 carries.
Marietta’s best chance comes in establishing a ground game against the Yellowjackets. Williamstown will be stepping up in class to play this contest, so it represents an interesting challenge for the Yellowjackets.
Ritchie County (1-1) at Clay County (1-1)
Though the work is far from finished for the Ritchie County Rebels, perhaps no one earned more of a “get right” victory than Ritchie County last weekend. Quarterback Alex Lipscomb threw for three touchdowns and ran for another on a night where he accounted for 335 total yards of offense in Ritchie County’s 44-24 win over Roane County. Jayden Allender caught three passes for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter alone last week in the Rebel win.
Clay County bounced back last week with a 17-point win against Braxton County. Ritchie County found success last week with a short passing attack that created open space on the edges for playmakers like Allender, Dylan Frye and Austin Frashure. After the Rebels didn’t have a ton of success on the ground in their opening week loss to St. Marys, Ritchie County controlled the tempo last week by using the run to set up the pass and therefore, dictating the flow of their possessions.
This is a byproduct of the youth of Ritchie County’s offensive line and the amount of skill players the Rebels have at the receiver spots. If the Rebels can build on this effort, they should be able to come away from their first road game of the season with a win.
Wirt County (0-2) at Gilmer County (2-0)
The Wirt County Tigers have to feel at least a little relieved after throwing six interceptions and only losing by one last week against St. Marys. The Tigers’ defense stepped up on multiple occasions to stifle St. Marys drives in the red zone in the 7-6 loss. But without question, scoring points has been the biggest early-season problem for what is usually a high-octane Wirt County offense.
In their two losses, the Tigers have a combined 14 points. Last week’s touchdown came on a three-yard strike from Damian Rhodes to Justin Joy. Gilmer County won’t be an easy team to face this week either as the Titans have renewed energy after back-to-back wins against Calhoun County and South Harrison.
The Tigers came into the season as a playoff favorite and a few people picked them as a contender to make it to the Super Six. However, all of this will be increasingly unlikely if Wirt County falls to 0-3 to open the season, especially with games left against Parkersburg Catholic, Williamstown and Roane County. Expect head coach Jason Hickman to come back from the drawing board with a few new ways to try and squeeze some points out of the orange and black offense.
Wahama (1-1) at Eastern (1-1)
A cursory glance at Wahama’s regular season schedule indicated that if there was a team with a chance to end the White Falcons’ regular season winning streak, it was the Tomcats of Trimble High School. That’s exactly what happened, as Trimble built up a 12-0 halftime lead and held on for a 12-7 win in Wahama’s Tri-Valley Conference opener, snapping the White Falcons’ 32-game regular season winning streak.
After Hunter Bradley’s one-yard touchdown run put Wahama on the board in the third quarter, the White Falcons had three other scoring opportunities in the second half that died inside the Trimble 30-yard line.
The rest of the TVC slate doesn’t pose quite the challenge for Wahama. This week, the White Falcons are very likely to get back to their winning ways against Eastern and prove why Friday night’s game was a mere bump in the road.
Magnolia (0-2) at Tyler Consolidated (0-2) (7:00 Friday)
Here’s an annual regular season battle that rarely features two winless teams. Doddridge County turned two third quarter Tyler Consolidated turnovers into two touchdowns in a 26-12 win over the Silver Knights. But the real story here is how close Magnolia is to having the digits in their record inverted. There is perhaps no better winless team at any level in the entire state than Magnolia, with two losses by a combined eight points.
The latest was a real heartbreaker, as Magnolia took a late safety in a field position gambit against Williamstown. A long return on the ensuing free kick and a penalty at the end of that play, however, aided the Yellowjackets in a drive that netted the game-winning field goal. Tyler Consolidated has struggled in recent years and often plays a rugged early-season schedule. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see them winless at this juncture of the season.
However, they’ve been much more competitive under new head coach Ryan Walton than they’ve been in the past. Though this likely won’t be the week where the Silver Knights change their stars, expect them to compete early and pick up some wins later in the year. This game can be heard locally on WXCR Radio (92.3 FM) and online at www.wxcr.com.
Roane County (1-1) at Ravenswood (1-0)
Mick Price’s Ravenswood Red Devils had to wait an extra week to start their 2013 season, but the wait was worth it in a 61-36 win over Webster County. The win was especially sweet for Ravenswood after the Red Devils dropped their final eight games to end last season, with three losses of three points or less coming in the final five games. Ravenswood scored early and often and never looked back, leading 21-0 after the first quarter.
Three of Ben Johnson’s nine carries for Ravenswood resulted in touchdowns. Devin Crews threw for a score for the Red Devils and ran for two more. Roane County is coming off a 44-24 loss to Ritchie County on a night where the biggest loss for the Raiders came late in the second quarter. After making a touchdown catch, Luke Scott was crushed by a Ritchie County defender on his way to the ground. Scott never returned for the Raiders and his loss was palpable.
For starters, the Raiders never got the ground game going in the second half with any consistency. But Scott was also beginning to make headway in the passing attack, both on screen plays and by breaking free out of the backfield. The Raiders will need a healthy Scott this week if they are to get past Ravenswood.
Calhoun County (0-2) at Doddridge County (2-0)
Beallsville (1-1) at Paden City (0-2)
Ripley (0-2) at Winfield (1-1)