University (3-0) at Wheeling Park (3-0)
University is on the road for the third time in four weeks and this will be the most difficult test yet as it visits Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Hawks overcame four turnovers in winning at Brooke 44-21 last week. UHS rushed for a season high 307 yards in that game. The UHS defensive effort was strong again, led by leading tackler Jeremy Eckels and senior defensive lineman Clint Arbaugh.
“Clint has done his job as well as anyone on our defense so far this season,” said University head coach John Kelley. “Clint showed patience against that Brooke offense and that will be key again this week. Jeremy cleaned up a lot inside because the Brooke offense got us spread out and they were able to use the cutback to great effect. That scares me because Wheeling Park will try and do that and they have great speed.”
Wheeling Park got a bye following two wins over Class-AA powers Keyser and Bridgeport. The Patriots have played the first two games without leading rusher Bryce Ingram, who went over 1,000 yards last year.
Sophomore Savion Johnson has stepped in as he rushed for 127 yards in the season opening win against Keyser. During week two, Johnson and Geremy Paige combined for over 200 yards rushing against Bridgeport. Savion Johnson is the son of former Wheeling Park and Oklahoma State running back Darryl “Boogie” Johnson. The elder Johnson is currently a member of the Patriots coaching staff.
“He is an exceptionally good runner,” Kelley said of Johnson. “He stays low to the ground and he is tough. He’s a big kid at 205 pounds and he has some breakaway speed.”
Kelley is also impressed with the Wheeling Park defense.
“Two players just jump off the page,” Kelley said. “Two linebackers. (Geremy) Paige and (Theo) Blackston. We couldn’t block Paige last year. They just end up coming right down hill at you. That defense has their usual aggressiveness and size. They blitz a lot. Paige and Blackston just fly to the football.
“But, I don’t know if they’ve been tested in the secondary yet,” Kelley said. “Bridgeport and Keyser are not throwing teams. We’re probably the best team they’ve seen so far. We’ll try and get the ball to the people who have speed and can make plays.”
This will be the fourth meeting since 2008 between these two teams. The Hawks won a 2008 playoff game 21-13 at the Island. Wheeling Park then blew out UHS at home 42-12. The teams met for the first time at University’s new stadium last year as the Hawks won 27-7. Tyler Piktel ran for two scores and Travis Renner through a touchdown pass to Jack Armstrong in last year’s game.
Bridgeport (2-1) at Robert C. Byrd (2-1)
The Eagles will play their home opener against rival Bridgeport. RCB broke out the Stick-I formation while running right at Lincoln early on in a 28-14 win over Lincoln last week. The Eagles rushed for 165 yards in the game.
Julian Marino also threw a pair of touchdown passes – one covered 26 yards to Christian Mazza in the first half. Then, Alex Banko sealed the game with a 38-yard grab for a score in the fourth quarter. RCB’s Ty Seibel set up that last score with a key interception that thwarted a potential game tying drive by Lincoln.
Bridgeport bounced back from a loss to Wheeling Park by shutting out North Marion 28-0 last week. A.C. Caldera and Anthony Bonamico each had two touchdowns. Caldera led his team with 154 rushing yards. He also added a pair of interceptions on defense.
It’s been a series dominated by Bridgeport, but RCB did manage a win over the Indians back in 2010.
McKinley, D.C. (0-3) at Morgantown (3-0)
Morgantown’s first team defense has yet to allow a point in three blowout wins. MHS has given up 14 points total, both touchdowns were allowed late in games. The MHS offense has rolled up 172 points.
McKinley was supposed to be much improved this year, but it hasn’t played out as expected just yet. Freshman running back Denzel Brown is expected to be one of the top players in the D.C. area this year. 6-foot-3, 260 pound lineman Olisa Aikiwe is a college prospect as well.
East Fairmont (1-1) at Lincoln (2-1)
Lincoln fell short in its effort to beat Robert C. Byrd for the first time last week. This week, the Cougars will attempt to earn their first win over East Fairmont. Jerrod Kellar threw for 271 yards and a touchdown during last week’s game. He’ll try and keep the Lincoln pass game going this week as the Cougars play their second consecutive home game.
East Fairmont is on the road for the third consecutive game after splitting with Liberty and Nicholas County.
Philip Barbour (2-1) at Liberty (0-2)
Philip Barbour faces life without quarterback Dillon Newman after Newman injured his knee during a win over Braxton County last week. The Colts should still have a very strong ground game led by Al Johnson who rushed for 132 yards last week.
Liberty is coming off a bye week following close season opening losses to East Fairmont and RCB.
Valley (2-1) at Notre Dame (2-0)
Valley earned a forfeit win last week as Hundred did not have enough healthy players to field a team. The Lumberjacks will play on the road for the first time this season.
Notre Dame used big plays in the passing game to get past Cameron last week to improve to 2-0. Quarterback T. J. McKinsey threw scoring strikes to Wakem Simon and Jerrod West. Notre Dame played a turnover free game last week, but had to overcome 14 penalties to win.
Buckhannon-Upshur (1-2) at North Marion (0-3)
Buckhannon beat rival Elkins last week for its first win of the season. The Buccaneers were in control for the entire game as they marched 79 yards for a score during the opening drive of the game. Seth Cutright would go on to score four touchdowns on the night. Cutright finished with 155 yards rushing. Buckhannon is on the road for the third consecutive week.
North Marion has played two of the top Class-AA teams over the course of the last two weeks losing to Fairmont Senior and Bridgeport.
Grafton (0-3) at Weir (0-3)
Grafton’s freshman quarterback Cole Collins continues to mature as he made his first start of the season in a loss last week to Summers County. Grafton had leads in that game late. The Bearcats were up 10-7 early in the fourth quarter. And then led again with 3:00 to play. But a great kickoff return set up the Bobcats winning touchdown. Grafton out gained Summers County 351-197 and will try and continue that offensive momentum this week.
Elkins (0-3) at Preston (0-3)
Many of the issues Elkins has faced so far this season have been on defense. The Tigers have allowed an average of 40 points per game so far. Dylan Lucas and the Tigers offensive line were a bright spot during last week’s loss to Buckhannon.
Preston was out of it by halftime against Fairmont Senior last week as the Knights had allowed 491 yards prior to the break. Preston’s highlights came on special teams as Levi Nolan brought a kickoff back 88 yards for a score. The Knights also blocked a punt in that one.