By Dave Morrison
Wheeling Intelligencer

WHEELING, W.Va.  – The stakes don’t get much higher than Wheeling Park at Morgantown Friday at Pony Lewis Field.

For a myriad of reasons.

Park (5-0), despite being No. 3 in the latest SSAC playoff ratings, feels it still hasn’t received the respect it has earned and might need a signature win to justify its perfect start at the midway point.

Morgantown (5-1) is No. 12, the one loss coming to perennial power and thee-time defending state champion Martinsburg (28-21). However, Martinsburg is juggling an ongoing eligibility issue which could cause it to forfeit five games (currently), including the Morgantown win. That would clear the one loss and give Morgantown 13 big points in the ratings.

The Mohigans pose a threat to the Park defense because of Chazzy Thomas, the outstanding running back who would have to be the clear-cut leader in the race for the Kennedy Award, with over 1,593 yards rushing at 25 touchdowns.

Last week, in a 52-21 win over Dubois, Pa., Thomas had 380 yards and six touchdowns.

Park won’t counter with a Chazzy-type runner, though the backfield tandem of Bryce Ingram and Savion Johnson (452 yards), and fullbacks Geremy Paige and Theo Blackston, put up similar numbers combined.

The Park offense has started quickly in its last two games.

Ingram scored on the first play from scrimmage in a 34-16 win over Brooke and in a 52-0 win over East Liverpool, Eric Banks, one of the state’s top receivers, caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Phillips on the game’s first play.

Phillips is 35 for 65 passing for 593 yards and seven touchdowns. Banks has caught 19 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns.


Bishop Donahue (3-2) at No. 2 Madonna (5-0)

This one always seems to come down to the wire – at least over the last two years.

Madonna, en route to a berth in the Class A state championship game, and loss to Wahama, beat Donahue 15-14 with an 80-yard touchdown run late.

The Blue Dons are loaded, led by the offensive prowess of quarterback Ross Comis (30 of 43 passing for 661 yards and eight touchdowns and 610 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns) and Elliot Nero (680 yards rushing and six touchdowns).

No need to convince Donahue coach John Durdines.

“They are easily he best team we’ve seen this year,” Durdines, whose team has lost to playoff-caliber teams Notre Dame and Clay-Battelle) said. “You really can’t concentrate on stopping one or the other (Comis or Nero). either has the ability to make the big play. We just have to stop their successes when we can and understand that they are going to have success.”

Durdines team is rebounding from early-season injuries, which hurt it in its two previous losses. Quarterback Jesse Padlow is back, and leads and leads the offense. He has completed 51 of 76 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.

“They always play us well,” Madonna coach Doug Taylor said. “They have great size, they have great speed. I know they’ve been banged up, but we expect to see a fully healthy team. We  know we are going to see their A game.”


Shadyside (6-0) at Wheeling Central (5-1)

Wheeling Central coach Mike Young continues to live right.

For the second time this season, the Knights stopped what would have been a game-changing two-point conversion with inside a minute left. The latest came in a 20-18 win over Kiski Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The other came in a 7-6 season-opening win over Harrison Central.

Add to that a blocked (and returned for a touchdown) game-winning field goal attempt by Magnolia in a 27-20 win and holding off powerful Linsly late in a 26-21 win, and you have four wins coming by a combined 15 points.

The Knights will need to continue the same against undefeated Shadyside, a team that features an offensive juggernaut led by running backs Austin Dorris and Eric Howell and Chris Littrell.

Shadyside puts up points aplenty, scoring over 40 points in its last four wins, and no fewer than 22 points.

The defense has given up double figures in all but one win.

Central counters with the one-two punch of quarterback Parker Henry and running back C.J. Burch. The Knights also have gone to a few sets where freshman QB Isaac Rine comes in and Henry and Burch lineup as wingbacks or in the backfield.


Valley Wetzel (2-3) at Bellaire St. John, Ohio (0-6)

It’s been a strange season so far for Tom West and his Lumberjacks.

Valley’s 45-22 loss to Clay-Battelle Monday was the team’s first game in 18 days. They had a game with Hundred cancelled because Hundred didn’t have enough players and also had a scheduled off week earlier.

The game was moved to Monday after the tragic death of Clay-Battelle junior Sydney Rush.

“I wanted to do whatever we could to help Clay-Battelle, whether it was moving the game or whatever they needed,” West said. “That team, that school, that community, they are going through a real rough time. It’s just a terrible tragedy.”

The Valley team joined the Cee-Bees on the field before the game for a moment of silence and released balloons.

West is hoping for a more traditional second half for his own team. He said he is going to run the football and run some more and first up is St. John’s, which is winless.

Trey Streets leads Valley with over 400 yards in four games and Peyton Palmer, Kale Lloyd, T.C. Long and Matt Throckmorton will all see action.

“We think we can run the football on (St. John),” West said. “We have some pretty good backs. We have some backs with speed and some power backs. We are going to use them all.”


John Marshall (3-2) at Parkersburg South (1-4)

The Monarchs three-game win streak came to a halt last week at Musselman, 34-7.

They’ll try to restart a streak at Parkersburg South this week.

The homestanding Patriots got off to a big start to the season, especially Andrew Schwendeman, who had 405 yards in the season-opeing win over Ripley (47-45.), He has just over 100 yards since. Quarterback Garrett Gilkerson had thrown for over 400 yards.

The Monarchs are led by running back Trevor Hardesty and sophomore quarterback Noah Martin, who was 13 for 25 for 120 yards and a touchdown.


Weirton (2-4) at Magnolia (3-3)

The playoffs started right after a 27-20 loss to Wheeling Central and the Blue Eagles bounced back nicely, with a win over Monroe Central

Drew Keller led the way with 148 yards and a touchdown. He also returned an interception for a score and recovered a fumble.

It’s the proverbial trap game for Magnolia, who is set to face Class A No. 1 St. Mary’s on the road next week.

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  • Michael

    Go Maroon Knights!!! This game is huge. Maroon Knights need this one. Good luck to Madonna, Weir, Park, and all the Ohio Valley teams.

  • Stiener

    With it being a rainy day, should be a good game. Fumbles will tell the story. Good luck Patriots!!!

  • Savage

    I hope Park pulls this one in. If they can beat Morgantown, it'll go a long way with points.

  • Ken

    The Hawks are at best a 8-2 team. I wish we were better, but lost at Park and going to get crushed by Morgantown. If I had to pick, Park 28-24.

  • WPHS

    Was at last years game. GREAT GAME!!! Expect another good one. Last year Chazzy intercepted a pass that could have give Park the chance to tie it. Thomas is a great player. Parks O-line is better, defense is much better. I like Park 42-30.

  • Tina

    I was at the Morgantown/Martinsburg game. Martinsburg isnt as good as past years. If they were, Morgantown would have gotten beat worse than they did. I've read a lot about Parks team, my niece is a cheerleader there and my sister goes to all the games. I think Parks better than people think and they beat Motown at home.

  • Mike

    Having been at all Parks home games, I watched the Park/University game. University averaged 35 points a game. Parks defense silenced the Hawks. Only allowing 6 points. On a 2 point conversion attempt, Parks defense stuffed it. So Matt, your crying about Universitys poor performance? Really? Park 28-17. No way Morgantown stops the 4 Horsemen.

  • Matt

    Watching Park beat University on a night the Hawks played poorly, and seeing Morgantown give Martinsburg a game on there home field Morgantown wins this game by 3 TDs. Talk to all in the morning.

    • Savage

      Bad news Matt. Morgantown needed O.T. To beat Park. Morgantowns gonna CRUSH University. Morgantown doesnt want a rematch with Park in the playoffs.

      • Savage

        Too bad Park got screwed by dirty officials!!!

    • WPHS

      Matt. You said University would beat Park by 28. Your now saying Morgantown will. Come on man. Your predictions are bad. You also said University would quietly make it to the Championship. Uh....not happening.

  • Scott

    I think this is the best game in the state tonight. I like Wheeling Park 35-21.

  • Steve

    Being a Martinsburg fan and having watched Martinsburg beat Morgantown, if Park can contain Thomas, Park should beat Morgantown. Park 42-21.

    • jojo

      you need a drug test

      • Rick

        Wow JoJo. Why do you feel that way about Steve? Im a Martinsburg grad and I agree with him. Not all of the Bulldogs fans act like you. Maybe you need the drug test. Remember...crack kills.

  • weir high

    Weir is 3 and 3 not 2 and 4

  • steve

    Madonna will beat Donahue by 3-4 touchdowns