Temperatures are dropping and the postseason is drawing near. Several teams in the Kanawha Valley are still looking for a way into the playoffs, others this week are paired up in a match of the haves and have nots.
#4 CAPITAL AT NITRO
Capital is the highest ranked team in the valley, and travels to Nitro. The Cougars seem to have gelled and settled into a role of a top team. Coach John Carpenter said it has taken a while for the team to reach that position.
In past years, Carpenter laments youthful mistakes were allowed to become fatal errors. This year, one bad mistake is being erased by three big plays. Capital has playmakers all over the field, starting with quarterback Tyree Pratt and running back Kashaun Haley.
The tandem has become a lightening force for the Cougars. However, the anchor which has emerged is Capital’s defense, lead by senior James Walton who seems to be in on every play. Nitro conversely enters the game with a 1-6 record and continues to look for stability amid youth.
#5 GEORGE WASHINGTON AT PARKERSBURG
The Patriots fell to #5 in this week’s SSAC poll, following a loss to #10 Cabell Midland. However, out of that loss, Coach Steve Edwards Junior hopes his team will draw confidence and strength. Midland led GW 42-14 in the second half, but had to hang on to win at the end 49-40 after a furious second half run by GW.
The Patriots were also without running back Draven Riffe, who suffered an ankle injury. Riffe is the state’s 3rd leading rusher with 1,379 yards. His status for this week is questionable at Stadium Field. Should he be unable to go for a second week, the Patriots feel confident in Justin Jackson, who filled in admirably on the road last week. Quarterback Jonathan Alexander also found success through the air in the failed comeback.
#11 SOUTH CHARLESTON AT RIVERSIDE
Coach Donnie Mays has been preaching to his troops all season to play up to their level and not to the level of the competition. Games like this Friday night are why the coach harps about expectations.
Riverside has a record of 1-7 and is a program re-emerging under first year head coach Steve Freeman. Although it has not been the season Warrior fans were wanting, South Charleston can ill afford to take Riverside lightly. The Black Eagles are 6-2 and cannot afford a let down in the home stretch.
WINFIELD AT HURRICANE
This is arguably the most intriguing and significant matchup of the week in the Kanawha Valley. In recent years, this game has been the season opener for both teams — and the winner has gone on to a successful season while the loser struggled.
Both teams come into the contest with fairly even records. Winfield is 3-4, while Hurricane is 4-3. The Redskins are in the midst of one of the most difficult schedules in the state. They’ve run the gauntlet which has included #1 Huntington, #5 George Washington, #10 Cabell Midland, and after this week, they still face #4 Capital and #12 Spring Valley.
The problem for Hurricane is they have yet to beat one of those ranked opponents. A loss to Winfield would make the playoffs a very difficult prospect for the Redskins.
Winfield would love nothing more than to be the catalyst for their cross county rivals to spend November folding uniforms. Hurricane quarterback Austin Hensley continues to shine despite the difficult slate and leads Class AAA in completion percentage.
Running back Zach Pate offers the balanced attack head coach Jeremy Taylor is looking for, and is a triple threat as a runner, recover, and special teams returner. Pate is 4th in the state in scoring, and second in Class AAA with 21 touchdowns.
#7 AA SISSONVILLE AT SHERMAN
Sissonville continues it’s quest to win out and finish the season 9-1. The next obstacle will be the Sherman Tide on the road. Sherman, out of Class A, is 2-6 and struggling through a difficult stretch. The Tide features a tough and physical line which concerns Indians’ head coach Eddie Smoulder.
However, Sissonville is among the most unpredictable offenses in football. They’ll sub three and four players on every play, rarely huddle, and run the quick offense which ignites before a defense can hope to call a formation. Deception is also a hallmark of the Indians’ attack with the ability to show multiple formations and run the unconventional.
Other games in the Kanawha Valley this week:
St. Albans at #1 Huntington
Ripley at Lincoln County
#1 (AA) Wayne at Poca
#15 (AA) Roane County at Herbert Hoover
Buffalo at Fayetteville