By Michael Minnich
Mineral Daily News Tribune
Friday, November 15, 7:30 p.m.
No. 15 East Hardy (7-3) at No. 2 St. Marys (10-0)
The Cougars backed into the playoffs, losing three of their final four games after a 6-0 start.
Cole Collier has shown the way this year, rushing for 943 yards and 14 touchdowns and throwing for 1,404 yards and 14 more scores, while Jake Sager has racked up 657 yards and four scores.
Tyler Murphy and Tyler Smith have been Collier’s preferred targets: both have 631 yards, with Murphy catching 26 balls and six TD’s and Smith 33 for eight scores.
St. Marys had no such issues, pitching three straight shutouts to close out the campaign. The Blue Devils have allowed just 76 points on the year, 27 less than any other team in Class A this year.
David Gray is SM’s leading rusher with 783 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Jeremy Pratt has 556 yards and five TD’s and Noah Spitzer 543 yards and six scores.
Gray’s 104 points rank him eighth in Class A.
Michael Stout has passed for 839 yards and eight touchdowns.
East Hardy qualified last year as the No. 7 seed and beat Wheeling Park, 60-24, before losing to Magnolia, 19-14.
St. Marys took care of Wirt County, 40-14, in the first round last year before falling to eventual state runner-up Madonna, 29-14.
No. 11 Meadow Bridge (8-2) at No. 6 Moorefield (9-1)
Winners of eight straight since losing by just three points to Class AA 4-seed Frankfort, Moorefield will host a playoff game for the first time since 2004.
Sophomore Will Schoonover went over 1,000 yards for the season against Tygarts Valley in the Jackets’ finale, finishing the regular season with 1,070 stripes and 10 touchdowns.
Dakota Vetter will almost certainly cross into four digits in passing on Friday, too, entering the playoffs with 999 yards and five touchdowns.
Matt Dolan has 17 receptions for 494 yards and eight touchdowns for MHS.
On the other side of the field is the state’s leading rusher.
Jake Parker has amassed 2,368 yards on 252 carries, scoring 32 touchdowns for Class A’s third-best scoring offense.
Parker’s 208 points (he also has eight two-point conversions) also lead all classifications.
Moorefield were the No. 16 seed last year, losing to Tucker County, 27-14.
Meadow Bridge is in the No. 11 slot for the second straight year; they lost to Greenbrier West, 48-6, in 2012.
No. 13 Robert C. Byrd (7-3) at No. 4 Frankfort (8-2)
Frankfort’s win over Hampshire last week catapulted the Falcons into position to host at least two playoff games—and ended the Trojans’ season in a win-and-in situation for the second straight year.
Brady Watson spent most of the year leading Class AA in scoring before being eclipsed by Bridgeport’s Anthony Bonamico; the junior enters the playoffs with 1,161 yards on just 168 carries, finding the end zone 23 times, one behind Bonamico.
Gage Shaffer, second team all-state as a sophomore, has passed for 978 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior this year.
RCB has won four straight games, all by double digits, to enter the playoffs with momentum.
Juwan Jones-Wright has rushed for 545 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 69 carries to lead the team, while Elias Grant finished the regular season with 532 yards and seven TD’s.
Quarterback Julian Marino threw for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns against only one interception.
The Falcons took care of Summers County, a possible second round opponent should they advance, by a 38-7 score last year in the first round before losing at Bridgeport, 28-0.
RCB went to the semifinals last year, defeating Braxton County (27-21) and Bluefield (34-20) before being blanked by Wayne, 18-0.
Frankfort is 3-0 in first round games under head coach Kevin Whiteman and haven’t lost a home playoff game in a decade.
Although the two schools have never met in a regular season game, they have scrimmaged the last few seasons.
No. 10 Keyser (7-3) at No. 7 Fairmont Senior (8-2)
Keyser, last year’s state runner-up, ran into a tough schedule early, losing to Wheeling Park, Fort Hill, and Bridgeport, three schools that have a combined two losses entering the postseason.
But the Golden Tornado, bitten by the injury bug all year (even coach Sean Biser has a recently torn ACL), looked more like their 2012 selves recently, winning a 47-41 shootout against Jefferson, burying rival Frankfort in the Mineral Bowl by a 42-3 score, and pitching their second shutout of the year against Mountain Ridge, 46-0.
Their potential road to Wheeling, certainly much tougher out of the 10-spot instead of the No. 2 seed they occupied this year, will begin with the short trip to Fairmont Senior.
Senior quarterback Cody Eversole has blossomed into a dangerous runner in his third year as the starter for KHS, leading the team with 894 yards on just 101 carries, scoring 10 touchdowns. Nine of Eversole’s 31 completed passes have gone for touchdowns.
Powerful Danny Fife has 872 yards and 11 scores.
Blake Ravenscroft, second team all-state at running back last year, also looms as a major threat.
For Fairmont Senior, winners of four straight, Noah Harman is ninth in Class AA in rushing yards, finishing the regular season with 1,155 on a mere 103 carries, scoring 11 times.
Austin Norman is second in Class AA with 1,885 yards and first with 22 TD passes; Norman has surrendered only four interceptions.
Fairmont Senior is in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when they lost 35-16 as the No. 11 seed in Class AAA.
The two schools are meeting for the first time in football.
Saturday, November 16, 1:30 p.m.
No. 15 Spring Valley (6-4) at No. 2 Martinsburg (9-1)
Four straight state championships?
That’s what Martinsburg is four wins away from accomplishing.
The Bulldogs haven’t lost to an in-state foe since going out in the quarterfinals in 2009 to eventual champs South Charleston, 38-28.
Malique Watkins is fifth in Class AAA in rushing with 1,404 yards and 16 touchdowns and has passed for 596 yards and 10 more scores.
Deamonte Lindsay has 826 yards and nine scores on the ground and Eric Brown racked up 757 yards and 10 TD’s.
Spring Valley, who lost their final two games after a mid-season five-game winning streak, will look to the likes of Colby Webb (85 carries, 672 yards, nine touchdowns) and Tyler Brown (812 passing yards, seven touchdowns)
No. 10 Washington (7-3) at No. 7 Cabell Midland (8-2)
The Patriots’ first trip to the playoffs will be just that—a 361 mile journey, one-way, so far that Google Maps actually suggests a FLIGHT as an option.
Washington survived a tough schedule (their 30 bonus points are the most of any road team in Class AAA this year and more than two of the seeded teams), winning their final five games after a three-game losing streak to get in.
Colin Gustines has been tremendous: only Morgantown’s Chazzy Thomas has more than Gustines’ 1,769 rushing yards in Class AAA.
Gustines has found the end zone 20 times on rushes, with Matt Harris (91 for 172, 1,502 yards, 16 touchdowns, eight interceptions) providing the air support.
Kendell Smith (57 catches, 936 yards, 12 touchdowns) has been the chief beneficiary of Harris’s tosses.
As for Cabell Midland, last year’s runner-up have only losses to Huntington and Capital against them and some good wins over playoff teams George Washington, Spring Valley, and Hurricane for them.
Kasey Thomas has 1,173 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns to lead the way, while Teran Barnitz (906 yards, 11 touchdowns), Donte Hendricks (823 yards, 11 TD’s), and Alex Childers (43 carries, 553 yards, five TD’s) haven’t been too shabby either.
Coy Pettitt has 691 passing yards and eight touchdowns as well.