By Fred Persinger II
#9 Oak Hill (8-2) at #8 George Washington (8-2)
For the second year in a row, the Oak Hill Red Devils have made the playoffs. Last year, Oak Hill came in ranked 16th and was quickly eliminated by Cabell Midland. This year, the Red Devils rose to the No. 9 spot in the rankings, and will be on the road again this year at George Washington.
Oak Hill is led by running back Jalen Jones, who has still put up great numbers this year despite being injured for about half the season. But Jones is not the only weapon that the Red Devils have, K.K. Goodman and Jerrell Green have helped Jones carry the load for Oak Hill this year.
For George Washington, gone are some great weapons from the 2012 team that lost to Martinsburg. But head coach Steve Edwards, Jr. has put together another solid football team that has had a successful 8-2 season.
George Washington started the season at 6-0, but has since gone 2-2 with losses to Cabell Midland and Capital. The Patriots have a couple of good running backs in Draven Riffe and Jacob Jackson.
These two teams have not played any common opponents this season. Oak Hill has faced two teams that are in the Class AAA playoffs in Lewis County and Point Pleasant, and two teams that are in the Class AA playoffs in Nicholas County and Bluefield. George Washington, meanwhile, has faced five teams that have made the postseason – Paul Blazer out of Ashland Ky., South Charlesston, Cabell Midland, Hurricane, and Capital.
Oak Hill and George Washington will play Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
#14 Ravenswood (6-4) at #3 Bluefield (8-2)
The Bluefield Beavers will start their quest for their 11th state football championship this Saturday at Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield against Ravenswood. Bluefield has had another solid regular season, with just two losses by a combined five points. A 32-29 loss to Class AAA Princeton in week two, and then a 29-27 loss to #1 Wayne last week.
Bluefield has been led all season by Corey Coppola and D.J. Stewart as both players have rushed for close to 900 yards this season. Quarterback R.J. Bourne has had a great year quarterback with over 1,100 yards passing and close to another 300 yards rushing.
Bluefield head coach Fred Simon enters the game trying to get his 42nd playoff victory as a head coach. His 41 current wins lead the state with Wayne’s Tom Harmon second (31) and Martinsburg’s Dave Walker third (30).
Bluefield and Ravenswood will play on Saturday at Mitchell Stadium.
#12 Ritchie County (7-3) at #5 Summers County (9-1)
Summers County is back in the playoffs again, following a 9-1 season – that lone loss came 23-16 to Covington, Va. Summers County has defeated three other teams that have made the playoffs in Class AA Wyoming East and Class A Greenbrier West and Meadow Bridge.
Ritchie County will come into the game on Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 record, having faced four opponents that are in the playoffs – St. Mary’s, Roane County, Ravenswood and Williamstown.
#11 Nicholas County (8-2) at #6 Wyoming East (9-1)
The Wyoming East Warriors will play host to Nicholas County in the first round of the playoffs. Wyoming East comes into the matchup playing its best ball of the season, winning six games in a row after suffering their only loss of the season to Summers County. Wyoming East has outscored its opponents 207-87 in those six wins.
The Nicholas County Grizzlies started the season 2-2, but have since won six in a row as well. For Nicholas County, the defense has stepped up as the Grizzlies have shut out four of their last six opponents. They’ve also outscored their opponents 240-14 in that span.
Nicholas County will travel to New Richmond to battle Wyoming East on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
#14 Magnolia (6-4) at #3 Valley Fayette (10-0)
The Valley Greyhounds completed a special 10-0 season, which is the first time that has happened in school history. The reward, though, is a matchup against one of the better teams in the bottom half of the bracket in Magnolia. The Blue Eagles are 6-4, but have played maybe the toughest schedule in Class A this season. The four losses for the Blue Eagles were to Linsly, Williamstown, Wheeling Central and St. Marys. Magnolia is led by quarterback Jake Brill, running back Drew Keller and receiver Eric Smith.
For the Valley Greyhounds, they have only played one team that has made the postseason. Still, Valley features some of the better speed in Class A that has helped gain that No. 3 ranking. Valley is led by Quarterback Raeshawn Brekenridge and running back Keyshawn Payne.
Magnolia and Valley will play Saturday at University of Charleston Stadium.
#11 Meadow Bridge (8-2) at #6 Moorefield (9-1)
The Meadow Bridge Wildcats will make the longest trip of any local team in the first round as they will have to travel four hours to Moorefield to take on the Yellowjackets. For Meadow Bridge, it has been the running of senior Jake Parker all season to lead the Wildcats.
Meadow Bridge began the year looking like it would be able to host a playoff game as they started 5-0, but two losses to playoff teams in Valley and Summers County ultimately dropped the Wildcats to the bottom half of the rankings, putting them on the road in the first round.
Parker, meanwhile, has 2,368 yards on the ground, and 32 rushing touchdowns.
Meadow Bridge and Moorefield will play on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
#10 Notre Dame (7-3) at #7 Greenbrier West (9-1)
The Greenbrier West Cavaliers finished up a another successful season with a 9-1 record – that lone loss coming in week five to Summers County, 27-20. Greenbrier West is led by Malik Boatright offensively who has had a outstanding senior season.
The Cavaliers have faced two other teams that are in the playoffs, both being Class AA teams in Summers County and also Nicholas County. Greenbrier West comes into the playoffs winning five games in a row and outscoring its opponents 214-57 in that span.
Notre Dame and Greenbrier West will play Friday night.