By: Wes McKinney
AAA No. 4 Huntington (1-0) at AAA No. 10 Spring Valley (1-0)
This matchup has quietly become one of the better rivalry games in the area — Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess and Huntington head coach Billy Seals speak highly of each other and the playoff-contending programs they have built in their short tenures at each school
Since Dingess took over Spring Valley in 2008, the Timberwolves have made the playoffs each year.
“Our coaching staff feels like Brad Dingess is the best coach in the MSAC,” Huntington head coach Billy Seals. “He does a tremendous job at Spring Valley.”
Meanwhile, Seals has taken Huntington from the lower level of Class AAA to the state runners-up in five short seasons.
“Four or five years ago, Huntington wasn’t a physical football team, they were more of a finese, spread team,” Dingess said. “Coach Seals has changed the culture there. Everyone has always thought that was a goldmine if the right guy got the job. Coach Seals is the right guy and he has it rolling right now.”
Friday night, these teams will battle for a key early season win in Class AAA with both teams eying a chunk playoff bonus points with a win. Both are coming off of relatively easy wins as Huntington defeated Hurricane 37-6 behind 100 yards rushing and one touchdown from Stefan Gibbs.
Likewise, Spring Valley took down St. Albans 42-16 with 260 yards of total offense and two touchdowns from quarterback Tyler Brown.
These squads are mirror images of one another as they will be looking to possess the ball and play hard-nosed defense.
“If we turn the ball over and they get some big plays, we are going to be hurting,” Dingess said. “Both defenses are going to have to try to make each other drive the entire field. It’s going to be tough to go the entire length of the field. The big key is who wins the turnover battle.”
Spring Valley offensive linemen Alex Locklear and Trevor Stacy could play pivotal roles in the contest.
“They have been annihilating the left sides of defenses,” Seals said.
AA No. 1 Wayne (1-0) at AA No. 5 Sissonville (1-0)
Wayne got by upset-minded Tolsia last week, 40-18, to set up an important early-season matchup in Class AA between the Pioneers and Indians. The win was Wayne coach Tom Harmon’s 175th at the school.
Junior quarterback Grant Ferguson spearheaded the Wayne attack with 245 yards through the air and three touchdowns.Running backs Mason Hodge added 135 yards on just seven carries and one touchdown. Cody Stiltner nabbed 186 yards from Ferguson and added a receiving touchdown.
This will be the third meeting between the teams within the last year. Wayne defeated Sissonville in week five of the regular season, 58-19 before eliminating the Indians from the playoffs in the second round, 48-7 in 2013.
Tolsia (0-1) at AA No. 8 Mingo Central (1-0)
The Miners got a big early-season win by knocking off then-No. 10 Wyoming East. After a low-scoring first half, Mingo Central opened up the game in the second half in the 37-28 win.
Despite winning by just nine points, the Miners outgained Wyoming East 479-188. Mingo Central showed great balance with three different players picking up over 100 yards on the ground, highlighted by quarterback Stephen Hammond’s 172 yards. Running back Chase Justice rumbled for 138 yards and three touchdows while Joe Hunt gained 117 yards, scoring one touchdown.
Mingo Central will host a pesky Tolsia team that competed with No. 1 Wayne for a large portion of the game before the Pioneers pulled away for a 40-18 win.
AAA No. 7 Point Pleasant (1-0) at Ripley (0-1)
Point Pleasant coasted by Lincoln County during the opening week 54-0 behind the strength of three rushing touchdowns from Cody Mitchell as well as 136 yards on the ground.
“I thought (Aden) Yates threw the ball well and Cody Mitchell ran the ball well,” Point Pleasant head coach David Darst said. “Defensively, I was very pleased. We started the season off where we were last year.”
The Big Blacks will focus their attention towards a rivalry game that is nearly 75 years old. Point Pleasant and Ripley will battle each other for the Old Oaken Bucket. The towns are separated by just 30 miles.
“It means a lot to our town and I’m sure it means a lot to Ripley,” Darst said.
Even though Ripley dropped its opener to Parkersburg South 35-27, Darst is impressed by what he sees on film from the Vikings.
“Quarterback Trevor Tucker does a great job,” he said. “They have the ability to throw the ball down the field. Defensively, they are very active. They play a 4-4 and they like to get after you. We’re going to have to be disciplined offensively to make sure we pick up our assignments.”
Winfield (0-1) at AAA No. 8 Cabell Midland (1-0)
Cabell Midland running back Alex Childers led the Knights to an opening week drubbing of Riverside, 63-13, with 198 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.
The Knights are trying to develop depth as the season goes on while replacing 18 starters from last season. The blowout win helped head coach Luke Salmons work in some new players.
“We played well, but we still have improvements to make,” Salmons said. “Some of those things you don’t see until you watch it on film. We did a good job of coming out strong and being physical.”
Making his Cabell Midland debut was Hurricane transfer Caperton Humphrey who rushed for 88 yards and two scores.
“We worked six running backs leading up to the Riverside game,” Salmons said. “All six of those kids can run the ball.”
Meanwhile, Winfield is coming off a shutout loss against Woodrow Wilson, 28-0.
“They run a good scheme and they know what they’re doing every play,” Salmons said. “I’ve watched them in their scrimmages and watched them against Woodrow Wilson, they play hard every play.”
Mount View at A No. 7 Man (1-0)
An overtime touchdown from Mikle Rowe was the difference in the game against Logan as the Hillbilles defeated the Wildcats for the first time since 2009, 32-26. Rowe finished last week’s game with 64 yards and two touchdowns while Man was led by Neil Mullins who had 132 yards on 24 carries.
After taking down Class AAA Logan in week one, the Hillbillies will be seeking to topple Class AA Mount View to earn more bonus points that could prove large against fellow Class A teams in November.
AA No. 10 Scott (1-0) at Lincoln County (0-1)
Coming off of a disappointing 2013 season, Scott had a little extra incentive to win its season opener against Herbert Hoover in 2014.
“It’s been over a decade since we lost a season opener,” Scott head coach Shane Griffith said.
The Skyhawks got revenge on the Huskies as they edged them 28-27 in week one.
Scott will now turn its attention to earning some extra bonus points as they face-off with Class AAA Lincoln County.
“Derek Christian is a great football coach and a great football guy,” Griffith said. “He’s going to have his kids prepared. We can’t allow it to become a track game where we allow one week of success to define ourselves.”
Shady Spring (0-1) at Logan (0-1)
Sherman (0-1) at Calhoun County (1-0)
Hannan (0-1) at South Floyd, Ky. (0-1)
Fort Frye, Ohio (0-1) at Van (0-1)
Tug Valley (1-0) at Meadow Bridge (1-0)