By Sean McNamara – Times West Virginian for WVMetroNews.com
Week 3 in the Eastern Panhandle had plenty of bright spots for local teams, particularly Martinsburg, East Hardy and Musselman, all of which improved to 3-0 on the season.
In Musselman’s win over Jefferson, running back Jacob Northcraft broke his school’s all-time rushing record, eclipsing the previous mark of 4,032 yards. The Applemen are off this week, and will look to move to 4-0 in Week 5 against Princeton.
Week 4 provides some intriguing matchups, highlighted Friday when a pair of undefeated teams – East Hardy and Pocahontas County – clash in a Class A contest.
The Bulldogs from Martinsburg will also look to improve to 4-0 when they host Spring Mills.
Four teams from the Eastern Panhandle – Martinsburg, Musselman, Keyser and East Hardy – have earned spots in this week’s WVMetroNews Power Rankings, and will look to continue on their success so far this season.
Pendleton County, Berkeley Springs, Washington and Jefferson all come into the week with an opportunity to pick up their first wins of the season.
Pocahontas County (3-0) at East Hardy (3-0), Friday
Headlining this week’s games in the Eastern Panhandle is a matchup of undefeated Class A opponents as No. 6 Pocahontas County travels to East Hardy to take on the Warriors.
Pocahontas County comes into Friday’s Week 4 matchup boasting a 3-0 record, with wins over Tucker County, Moorefield and Pendleton County, outscoring its opponents 109-33 in the process. The numbers are lopsided in Pocahontas County’s favor, but their opponents have a combined 1-8 record.
This week, the Warriors will face their first opponent with a winning record, and their first road game of the season when they take on East Hardy.
The Cougars, ranked second in this week’s WVMetroNews Class A Power Rankings, come into the game with a 3-0 record following a 10-7 win over Class A No. 9 Wheeling Central.
In that victory, which was the WVMetroNews Class A Game of the Week, Clay Skovron and Chance Grove connected on a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and following a 36-yard field goal from Nick Miller the Cougars built a 10-0 lead at halftime. That would be all the Cougars would need as they limited Wheeling Central to just a 6-yard touchdown run from Bray Price in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
Skovron completed 16-of-29 passes in the win for 187 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Star wide receiver Brett Tharp had three catches for 34 yards, but his play on defense, where he forced his team’s only turnover with an interception, played a key role in the way.
East Hardy won last year’s matchup against Pocahontas County, 37-3, and will look to move to 4-0 heading into its Week 5 matchup with Southern Garrett, Maryland.
Weir (3-0) at Keyser (1-1), Friday
One of the premier matchups in Class AA will take place in the Eastern Panhandle Friday as the Weir Red Riders visit Keyser in a matchup of Top 10 teams.
The visiting No. 7 Red Riders (3-0) enter Week 4 following a 29-26 win over John Marshall.
In the win, which saw Weir gain 376 yards of total offense, running back Tyler Mack rushed for 166 yards, including a key score in the fourth quarter that gave Weir the victory. Quarterback Tyler Komorowski made a key contribution to the offense, as well, passing for 107 and one score to Frank Ty Hudacheck.
While the Red Riders come into the game following a big victory in a thrilling game, the Golden Tornado enter Friday’s contest following a lopsided 59-0 loss to Maryland football powerhouse Fort Hill.
The Golden Tornado struggled to get anything going on offense in the game, getting inside the Fort Hill 10 yard line once, but failing to come away with any points.
Defensively, Keyser surrendered 259 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 10 Fort Hill possessions.
In last year’s matchup between the two teams, the Golden Tornado defeated the Red Riders, 28-14.
Spring Mills (2-1) at Martinsburg (3-0), Friday
The Martinsburg Bulldogs continued their dominant streak in Week 3 with a 45-9 win over Liberty Christian, Virginia.
Martinsburg quarterback Tyson Bagent accounted for three touchdowns in the win, one on a 9-yard run and the other two on touchdown passes to Shy Crawford and Michael Boaitey.
Martinsburg, which was once again a unanimous No. 1 in the WVMetroNews Class AAA Power Rankings, has now won 17 consecutive games dating back to a 2015 playoff loss to Capital.
This week’s opponent is Spring Mills, another Eastern Panhandle team off to a strong start this season.
In Week 3, the Cardinals easily defeated Hampshire, 42-18, thanks to touchdowns from Evin Hurt, DaQuan May and Anthony Harris.
The Bulldogs won last year’s matchup easily, 69-7, and will look to move to 4-0 and pick up consecutive win No. 18 this Friday at home against the Cardinals, who have never defeated the Bulldogs.
Hedgesville (2-1) at Jefferson (0-3), Friday
The 2-1 Hedgesville Eagles will travel to Jefferson Friday to take on a Cougars’ squad still looking for its first win in 2017.
The Eagles, who received two votes in this week’s WVMetroNews Class AAA Power Rankings, picked up a big win in Week 3, defeating Mountain Ridge, Maryland, 61-28.
Leading the way for Hedgesville was quarterback Jason Plotner, who threw for 406 yards and six touchdowns in the win.
This week’s opponent, the Jefferson Cougars, are in unfamiliar territory as they’ve opened the season 0-3 for the first time since 2011.
In last week’s 39-0 loss to Musselman (3-0), the Cougars showed they are vulnerable through the air, allowing Applemen quarterback Chris Fox to throw for 340 yards and five touchdowns.
With Plotner and the Eagles riding the hot streak of a week ago through the air, Jefferson’s secondary will play a crucial role in this week’s contest if the Cougars are to get their first win of the year.
Hampshire (1-1) at Petersburg (2-1), Friday
Both the Hampshire Trojans and Petersburg Vikings opened the season with victories, but enter Week 4 on the heels of a loss a week ago.
The 1-1 Trojans fell to Spring Mills, 42-18, while the Vikings lost on the road at Grafton, 28-13.
Berkeley Springs (0-3) at Frankfort (1-2), Friday
Heritage, Va., at Washington (0-3), Friday
Bath, Va., at Pendleton County (0-3), Friday