By Eric Little – Seven Ranges Radio for WVMetroNews.com

It’s never ideal when off-field issues are the lead story in any sport, especially at the high school level. But that’s what happened last week in the Mid-Ohio Valley with the cancellation of the scheduled St.Marys-Parkersburg Catholic matchup.

A brief synopsis: Parkersburg Catholic entered its season with just 14 players, and successfully completed two prior contests with Magnolia and Ritchie County.

The Crusaders had full intentions of playing St. Marys on Friday. But last Wednesday, Parkersburg Catholic athletic director Danny Tennant – the former football coach at the school and the architect of what once was a proud small school program – was told the school’s football team would have just 11 players medically cleared to play Friday.

Tennant picked up the phone and made the call no athletic director wants to make – the one to tell an opponent you won’t be able to fulfill your game contract with that school. St. Marys head coach and athletic director Jodi Mote understood and after consulting with the SSAC, both teams decided the “mutual decision” option was best, meaning no forfeit win or loss was decided. Both teams will now be rated for the postseason based on nine-game schedules.

In a statement released to the media, SMHS principal Jeff Sole announced the teams would no longer continue a football series and announced that Roane County would fill that slot on the St. Marys schedule next year.

From a business standpoint, football games make up a huge chunk of a school’s athletic bottom line, even in Class A. Especially in Class A. Even though St. Marys will likely host at least one playoff game this year, that’s revenue the school will split with the SSAC and another school. St. Marys went from five opportunities to make substantial money through home football games this season to just four.

From a football standpoint, Mote understands this probably works out better for the team than if they’d played or even accepted a forfeit win from a Parkersburg Catholic team that could potentially go winless this season, if they even return to the field in the first place.

Finally, this hurts the student-athletes most of all. Both teams will now only get to play nine games this season – and that’s only if Parkersburg Catholic can field a team in future weeks. Because at the heart of it, all these young men want to do is play. Hopefully, they’ll have the chance.

Here are this week’s games, including a Thursday night special. All game dates/times listed:

 

Marietta, Ohio (3-0) at St. Marys (2-0) (Thursday 7:00)

In addition to giving us boundless funnel cakes and corn dogs, the Pleasants County Agricultural Youth Fair – a Friday through Sunday event – has forced this game ahead to Thursday. This ends up working pretty well for St. Marys after last week’s cancellation with Parkersburg Catholic. Because of that and a scheduled bye next week, the Blue Devils have just this game on their schedule in a 28-day span.

But just like how those funnel cakes and corn dogs can lead to indigestion, so too can the thought of defending Marietta’s potent offense. The Tigers racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense against Williamstown a week ago in a 49-14 win over the Yellowjackets.

Quarterback Corbin Alkire threw for 220 yards and three scores, while running for another touchdown. Dominic VanFossen ran for two other Marietta scores. All of that is enough to make the Blue Devils reach for the Tums. Or the Rolaids. Or both.

Not that Parkersburg Catholic would’ve done it, but St. Marys hasn’t been tested like this yet this season. And even though the Blue Devils didn’t play last week, remember, they still spent the first three days preparing for a run-first Parkersburg Catholic attack. So the only thing the unscheduled off week did for St. Marys, from a preparation standpoint, is give the Blue Devils extra time to heal.

St. Marys will see whether or not first-year starting quarterback Eric Illar has what it takes to rise to the occasion in a big moment. Running backs Jaiden Smith and Dylan Gray will need to shoulder the load and help their signal-caller.

Defensively, we’ll see where St. Marys is when it comes to handling a multifaceted attack like Marietta’s. Win or lose, this will be good preparation for bigger games down the road.

This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) and online at www.literock93r.com.

 

Williamstown (1-2) at Wheeling Central (0-2) (Friday 7:00)

Here’s a novelty: Williamstown and Wheeling Central have played a collective five games this season and have just one win between the schools. Not what you’re used to seeing, but “not what you’re used to seeing” has been the theme for Williamstown this season.

Even in a win against Tyler Consolidated, the Yellowjackets allowed 32 points to Tyler Consolidated. In back-to-back losses, Williamstown has allowed 45 and 49 points respectively to Magnolia and Marietta, Ohio. After allowing Magnolia’s Hunter Partridge to run roughshod over their defense last week, the Yellowjackets limited Marietta running back Dominic VanFossen to just 60 yards on 14 carries – still an average of just over four yards per carry.

Wheeling Central lost two games to extraordinarily tough competition. First it was Ohio powerhouse Steubenville, then last week, the Maroon Knights made the long trek to Baker, West Virginia to take on state runner-up East Hardy – and fell 10-7 in a defensive struggle.

For Williamstown, bottling the Wheeling Central offense is a must. Points will come from their offense. For Wheeling Central, a quick start will be huge after two tough losses to start the year.

 

Parkersburg (1-1) at Huntington (3-0) (Friday 7:30)

New Parkersburg head coach Mike Byus received a rough welcome to the Mountain State Athletic Conference from Capital last week.

After picking up a win in his head coaching debut, the Byus-led Big Reds took their lumps in a 40-21 loss to the Cougars, falling behind 27-0 before scoring on the final play of the first half. And things don’t get easier this week with a trip to Huntington.

The Highlanders don’t just have three wins, they’ve got three wins over quality opponents – Belfry, Kentucky; Spring Valley and George Washington. But next week, they’ll see a tough matchup with Capital. It’s possible the Big Reds could find Huntington looking too far down the schedule, or a group that’s worn down from three rugged games to start the year.

For Parkersburg, the biggest indicator of how well the Big Reds have taken to their new coach won’t come this week. It’ll come a few weeks down the road when PHS gets out of their early-season MSAC gauntlet. Even so, the schedule still has tough tests ahead against Marietta, Ohio and Wheeling Park.

 

Ripley (2-1) at St. Albans (1-2) (Friday 7:30)

If you like teams that can play sound, run-first football, Ripley is for you. Of their 285 total yards in a 33-28 loss last week to Riverside, more than 200 of them came on the ground. The only problem with that is the difficulty in coming from behind when you trail in games, like Ripley did last week.

Ripley got a passing touchdown late last week on a gadget play with running back JT Kemp connecting with quarterback Brayden Campbell on a 52-yard touchdown play. Campbell – normally the team’s signal-caller – threw just six times (completing four passes) for only 32 yards. The Vikings will need to find some way to throw the ball if they want to make the late-season run they’re capable of making.

However, Ripley’s probably fine running the ball this week against a St. Albans team that’s allowed more than 40 points in both losses this year.

 

Princeton (0-2) at Parkersburg South (0-3) (Friday 7:30)

Parkersburg South dropped both ends of their Morgantown double-dip each of the last two weeks. The first was a 49-24 loss to University that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

The second was a 31-10 loss to Morgantown that actually WAS closer than the score would have you believe, especially through three quarters. Morgantown scored on the final two of Ty Konchesky’s three touchdowns in the final quarter to grab a 21-point win.

I feel like I could sum up South’s loss to Morgantown by channeling Bill Hader’s Stefon character from Saturday Night Live, when talking about “New York’s hottest club.” This game had everything…a kickoff return touchdown, a pick-six, both teams connecting on field goals, South committing four turnovers, a Morgantown fullback busting loose for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and so much more.

South struggled again on offense, failing to pick up 200 total yards for the second straight week. The Patriots had just seven first downs and didn’t get their first until the game was already tied at 10.

Their only score came on Tyee Gibson’s 98-yard kickoff return midway through the second quarter. Part of the problem was the fact South played without injured running back/linebacker Nick Yoho. They’ll hope to have him back Friday.

Princeton has their own offensive problems. The Tigers were shut out two weeks ago in a 62-0 loss to Class AA Bluefield. In their opener, Princeton managed just 19 points in an overtime loss to Buckhannon-Upshur. New Princeton head coach Chris Pedigo will be looking for answers on offense this week as well. He’d also be well-served to spend some time working with his kick coverage teams.

This game can be heard locally on V96.9 FM and online at www.v969radio.net.

 

Wirt County (2-1) at Parkersburg Catholic (0-2) (Friday 7:00)

A week after a shutout loss to St. Marys, Wirt County flexed the same offensive muscles as they did on opening week in a 36-28 win over Gilmer County. Quarterback Casey Stanley ran for two scores and threw for another.

Wirt was also boosted by a 134-yard, two-touchdown effort from Dakota Richards. But if you’ve read any of the above about Parkersburg Catholic, you probably know what happened with the Crusaders last week. We’ll whether or not this one happens Friday.

 

Ravenswood (1-1) at Tyler Consolidated (1-2) (Friday 7:00)

In their second straight back-and-forth contest, Tyler Consolidated found themselves on the losing end of a 34-33 decision against Webster County. A touchdown with 3:38 to play put Webster County ahead for good and handed the Silver Knights a one-point setback.

Tyler’s Griffin Phillips ran for 138 yards and three scores in the losing cause. Ravenswood returns to action after a bye week. The Red Devils own a win against Wahama and a loss against the same Webster County team that handed Tyler an L last week. With two weeks to prepare, we’ll see what Ravenswood has in store for the Silver Knights.

This game will air locally on WXCR-FM (92.3 FM) and online at www.wxcr.com.

 

Ritchie County (1-2) at Calhoun County (0-3) (Friday 7:00)

After breaking their 27-game losing streak two weeks ago, Ritchie County fell short in their bid to make it two in a row in a 22-6 loss to Frontier, Ohio. The game didn’t feature a ton of offense – both teams combined to gain just 362 total yards.

The Rebels stand a solid chance to get back into the win column against a struggling Calhoun County squad. The Red Devils have been limited to just six points in three losses to start the year. This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) and online at www.literock93r.com.

 

Other Games:

Bridgeport, Ohio (0-3) at Paden City (0-2) (Friday 7:00)

Wahama (0-3) at Belpre, Ohio (1-2) (Friday 7:30)

Nicholas County (3-0) at Roane County (0-3) (Friday 7:30)

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