Class AA No. 4 Fairmont Senior (3-0) at No. 2 Bridgeport (3-0)
These two teams last met in the 2016 state semifinals. Fairmont Senior won 22-21 in double overtime on then-quarterback Jake Abbott’s two point conversion run. It was the Polar Bears’ first win in the series since 2006. It also snapped Bridgeport’s 38-game unbeaten streak.
“Ever since my freshman year its been a big game,” said Bridgeport quarterback John Merica. “They got us last year but we used that as fuel during the offseason to get better.
“It’s always a physical game and we’ll have to match that,” Merica continued. “Our line has done a spectacular job so far this year. That’s the only way we get yardage.”
Merica will be back in the lineup for the Indians after missing last week’s game against East Fairmont with an injury.
Fairmont Senior has scored 114 points so far in home wins over RCB, Lewis County and North Marion. First year starting quarterback Connor Neal has thrown for 665 yards, nine touchdowns with zero interceptions.
“We just strive to keep improving,” Neal said. “We don’t want to take any steps back. We want to keep getting better and improve on what we did last year.”
While Fairmont Senior has rolled past its first three opponents, Bridgeport got a significant test in a 35-28 win over Wheeling Park during week two of the season.
Big plays were the story of that game as Bridgeport scored three touchdowns of 49-plus yards while piling up 300 rushing yards. It’s another fast start for a Bridgeport team that is a constant contender. This, however, isn’t just another game.
“We’ve been waiting for it all summer,” Merica stated.
Class AAA No. 1 University (3-0) at No. 7 Wheeling Park (2-1)
The Hawks had their first close game of the season last week at Brooke. It was a one-score game in the fourth quarter before senior defensive back Owen Zeiders brought an interception back 56 yards for a score. Then, senior Robert Sanders added a 35-yard scoring run for the 34-15 final.
“It was our mistakes that kept the game close,” said UHS coach John Kelley. “We can’t continue to make these self-inflicted mistakes. We’ve been fortunate to get away with it so far.”
Kelley is referring to penalties, bad snaps and the five turnovers committed in three games so far. The Hawks have a trip to Wheeling Park this week and a home game against Fairmont Senior next week.
“If we do those types of things against a team like Wheeling Park and we’ll be down by three touchdowns,” Kelley lamented.
The UHS defensive unit has had an outstanding start. The Hawks have forced eight turnovers and have scored defensive touchdowns in each of the first three games.
“It’s always good to be plus on the turnover side,” Kelley said. “But when you start getting those defensive touchdowns, that makes a very good football team.”
Brooke (0-2) at Morgantown (1-2)
The Mohigans survived a tough start to the season with losses to out of state opponents. MHS won its Two Rivers Athletic Conference opener over Parkersburg South 31-10 last week. The Mohigans found a solid offensive weapon in junior running back Ty Konchesky. Konchesky finished with 247 yards and three touchdowns running out of the ‘Dozer’ formation with two lead blockers in the backfield.
“We noticed some things they were doing defensively and we were able to spring him in the second half,” said Morgantown coach Matt Lacy. “It was about who was getting blocked and the point of attack.”
The Mohigans defense has created six turnovers the last two games. They didn’t not allow an offensive score in the Parkersburg South win.
“Turnovers are huge,” Lacy said. “We’ve put a real emphasis on that with three turnover stations in practice. We do some strip stuff and some interception stuff. It’s nice to see that work pay off.”
Class AA No. 12 North Marion (2-1) at No. 7 Elkins (2-0)
Elkins has had success early by running the football and playing great defense. Thomas Talkington and Daniel Romans combined for 400 rushing yards and three touchdowns last week in a 24-3 win over Lewis County.
Elkins held the Minutemen out of the end zone as they’ve gone two games without allowing a touchdown.
Philip Barbour (2-1) at No. 9 Liberty (2-0)
The running back combination of Dalton Westfall and Broderick Lantz helped Liberty win seven games and reach the playoffs last year. Both surpassed the 1,000 yard mark as they combined for 31 touchdowns in 2016.
Both players have shined two games into the new season. Westfall rushed for 343 yards and four touchdowns during a season opening win over Notre Dame. Lantz then rushed for 309 yards and three touchdowns vs. Lincoln last week.
Lincoln (1-2) at Buckhannon-Upshur (1-1)
Steubenville Catholic at South Harrison (2-0)
Robert C. Byrd (2-1) at Preston (0-3)
Lewis County (0-3) at Braxton County (1-1)
Valley (Wetzel) (1-2) at Clay-Battelle (2-0)
Grafton (2-1) at Notre Dame (1-2)
Gilmer County (0-3) at Sherman (2-1)
Doddridge County (1-2) at Tygarts Valley (1-2)