By Philip See for WVMetroNews.com
Sissonville (5-1) at Winfield (4-2)
With its only loss on the season coming Mingo Central, Sissonville is still in good position to finish second place in the Cardinal Conference. If the Indians knock off Winfield this week, their game against Wayne next week would likely be for sole possession of second place.
A win over the Generals would also provide Sissonville with valuable playoff points, putting the Indians on the trajectory toward claiming a top-4 seed for the second consecutive season. At 5-1, Sissonville is also in better position to be able to absorb a loss and still make the AA playoff field, should it lose this week.
In Winfield loses, however, it would greatly diminish the Generals’ playoff hopes. They would drop to 4-3 on the season with a Week 11 battle with Mingo Central still looming. Depending on how the playoff picture works itself out, it is possible that Winfield may need a win over either Sissonville or Mingo Central just to make the playoffs.
If the Generals do win this week, their bid for the playoffs will be in good shape. The possibility of hosting a first round game will remain alive as well as the possibility of winning the Cardinal Conference, though they would probably need to beat Mingo Central as well for either of those to happen. This game will go a long way in sorting out the Cardinal as well as the AA playoff picture.
Huntington (6-0) at Hurricane (4-2)
Hurricane was unable to keep the momentum going from its win over Spring Valley and fell to Capital a week ago. The Cougars held down the Hurricane offense that exploded for 41 points against Spring Valley and came away with the 34-16 victory.
The brutal three game stretch for Hurricane wraps up this week against Huntington. At 6-0, the Highlanders are the only unbeaten team remaining in the MSAC and sit atop the conference standings. They are also one of just three undefeated AAA teams in the state, and they currently hold the top AAA playoff position in the WVSSAC ratings.
If Hurricane, which is currently tied for seventh in the AAA playoff ratings, is going to make a push to host a playoff game, it probably needs this win over Huntington. The win could solidify Hurricane’s spot in the top eight and allow it to make a push for the top four.
Finishing the Spring Valley-Capital-Huntington stretch of games with one win and two losses would not necessarily be catastrophic for Hurricane. The squad lost all three of those games last year and went on the road in the first round of the playoffs to knock off University. Falling to 4-3 this week would not be an insurmountable obstacle for playoff success.
The trouble with dropping to 4-3, however, is that Hurricane’s schedule eases only slightly over the last three weeks. It must travel to face a good Parkersburg squad next week, then make the short trip to George Washington, and then wrap up the season at home against a dangerous St. Albans team.
Hurricane’s playoff possibilities are still varied, but a win over Huntington would go a long way in solidifying its playoff position.
St. Albans (3-4) at South Charleston (3-3)
It is always difficult to call a contest that is not a true elimination game a “must win,” but this game is pretty close for these two teams to remain in playoff contention.
With the number of AAA teams reduced to 29, teams do still have a slight chance of making the playoffs with a 5-5 record. If St. Albans loses, it would be the team’s fifth loss, meaning the Red Dragons would likely have to win their final two games against Cabell Midland and Hurricane to have a chance at their first playoff berth in a decade.
South Charleston is in a little better position, but picking up a fourth loss would be very damaging to its playoff hopes. The Black Eagles have games at Huntington and Capital next two weeks. If South Charleston cannot knock of St. Albans, it would have to win at least one of those two tough games just to have a chance to sneak in the playoff field at 5-5.
If St. Albans is to come away with the victory, it will have to come up with a way to neutralize South Charleston’s athleticism.
“So many athletes,” St. Albans coach Scott Tinsley said of the Black Eagle squad. “They’ve got Trae Murphy at quarterback. He’s another one of those guys—and we’ve faced a bunch of them lately, and Grant Wells hurt us last week—able to scramble and make plays.”
South Charleston has dominated the series in recent years. The Black Eagles have knocked off St. Albans nine consecutive times, many of which have been in blowout fashion. Last year, however, they just narrowly edged the Red Dragons 39-38.
“I’m sure they’ll be ready for us this year because we took them to the wire last year,” Tinsley said.
Woodrow Wilson (1-6) at Capital (4-2)
Riverside (3-4) at Morgantown (4-3)
St. Albans (3-4) at South Charleston (3-3)
Buffalo (1-5) at Valley (Fayette) (2-5)