Class A No. 10 Sherman (5-1) at No. 2 South Harrison (6-0)
South Harrison speedster Freddy Canary is becoming one of the most talked about players in West Virginia high school football.
“He’s such a great kid and a hard worker,” South Harrison coach Brad Jett told the MetroNews High School Sportsline show recently. “He keeps telling me he’s the fastest guy in West Virginia. I believe him.
“He just hits another gear,” Jett continues. “He has great vision and he makes great cuts. He hits the secondary and hits another gear. I’ve never witnessed a whole lot like what he can accomplish.”
Canary has won a total of eight state track championship events in sprints and relays was named the 2017 Gatorade West Virginia boys track athlete of the year. On the football field, he is averaging 10.8 yards per carry as he has 936 yards on just 86 tries. He has 20 rushing touchdowns and he has brought two kicks back for touchdowns.
It’s a well rounded South Harrison offense that averages 45 points per game.
“You have to give a lot of credit to our line and to Cam (Barnette) as the lead blocker,” Canary said. “We all grew up together winning championships as little kids. We’ve got a good team chemistry and we all love each other and we’ve got each others back.”
Canary will have a difficult challenge against a Sherman defense that has allowed less than one touchdown per game. Sherman also runs the football very well with its triple option. Ben Salmon, J.T. Hensley and Seth Rinchich have combined for nearly 1,800 yards.
South Harrison has a brutal schedule coming down the stretch with Sherman, St. Marys, East Hardy and Liberty in consecutive weeks. Those teams are a combined 23-1.
“We’ll just keep working hard and going one game at a time,” Canary said. “Sherman is going to be extremely tough. They run the ball well like us. Our defensive coordinator Mark Clayton does a great job of setting us up for success each week.”
Both South Harrison and Sherman are looking to make a longer playoff run this year after going out in the first round last year. A nine-win South Harrison team was beaten by Williamstown in the first round. Sherman finished 8-3 after losing on the road to Wheeling Central in 2016.
Class AAA No. 2 University (7-0) at No. 16 Buckhannon-Upshur (3-3)
The Hawks play their final two regular season road games in back to back weeks at Buckhannon and Preston leading up to the MoHawk Bowl during Week 10. The Hawks clamped down defensively in the second half to move past Hampshire 39-19 last week.
“We didn’t have the energy we should have had last week but we were coming off three very emotional games in a row,” said University coach John Kelley. “But you saw how good our defense can be as we held them to negative rushing yards in the second half after struggling in the first half.”
Senior defensive end Hayden Starcher has emerged as the leader of the Hawks defense as he had 11 tackles last week including a sack and six tackles for loss.
Starcher leads the team now with 52 tackles and six sacks.
“He was second team all-state last year and more people are going to know about him this year because he is going to be first team all-state this year,” Kelley said. “We’ve been thin and inexperienced at linebacker at times this year because of injuries and Hayden has just taken over as the leader of this group from up front.”
University beat Buckhannon 34-21 last year as Amir Richardson sparked the Hawks with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Trevor Barnhart, Owen Zeiders and Robert Sanders also scored touchdowns. It was the first meeting between the two schools since 2013.
Riverside (3-4) at Class AAA No. 10 Morgantown (4-3)
The Mohigans have won back-to-back games over Musselman and Wheeling Park after a tough early season schedule led to an 0-2 start.
“It’s nice to finally be on the plus-side of that .500 mark for the first time this season,” remarked Morgantown coach Matt Lacey. “That early part of the schedule is what made us a better football team at this point. You hear the term ‘battle tested’ but playing those games early on has toughened this team up. They’ve grown up and they’ve learned what it takes to have success.
Morgantown lost to North Allegheny (PA), Steubenville (OH) and Martinsburg. Two of those three games were on the road.
“We were beat up and our guys could have packed up the tents and given up on the season but we didn’t do that,” Lacey said.
Following the Riverside matchup, MHS will close with conference opponents John Marshall and University. Those two teams have a combined record of 12-2.
Class AA No. 5 Bridgeport (6-1) at Elkins (3-3)
Bridgeport earned a top 10 win as it jumped up on North Marion 40-0 eventually winning the game 40-22.
Defensive back Jake Bowen set up three first half touchdowns with interceptions.
“Both lines played very well which set the tone,” said Bridgeport coach John Cole. “Jake Bowen had a phenomenal game on defense. We just took advantage of the opportunities that came our way with the short field.”
Bridgeport started drives at the nine, 43 and 29 yard lines and scored each time. Bowen led the offense as well with 128 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Bridgeport will finish the season now vs. 3-3 Elkins, 5-1 Keyser and 4-2 Lincoln.
“We’ve had to overcome a lot since (a week four loss) in the Fairmont West game,” Cole said. “We had a couple of bad weeks with some injuries and hopefully we’ll be getting those players back in the next few weeks.
“Some other kids have been put into the fire and they’ve responded to coaching and to their teammates,” Cole continued. “We’ve had kids step up and that’s paid off with the depth. We are hoping to get healthy and stay healthy for the playoffs which will help us get better.”
Class AA No. 3 Fairmont Senior (6-1) at Preston 1-5
Fairmont Senior was impressive in a 49-20 road win at Weir last week.
“We matched their physicality and our offense looked really good,” said Fairmont Senior coach Nick Bartic. “The line blocked very well and our receivers blocked very well. All of the little things we handled very well.”
Bryson Gilbert finished with six total touchdowns and Connor Neal threw for 10 yards.
“Our offensive line took care of business and that’s what allowed us to be balanced,” Bartic said.
Fairmont Senior will close out the regular season against 1-5 Preston, 3-3 Grafton and 0-6 East Fairmont.
Braxton County at Grafton
East Fairmont at Liberty Harrison
Lewis County at North Marion
Lincoln at Roane County
Gilmer County at Calhoun County
Clay-Battelle at Cameron
Parkersburg Catholic at Notre Dame
Doddridge County at Ravenswood