By Shawn Rine – The Wheeling Intelligencer and News-Register for WVMetroNews.com
Brooke at John Marshall
MOUNDSVILLE – A couple of streaks will be on the line Friday night at Monarch Stadium. Brooke enters with a two-game winning streak in this rivalry, while John Marshall (5-2) is riding its longest winning streak – four in a row – since the 2011 season,
The Monarchs, tied for No. 11 in the latest WVSSAC Class AAA ratings, can take a big step toward their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade if they can find a way to beat the Bruins (1-5). Coach Rick Goodrich’s team is coming off a 48-6 pounding of Warren, Ohio, in which it jumped to a 48-0 halftime lead on the strength of four more touchdowns from senior standout Dereck Hess.
“I didn’t feel like we played our best football last week,” Goodrich said. “We were a step slow and I wasn’t very happy. But we can’t get caught up in ourselves, we have to go out and play every week and continue to grow and work toward a postseason berth.
“Our focus has to be on getting better and taking this one game at a time to get to the next level. It is all about climbing the ladder, one rung at a time.
“But I am really not sure that we improved any last week.”
It wasn’t because of Hess. He has scored four touchdowns in four of the team’s seven games this season and has 22 total – 16 rushing, two receiving, two on interception returns, and one each on punts and kickoffs. Hess has gained 987 yards in roughly five games of action while sitting out the second half in blowout victories. Those numbers have thrown him into the Kennedy Award conversation.
“They probably have the best running back in the valley in Hess,” Brooke coach Mac McLean said. “They are very physical up front and they really know how to move the football.
“Coach Goodrich has done good things down there and they are gaining success from it. They have a lot of momentum, and playing them is not going to be an easy task, but we will make the trip and give it our all.
“A victory over them could be just the medicine we need to help springboard us toward next year.”
Jordan Wood is the Monarchs quarterback and has thrown for more than 700 yards and three touchdowns while Nick Coulter and Chas McCool are dual threats running the football and catching passes.
While John Marshall is scoring points in bunches, the going has been rougher for the Bruins, who have scored a total of 34 points in their five losses. Brooke was beaten at home last week by Parkersburg South, 28-7, in a game that was a lot closer than the score might indicate.
“Offense has been an ongoing problem for us all season,” McLean said. “But it isn’t because we don’t have opportunities. We were inside of South’s 30 four or five times last week without scoring a point.
“Ultimately, errors and turnovers seem to get us every single time.
“And that is something that we have to get turned around.”
The Bruins are led by junior quarterback Gage Yost and senior wide receiver Ethan Secrist, who has turned into one of the valley’s top receivers with 22 grabs for 422 yards and three scores. Yost threw for 88 yards last week, but did run for 111 and a score.
Brooke also has Dalton Valero and Max Camilletti coming out of the backfield.
“You hear coaches say it all the time, but they really are a much better team than their record indicates,” Goodrich said. “They play a very tough schedule and have done some very uncharacteristic things this season with turnovers and mistakes.
“But those kinds of things are correctable and if they find a way to play a clean game, they could be tough to stop.
“They are big and physical and they are truly the best team we will have faced in the last five week.”
Clay-Battelle at Class A No. 7 Cameron
CAMERON – This will be a battle with playoff positioning hanging in the balance. Clay-Battelle (5-1) sits 11th in the latest SSAC Class A ratings while the Dragons (5-1) check in at No. 9. The winner will take home a boatload of points.
Neither team, however, is guaranteed of anything at this point.
“We are actually still worried about getting into the playoffs,” Cameron coach Scott Holt admitted. “But this is a big one this week and could go a long way toward making that happen if we can get a win.
“It’s also big in the OVAC standings and for a possible home game. It’s one of those games that if you win you can point at as being a big factor, but if you lose you look back and think about what could have been.”
The Dragons are fresh off a 58-0 beating of Conotton Valley, Ohio, following their lone loss to Shenandoah. Cameron has scored 266 points and allowed 72, most of which have game against reserves.
Coach Ryan Wilson’s Cee-Bees found themselves trailing Paden City after a quarter last week before rolling off the final 32 points to get a victory.
“Coming into the season lack of experience was a big thing for us, but I really think if you look at the film from Game 1 to last week, you will see a lot of improvement,” Wilson said. “Even our seniors have gained experience.
“But there is no question that there is still plenty of room for improvement, even though we have played very well in our five wins. I know this is a big game, but last week was a big game for us and next week will be also.
“Another loss to any team could be very harmful, so each one is as big as the last one and the next one.”
Cameron is led by standout senior quarterback Colby Brown, who is closing in on the 1,000-yard passing plateau for the season. Brown has completed 43 of 75 tries for 963 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Andrew Ritchea is the team’s leading rusher with 447 yards and five scores, while Brown and Wyatt Wingrove each had a rushing touchdown last week. Travis Mickey leads the receiving corps, coming off a three catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Milliken and Trey Scott, who had four interceptions and returned two for scores a week ago, are also big in the passing game.
“Cameron is a good football team that is always very well-coached,” Wilson said. “They have athletes all over the place and they are the whole package. There is a lot of experience, size on the line and tall, quick kids at receiver.
“Their defense sometimes makes you wonder if there are 12 or 13 kids out there because they move so fast, and they also tackle very well.”
Clay-Battelle has a big-time playmaker of its own in senior running back Travis Dillie, who has rushed for 807 yards and nine touchdowns. Dillie ran for 206 yards and a pair of scores last week against the Wildcats.
Classmate Logan Forquer adds depth with 371 yards and five scores. Forquer also had two receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown last week. Sophomore Seth Casino threw for 122 yards and a score last week while Gunner Brummage is a nice target in the passing game.
“They are real similar in size and geography as us, and they have had some nice success in recent years,” Holt said. “And they like to go out and mix it up just like we do.
“Clay-Battelle runs the perimeter very well and they put a lot of kids in the box and put pressure on your defense. They are a good team and one that we are certainly worried about.”
As for how the season has played out thus far, Holt is happy with his team.
“I know we lost to Shenandoah, but I really think we are a better team for having played them,” Holt said. “Our first-team defense hasnát allowed very many touchdowns, which makes some of our scores a little deceiving with the points we have given up.
“Our kids have done everything that our coaching staff and the schedule has asked of them. I can see them quietly getting better and we have shown a lot of improvement. And I believe there is more to come.”
Cameron has won the last two games in the series, including last year’s 48-19 victory over the Cee-Bees. Clay-Battelle had won the previous nine before the Dragons’ current two-game streak.
Class A No. 8 Wheeling Central at Martins Ferry, Ohio
MARTINS FERRY, Ohio – A pair of teams battling for playoff spots in their respective states will lock horns when Wheeling Central (3-3) makes the short trip Friday night to take on Martins Ferry (4-3) at the Dave Bruney Sports Complex.
After starting 0-2, Coach Mike Youngás Maroon Knights have won 3 of 4 with the lone loss coming by eight points against Linsly. Bruneyás Purple Riders, who are 10th in Ohio Division V, Region 19, have won three in a row after dropping three of their first four.
Central, tied for 17th in this weekás Class A ratings, is coming off a hard-earned victory against Shadyside, while the Purple Riders went on the road and rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat Indian Creek.
“That was a huge win for us,” Young said. “For our kids, program and everyone involved, it was just huge.
“We’ve spent a lot of time working hard trying to get better and we still have a ways to go.
“We have to get ready for another big challenge.”
Martins Ferry’s recent success has been directly tied to its ability to limit turnovers. They didn’t have any last week in rallying past the Redskins.
“When we take care of the ball and limit our penalties, like any team, we have a great chance to win,” Bruney said. “I am also proud of how our kids have bought into the one-week-at-a-time mentality.
“We were able to do that at Indian Creek when in the second half we played as hard as we could, took care of the ball and good things happened.
“The kids are really practicing hard and it’s good to see it work out in their favor.”
Friday night is the first meeting of a four-year contract, which will see each of the tradition-laden programs hosting twice during of the course of the deal.
“If I didn’t think this was a good game for both schools and for football in the Ohio Valley, we wouldn’t be playing it,” Bruney said. “Mike and I have been friends for more than 45 years and we’ll absolutely be friends after this game.”
It’s the first meeting between the Purple Riders and Maroon Knights since 2010 when Central prevailed, 10-7.
“This is one of those games where there’s a lot of local interest,” Young said. “Obviously, it’s two programs that are rich in tradition and history who are right across the river from each other.
“I really think it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out kind of game and I know both fan bases will be fired up.”
The Maroon Knights’ focus is on bulldozing Ferry running back Dalton Hoover, who has run for 849 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught the winning TD last week from QB Jake Probst, who has completed 51 of 112 for 720 yards.
“Hoover is definitely a force for them, but they have other variables we need to lock in on, too,” Young said. “They’re throwing the ball better and they’re spreading it around.
“Their line and defense are also two big factors.”
Wheeling Central is led by sophomore quarterback Curtis McGhee III. He had 199 yards and three touchdown passes in the victory against Shadyside and is also the team’s leading rusher.
“This is a typical Mike Young-coached team,” Bruney said. “They’re good fundamentally and they play good defense. They have an ability to score from anywhere on the field because they have really good speed.”
Other OVAC Games:
Frontier, Ohio at Valley-Wetzel
Oak Glen at Harrison Central, Ohio
Linsly at River, Ohio
Weir at Warren, Ohio
Riverside at Morgantown
Magnolia at St. Marys
Paden City at Hannan
Tolsia at Tyler Consolidated
Buckhannon Upshur at University
Madonna at Van
Hancock, Md. at Hundred
Union Local at St. Clairsville