When the 2017 high school football season kicked off on Thursday night, August 24th, we had the good fortune of looking ahead to a possible 1,160 games! As we look ahead to this final weekend of regular season play for this year, we are down to just 52 games! Is that even possible? I mean, where did this football season go and how did it pass so quickly?
Of the 116 schools that play high school football in our fine state, 14 will have week #11 to either heal the normal bumps and bruises before the playoffs begin the weekend of November 3, or they will use the time to put the equipment away and reminisce about the games won and those that got away! Of those 14, there are 9 teams that will be concentrating on the healing part and 5 that will be concentrating on stowing the equipment away! Martinsburg, University and Morgantown in Class AAA are moving on to the playoffs…..Bluefield, James Monroe, Point Pleasant, Pikeview and Weir in Class AA are guaranteed at least one more game and in Class A, the only team that has wrapped up the regular season and is guaranteed another week of action is Midland Trail!
Now I know you are looking at some of the records of the above nine teams that have been guaranteed a playoff berth, so let’s break them down. Of those 9, we have 3 teams that are boasting 10-0 records – Martinsburg, University and Bluefield. We have just one team standing at 9-1 and that is Midland Trail from Class A. James Monroe and Point Pleasant are both 8-2, and Pikeview and Weir stand alone at 7-3. The record for the ninth team guaranteed a playoff berth is 4-6 and that belongs to Morgantown. What?? How?? Seriously?? The answer to all those questions is yes…..and the reasons why are many. First of all, give credit to Morgantown for playing a very tough schedule that, in spite of winning just 4 out of 10 games, the teams they defeated were good, solid teams that gave them the necessary bonus points to make the field of 16. And, you also have to look at the fact there are only 29 teams in the Class AAA bracket and when 55% of that number is guaranteed a playoff spot, then there will be years when a team with a losing record makes the playoffs. Now to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this has happened since the SSAC started the 16 team playoff field back in 1991. And, that’s not all! With 14 of the 29 teams in Class AAA already having suffered at least 6 losses this season, there is a possibility we will have two teams with a losing record in the playoff field! Again, don’t blame the team(s) that make the playoff field with a losing record……they have to play the schedule that is in front of them and as mentioned before, give them credit for playing a tough schedule. Certainly this scenario will only arise in the big schools division. In Class AA, we have 44 teams that play high school football, however only 43 are eligible for the playoffs. Lincoln County did not have the required number of opponents in their class or higher to qualify this year. In Class A, we have 43 teams that play football and in both classes, teams with 6 losses will not be close to making the playoff field. In fact, in Class AA, of the 10 teams that have clinched a playoff spot, only one of those teams have as many as 3 losses. In Class A, seven teams have clinched a playoff berth and none of those teams have more than 1 loss! By the way, special thanks to our good friends at WTOV9.COM for all of the playoff numbers!
Now, as mentioned earlier, we do have 52 games scheduled to be played this weekend and of those 52 we should have some great match-ups! In Class AAA, #1 Huntington (9-0) will entertain county rival Cabell Midland and even though the Knights (5-4) are coming off a disheartening 58-26 loss last Friday night to a very good Spring Valley team (7-2), Huntington High Head Coach Billy Seals knows his Highlanders will have to bring their “A game” if they want to finish the season unbeaten. It is always a great game when those two foes get together. Also in Class AAA, Capital (6-3) will travel to (5-4) George Washington, Wheeling Park (5-4) will be at John Marshall (7-2) and Hedgesville (6-3) will travel to Spring Mills (5-4). Now all eight of those teams mentioned in the above four games have clinched playoff spots. However, if you want to take in a really big game this Friday night, travel to Putnam County as (4-5) St. Albans will tangle with the (5-4) Hurricane Redskins! Now, Hurricane has clinched a playoff spot, however a win for Scott Tinsley and his Red Dragons would mean the young men from Kanawha County would make the playoff field for the first time since 2007 when they lost 22-15 to Parkersburg!
In Class AA this weekend, Lincoln (6-3) will be looking to secure a playoff spot as they travel to once beaten Bridgeport (8-1)……Robert C. Byrd (6-3) will be at Philip Barbour (7-2) and both are in control of their playoff chances……and of course there is that great rival game scheduled for East-West Stadium as Fairmont Senior (8-1) meets up with East Fairmont (1-8).
In Class A, a lot of the teams in the top tier of the small schools divisions will be taking on teams in Class AA, as East Hardy (9-0) will travel to Petersburg (5-4) – South Harrison (8-1) will be at Liberty Harrison (8-1) – Webster County (8-1) will travel to Clay County (6-3) and Richwood (6-3) will make the trip to Summersville to take on county rival Nicholas County (7-2)!
Regardless of the game you watch this Friday night, please be sure and tune in GAMENIGHT after your game is completed! We will have all of the scores plus interviews with coaches and players as we wrap up the regular season and get ready for the first round of the 2017 playoffs. If you can’t find the program on a local radio station in your area, tune in the audio and video of the show at wvmetronews.com!