By Sean McNamara – Times West Virginian for WVMetroNews.com
We have reached the final week of the regular season for high school football in West Virginia, with several Eastern Panhandle teams having already punched their tickets to the postseason.
In Class AAA, Martinsburg, Musselman, Hedgesville and Spring Mills have all locked up their spots in the postseason. East Hardy has clinched a playoff spot in Class A, while Keyser currently holds the No. 16 spot in Class AA.
The Martinsburg Bulldogs concluded their 2017 regular season in Week 10 with a huge, 62-12, win over Musselman to improve to 10-0.
“I’m proud of you,” coach Dave Walker told his team on the field after the game. “10-0 hasn’t happened that many times … We’re not done yet.”
Quarterback Tyson Bagent ended the regular season 139-of-199 passing for 2,279 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions, with five more touchdowns on the ground. All this coming while he only played one compete game as a result of building early leads.
Bagent has spread the ball around to a variety of different receivers, with Jarod Bowie leading the team with 27 catches for 584 yards and seven scores. Right behind him is Chelo Teneval with 26 catches for 368 yards and six touchdowns.
On the ground, Dewayne Grantham carried the ball 72 times for a team-high 733 yards and 14 touchdowns while Mikey Jackson has a team-high 92 carries for 625 yards and 13 scores.
R.J. Barrett leads the Bulldogs defensively with 73 total tackles on the year. Jalen Hesen, Trey Henry and Tavis Lee have combined for 35 tackles-for-loss.
Martinsburg will likely enter the postseason as a No. 2 seed and host a .500 team in the playoffs, with homefield advantage throughout.
Martinsburg can move into the No. 1 seed if Huntington were to lose this week to Cabell Midland.
Following last week’s big win over No.1 South Harrison, East Hardy has taken over the top seed in Class A, and will have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if they win again this week.
East Hardy (9-0) at Petersburg (5-4), Friday
Any questions were answered last week as to who the top team in Class A should be heading into the postseason as East Hardy defeated then-No. 1 South Harrison 41-20.
The 1-2 matchup lived up to the hype, at least for the homestanding Cougars, as a large contingent of fans showed up for this one.
“We knew we had to grab some momentum early,” East Hardy coach Chad Williams said. “We love playing at home. Tonight made 23 in a row for us at home, so, obviously, we love being here.
“We wanted to grab that momentum early and get the crowd into it. It was probably one of the biggest crowds we’ve seen in Baker.”
Williams stressed to his team in importance of grabbing an early lead, and after first-quarter touchdowns by Clay Skovron and Philip Mullin, the Cougars seized momentum.
“We opened up the game, pinned them deep with a great kickoff over their head, and they started the game on their own 5 yard line after the opening kickoff,” Williams said. “(They went) three and out and we scored on our second offensive play.
“They got it back and got one first down, but still didn’t make it to midfield and punted. It took us six plays to score on that second drive.
“Obviously if you can get out to that kind of start – 14-0 on eight offensive plays – you’re feeling great about your chance.”
In the game, the Cougars combined to rush for 214 yards and pass for 146 yards while limiting South Harrison speedster Freddy Canary to just 73 yards on the ground.
Skovron led the East Hardy rushing attack with 179 yards on 17 carries while tossing eight of his 17 passes to Brett Tharp, who had 110 yards receiving.
This week’s opponent is Class AA Petersburg, which is looking took end the season over .500.
In last week’s 20-14 win over Tucker County, Petersburg Jacob Hartman ran for an 18-yard touchdown and threw a 40- yard touchdown to Peyton Sindledecker while Zach Wampler ran for a 95-yard touchdown.
On the season, Hartman has put together an impressive resume, passing for 1,727 yards and 18 touchdowns while running for 768 yards and 12 touchdowns.
A win for the Cougars would clinch East Hardy a 10-0 regular season, but Williams knows this week won’t be a walk in the park.
“That was the goal all along,” Williams said of the undefeated season. “We knew the schedule this year was going to be a little bit tougher than it had been in past years, and now we’re sitting at one game away.
“Petersburg has a pretty nice ball club, and we’re going to be their Super Bowl. They’d do anything in the world to beat us.”
Hedgesville (6-3) at Spring Mills (5-4), Friday
The Spring Mills Cardinals earned a much-needed win in Week 10, going on the road to defeat North Hagerstown, 19-7.
In the win, Daquan May and Trent Kerns each scored touchdowns while Hunter Ketchens added two field goals. May rushed for 103 of the Cardinals’ 291 yards in the win.
Hedgesville comes into this week’s contest with fresh legs following a bye week.
With a little help, a win could move Hedgesville, which is tied for ninth in Class AAA, up in the playoff rankings and potentially give the Eagles a chance to host a playoff game.
Preston (2-7) at Musselman (7-2), Friday
The Musselman Applemen come into Week 11 boasting a 7-2 overall record after a loss at the hands of Martinsburg last Friday.
In the loss, Jacob Northcraft ran the ball effectively against the Bulldogs’ defense, carrying the ball 23 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. That brings his season total to 198 carries for 1,364 yards.
His teammate, Jacob Hartman, ran for 35 yards in the game, giving him 1,017 on the year.
This week’s opponent is Preston, which is coming off a Week 10 win over Buckhannon-Upshur for its second victory of the year.
The Knights are led by quarterback Dakota Holt, who has completed 38-of-102 passes for 565 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. He also leads the team with 105 rushing attempts for 455 yards and seven touchdowns.
Mountain Ridge, Maryland, at Keyser (6-3), Friday
One week after being shut out on the road at Bridgeport, the Keyser Golden Tornado put another notch in the win column with a 41-0 Mineral Bowl victory over Frankfort.
Keyser currently holds the final spot in Class AA, one spot ahead of PikeView and two spots ahead of Sissonville.
Mountain Ridge is 4-5 overall this season, and 3-2 against opponents from West Virginia.
Jefferson (0-9) at Washington (2-7)
Hancock, Maryland, at Berkeley Springs (5-4), Friday
Hampshire (2-7) at Frankfort (1-8), Friday
Moorefield (0-9) at Magnolia (3-6), Friday