By Wes McKinney for WVMetroNews.com
Class AAA No. 11 Cabell Midland (5-4) at Class AA No. 1 Huntington (9-0)
Huntington is looking to complete its second undefeated season in the Billy Seals’ era and the first since 2013.
But, it won’t come easy as the Highlanders try to take back the The Shield from rival Cabell Midland.
“It’s a big time game with a big time atmosphere,” Seals said. “It’s two solid programs playing one another. It’ll be a tall task for our program.”
Cabell Midland has won the last two matchups including a 27-20 victory at home in 2016.
“I’ve been in it for eight years now and we’ve had some good matchups,” Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons said.
“In 2013, they were No. 1 and we were ranked high as well and it went to the wire. Last year, they were probably the favorite and we got a win. Huntington has had a great year. We respect them and they respect us. This is a great event for the kids because of the atmosphere they will get the opportunity to play in.”
The Highlanders have a chance to finish its perfect season because of a 50-0 shutout win over Woodrow Wilson last week, the second straight shutout for Huntington.
“I thought we ran the football well and threw the football well,” Seals said. “I thought Mike Dawson continued to get better. Luke (Zban) settled down and threw the ball well.
“We flanked Jadon (Hayes) out at receiver a little bit and got him some touches,” he continued. “We can do stuff like that when Chris Rogers is healthy. We feel good about Chris being in the backfield and placing Jadon out there.
Hayes continued his prowess by going over 100 yards receiving and rushing.
Meanwhile, Cabell Midland was limited to 28 points in a loss at Spring Valley. Isaiah Duncan was the leading rusher for the Knights as he needed just 12 carries to rack up 128 yards on the ground.
But don’t let the 5-4 record fool you, this is a powerful Cabell Midland team.
“Just because they are 5-4 it doesn’t mean anything,” Seals said. “We feel like they are a really solid football team. They’ve lost to some good opponents. I guarantee if you take the record of the schools that have beat them, they haven’t lost a whole lot of games. We don’t even look at records.”
Cabell Midland’s opponents are 59-33 this season, a winning percentage of .641.
And to stop the Knights’ offense that scores 43.2 points per game?
“You have to limit their big plays,” Seals said. “I think something they have this year is explosiveness which is something they maybe haven’t had in the past—they didn’t have three or four guys that can take it 80 yards, they had one.
“I think that makes them really good,” he continued. “Ivan Vaughn is a heck of a running back. Duncan is really good. The Light kid has given them a different dimension. It makes them a little more option oriented.”
But the Huntington offense isn’t too shabby themselves all led by Jadon Hayes. But his supporting cast includes Zban, Dawson and the return of Rogers.
“Just like a lot of teams we play, Huntington has a lot of weapons,” Salmons said.
“They present a lot of people for us to cover. I think last week against Spring Valley prepared us to face Huntington because Derek Johnson and others are really good. We need to tackle well on defense and make a few plays on defense.”
The environment at Bob Sang Stadium should be fun.
“This is the reason you get into coaching is to play in games like this,” Seals said.
“I think if you look at the past five or six years every game has been really close besides 2015. Our kids know one another. It makes for a fun rivalry, but an intense rivalry as well. I’d say it’s the best rivalry in the state in West Virginia.”
Class AA No. 2 Mingo Central (9-0) at Class AA No. 9 Winfield (7-2)
Jeremy Dillon accounted for seven total touchdowns as Mingo Central took care of Chapmanville 60-22 on the road.
“We played well and started fast on Friday night,” Mingo Central Joey Fields said referring to his team’s ability to outscore the Tigers 33-8 in the first half.
“I think we’re playing better this year in games eight and nine than we did last year. It all starts with our leaders. They are doing a good job of holding everyone accountable.”
The Miners close the regular season looking to wrap home field advantage throughout the postseason against a team looking to get one home playoff contest.
“We’re excited about playing a very good team on the road,” Fields said. “Winfield is a tough place to go play at. They are a big, physical team that can run and throw the ball. We’re preparing like this is a playoff game.”
Much like Chapmanville last week, the Generals are very multiple on offense.
“We match up with them really well on the perimeter,” Fields said. “They can beat you a couple of different ways. I’ve seen them grind out games this season and I’ve seen them throw the ball all over the field in other games. We’ll have to prepare for both styles.”
Heading into Friday night, Dawson Elia needs just 89 receiving yards to go over 500 yards. Elia has already gone over 1,000 yards rushing.
Greenbrier East (2-7) at Class AAA No. 4 Spring Valley (7-2)
Spring Valley had great balance in its rushing game as it totaled 360 rushing yards and its most points of the season, 56, as it doubled up Cabell Midland last week.
“When you play a really good team, you don’t think you’ll going to score that many points,” Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess said. “We’ve been playing pretty well offensively the last four weeks. I think we’ve gotten a lot of better and we’re continuing to get better each week.”
Graeson Malashevich spearheaded the rushing attack with 92 yards, but five difference Spring Valley players had at least 50 yards rushing in the impressive output.
What may standout more is the defensive effort from the Timberwolves.
“Once we figured it out on defense we played really well,” Dingess said. “We held Ivan Vaughn to 42 yards. I know we gave up 28 points, but to hold Cabell Midland to 28 is pretty good.”
With two very tough games behind it, Spring Valley can focus on sealing a top four seed in the playoffs.
“If we win, mathematically we’ll be a four seed which means we’ll have an opportunity to play the first two rounds at home,” Dingess said. “To advance in the playoffs, I think you have to play at home. There’s a lot riding on this game.”
Greenbrier East picked up its first win since Week 3 when it came back from a halftime deficit to beat Princeton, 27-19, last week at home.
Lincoln County (3-6) at Class A No. 4 Tug Valley (8-1)
Tug Valley will go for its ninth win of the season when plays host to Lincoln County. It will be the second time in four years TV has amassed nine wins in the regular season if it were to win.
The Panthers downed Man 27-14 to improve to 8-1. Additionally to a potential ninth win, Tug Valley could lock up two playoff home games.
Meanwhile, the Panthers of Lincoln County have experienced its most successful season since 2011 when they won four games.
Poca (2-7) at Class No. 5 Wayne (8-1)
Wayne has a chance to close the regular season as one of the hottest teams in Class AA if it were to beat Poca.
The Pioneers picked up its seventh straight win by posting a season-high 54 points in a 40-point victory over Logan last week.
Mikey Bartram needs 188 yards to go 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
A win over Poca would solidify at least one home playoff game for the Pioneers.
Wirt County (5-4) at Class A No. 10 Sherman (7-2)
Sherman locked up a second straight playoff berth with a shutout victory over River View, 48-0.
Now with the Tide firmly in the Class A playoffs, they will look to sneak into the top eight of the bracket and host a playoff game.
Sherman won with ease at Wirt County last season, 59-6.
Chapmanville (5-4) at Man (1-8)
Scott (3-6) at Nitro (2-7)
Logan (2-7) at Herbert Hoover (2-7)
Tolsia (2-7) at Class A No. 16 Williamstown (4-4)
Class No. 7 Cameron (8-1) at Hannan (2-7)