By Fred Persinger II for WVMetroNews.com
No. 15 Braxton County (7-3) at No. 2 Bluefield (10-0)
The Bluefield Beavers had been in the No. 1 spot in Class AA for a majority of the season, but were jumped in the final regular season week by defending state champion Mingo Central.
The Beavers have dominated just about every opponent this season, with the closest game coming against rival Graham 17-14.
Bluefield faced three Class AAA opponents this year, outscoring them 161-20. On the season, Bluefield has averaged 47 points per game, putting up over 40 points eight times and more than 60 points three times. Defensively, Bluefield is giving up an average of just 10 points per game.
The Braxton County comes into the first round of the playoffs winning four of its last five games — but had a 34-27 setback to Sissonville in the regular season finale.
Five of Braxton County’s 10 games this year have been decided by seven points or less — the Eagles won three of those matchups. Braxton County also went 1-2 against playoff teams during the regular season, beating Nicholas County and falling to Sissonville and Liberty Harrison.
Bluefield and Braxton County did not play any common opponents during the season. Kickoff from Mitchell Stadium is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
No. 11 Winfield (7-3) at No. 6 James Monroe (8-2)
What could be one of the best games of the opening round will take place in Lindside on Friday night. James Monroe has had another good season, winning eight games and getting home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
These two teams played last year in the first round of the playoffs as same seeds. Both teams finished their regular season with a loss as James Monroe fell to Bluefield and Winfield lost to Mingo Central.
James Monroe started the season with a win over Class AAA Greenbrier East then suffered their first loss of the season against another playoff team in Point Pleasant. The Mavericks then won seven straight games. Before losing to Bluefield 41-7 to close out the season, the Mavericks scored over 45 points in the three games prior to that loss.
James Monroe has faced three other playoff teams and was 1-2 in those games — losing to Point Pleasant and Bluefield, while defeating Nicholas County 28-26.
For Winfield, the Generals are coming into the game having won five of their last six, scoring over 45 points in eight games this season and more than 60 twice.
The defense has played well at times, but gave up 31 points to Class AAA Hurricane, 46 points to Wayne and 56 to Mingo Central — all three of those teams are in the playoffs. Winfield is 1-3 against playoff teams, defeating Sissonville 46-14.
Winfield will travel to Lindside to take on James Monroe Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
No. 9 Nicholas County (8-2) at No. 8 Liberty Harrison (8-2)
Another good contest in Class AA will be the 8-9 matchup as Nicholas County battles Liberty Harrison. Both teams come in with a 8-2 record, but have been going in different directions.
Nicholas County has won four in a row, while Liberty has lost two of its last three.
The Grizzlies started the season 4-0 before losing to two playoff teams in James Monroe and Braxton County. Nicholas County lost both of those games by a combined 10 points.
Offensively, Nicholas County has scored at least 20 points in every game this season. The Grizzlies have played four playoff teams, going 2-2 against those opponents with wins over Richwood and Midland Trail and those losses to James Monroe and Braxton County.
Liberty Harrison started out the year 7-0, but had a couple of blowout losses down the stretch to Robert C. Byrd (48-14) and South Harrison (54-7).
These two teams have played two common opponents as Nicholas County lost to Braxton County and defeated Roane County, while Liberty defeated both Roane County and Braxton County.
Game time is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
These two teams met in the regular season as Summers County handed Webster County its only loss, 28-22 back on September 22.
It’s been an up and down season for the Bobcats, going 3-2 through the first five games and 3-2 through the final five games.
The Bobcats haven’t won more than two games in a row all year. Summers County played four playoff teams during the regular season, going 3-1 in those matchups.
Webster County has won five games in a row coming into the playoffs and overall is 1-1 against playoff teams. The Highlanders have scored at least 25 points in nine of their 10 games.
Kickoff Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m.
No. 14 Fayetteville (6-4) at No. 3 Midland Trail (9-1)
It’s the battle of the bridge — part two — as Fayetteville takes on Midland Trail. In the first meeting, Midland Trail controlled the game for a 47-6 win. It’s been a great season for the Patriots with their only loss coming to Class AA playoff team Nicholas County 34-29.
Midland Trail has scored over 20 points in every game this season and more than 40 points five times. The Patriots have played three playoff teams, going 2-1 against those opponents.
Fayetteville started the season very strong, but has struggled the second half of the season. Fayetteville started the season 5-0, but has since lost four of five. The Pirates have played three playoff teams, going 1-2 against those teams.
These two teams played five common opponents with wins over Valley Fayette, Richwood, Meadow Bridge, Oak Hill and Greenbrier West.
Kickoff Saturday is set for 1:30 p.m.
No. 15 Richwood (6-4) at No. 2 South Harrison (9-1)
Richwood came into 2017 having lost 19 games in a row. After falling in Week 1, the Lumberjacks went on to win 6 of 9 to land a spot in the playoffs.
Richwood has won three of its last four games, but is coming off of a loss to rival Nicholas County 42-7. Six of Richwood’s 10 opponents are in the playoffs as the Lumberjacks went 2-4 in those games.
South Harrison’s lone loss came to No. 1 East Hardy 41-20 as the Hawks have scored at least 40 points in eight games this year.
South Harrison and Richwood will play at Robert C Byrd High School Friday night at 7:30 p.m.