— By Wes McKinney



No. 3 Huntington (6-0) at No. 5 Capital (5-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: While Capital was on its bye week, Ta’ Blackwell accounted for four touchdowns as Huntington pulled away from Hurricane for a 34-21 win to remain undefeated. 

“He’s playing really well, throwing the football really well,” Huntington coach Billy Seals said of his first-year quarterback. “He’s controlling the offense. He’s definitely a threat to run. He gives us a little something we haven’t had in years in a dual-threat quarterback.” 

Why It’s Important: A win would keep Huntington in the hunt for home field advantage throughout the postseason. Last season, the Highlanders edged Capital 24-21 at home for its first win over the Cougars since the 2013 season. 

“We definitely have to limit Capital’s possessions,” Seals said. “If you give them the ball 10 times, you’re going to be in trouble. But we’re not going to change for anybody. We’re going to do what we do and hopefully we execute a little better.”

Players to Watch for Huntington: Seals is eager to see how Blackwell performs against a team the caliber of Capital. 

“It makes it tough on the defense when you have a guy that can pull it and run with it. But, he’s also doing a nice job of throwing the ball. He’s putting it where it needs to be and his receivers are catching the ball for him.” 

Players to Watch for Capital: The Cougars are led by future West Virginia Mountaineer Kerry Martin, who was held to just 102 yards of total offense against Spring Valley two weeks ago in Capital’s lone loss of the season. That hardly seems to matter with Seals’ opinion on Martin. 

“Kerry Martin is an exceptional athlete,” Seals said. “It seems like he’s been there 10 years as their quarterback. He’s got command of the offense. He’s going to make plays that 99 percent of the kids in this state can’t make.”

Woodrow Wilson (2-4) at No. 13 Cabell Midland (3-4)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: Cabell Midland nearly pulled off an improbable fourth-quarter comeback as it trailed by 22 at one point against Belfry, before falling to the Kentucky powerhouse, 36-28. 

“Our kids battled back and fought against a tough team,” Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmosn said. “It didn’t go our way. I thought we played well on offense. Rushing for nearly 400 yards on Belfry is hard to do.”

Why It’s Important: The Knights are going to be making their first appearance at home since week three against Spring Valley. In fact, this week starts a stretch of three straight home games to finish the season for the Knights. 

“It’s great to be home,” Salmons said. “We haven’t been at home since week three — it’s a long time. It’s good to be home the last three games. You could tell the kids’ morale is a little higher right now.”

Players to Watch for Woodrow Wilson: Salmons likes the Woodrow Willson offensive line that is led by junior Ian Pomeroy. 

“I like the way that kid plays,” Salmons said. “He’s a good player on the offensive line.”

Players to Watch for Cabell Midland: Jakob Caudill has carved out back-to-back solid performances to help compliment the Cabell Midland ground game along with Ivan Vaughn. 

St. Albans (1-5) at No. 1 Spring Valley (7-0)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: Spring Valley breezed by Riverside as it jumped out to an early lead versus the Warriors in a 42-21 win. The first score of the game was a punt return touchdown from Graeson Malashevich. 

“We’ve been concentrating on special teams the last couple of weeks,” Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess admitted. “Special teams can make game-changing plays. It seems like momentum changes and big swings happen on special teams. It was good to see Graeson return one. We blocked it pretty well and it changed that game pretty quick.” 

Why It’s Important: The Timberwolves are looking to get into their bye week with an 8-0 record. Spring Valley finishes the season with Point Pleasant and Huntington. 

“We want to play well,” Dingess said. “We’ve been preaching that to our kids. Our first string guys only played 15 plays on Friday night. We want to get through the St. Albans gam undefeated, stay healthy and get into the bye week so we can work on some things.” 

Players to Watch for St. Albans: The youth for St. Albans has played a factor in the 1-5 start for the Red Dragons. 

“They are trying to find themselves with a new coach,” Dingess said. “They have hard-nosed kids that get after it and they don’t quit.”

Players to Watch for Spring Valley: Malashevich’s punt return touchdown versus Riverside was just one of three ways the do-it-all running back contributed to scores for the Timberwolves as he caught a touchdown before throwing a touchdown later in the first half. 

“That kid can do anything,” Dingess said. “If you look up what a utility kid is, he’s the definition of that.”


Chapmanville (4-2) at Wayne (4-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: Both teams are coming off wins against Herbert Hoover. Wayne defeated the Huskies last week by a score of 56-28. Chapmanville took down the Huskies two weeks ago before its bye week, 46-13. 

“Anytime you’re able to go into a bye week with a good feeling in the middle of the season, I’m real happy with our guys’ performance against Herbert Hoover,” Chapmanville head coach Rob Dial said. “We played really good football for the first 18 minutes of the game.”

Why It’s Important: The Tigers and Pioneers enter the week tied for No. 18 in the WVSSAC Class AA playoff ratings. They have more in common than that — both teams have won four consecutive games after 0-2 starts to the season. 

“They are in a very similar situation to us,” Wayne head coach Tom Harmon said. “Both teams are working on trying to get into the playoffs, first, then working on a decent seed from there. They do a lot of things well. We’ve butted heads with them in the last three or four years that have come right down to the wire, so this can go either way.” 

Like Harmon, Dial knows the urgency and importance of this game in Week 8 of the season. 

“We have four tough games at the end of the season against four local teams that many would say are rivalry games. These games are big because of the log jam in Class AA,” he explained. “Years ago, six wins would get you into the playoffs. Now, I’m not even sure seven wins will get you in the playoffs. Every team in the top 20 or 22 of Class AA is looking at the standings thinking they have a shot. Whoever wins this game on Friday night is going to be a much nicer situation than the loser.”

Players to Watch for Chapmanville: While Chapmanville has relied more on the run this season than in its recent history, Harmon warns of the Tigers’ ability to still pass the football, so quarterback Chase Berry could figure big in this one. 

“They haven’t forgot how to throw the ball,” Harmon said. “They started running the ball more last year and had a lot of success with it. Anytime you play a team that’s balanced, you have to pick and choose which one you shut down. Hopefully, we can make them be one dimensional.”

Players to Watch for Wayne: Recently, Gunner Harmon has been receiving most of the attention from the quarterback position, but Isaac Dean has been a difference maker for the Pioneers all season. Dean has scored touchdowns on the ground, through the air, on special teams and on defense. 

“I’ve called him the playmaker since he was six-years old,” Harmon said. “He’s made a habit of being able to make something out of nothing. We’re fortunate to get him the ball in the open field.”

No. 6 Point Pleasant (5-0) at Meigs, Ohio

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: All the way back in Week 5 of the season, Point Pleasant outlasted Pikeville, Kentucky 41-34 before back-to-back bye weeks. 

“It was a great high school football game,” Point Pleasant head coach David Darst said. “Pikeville has a great football down there. We made plays when we had to make them.” For the second time in five games, Big Blacks quarterback Cason Payne led a late-game drive before the Point Pleasant got a stop to secure the win. “I was proud of our defense at the end of the game,” Darst said. “They stood their ground and got us the win. I’m sure the fans enjoyed it, but it was stressful on the coaches.”

Why It’s Important: This will be the first time in three weeks Point Pleasant sees live action. While some might think it causes a team to be rusty, Darst and his staff have used the time wisely. 

“I enjoy having two weeks off in the middle of the season,” Darst said. “We’re able to tweak things and put some new plays in.”

Players to Watch for Point Pleasant: A young Point Pleasant offense has allowed less than 20 points per game this season and will once again face a tough test against its border rival in Ohio. 

Players to Watch for Meigs: “They have a really nice offense,” Darst said. “They are very capable on that side of the ball.” 

Meigs head coach and former NFL tight end Mike Bartrum guides the program and has both of his sons playing on the offensive side of the ball.  

Scott (1-5) at No. 12 Mingo Central (4-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: Mingo Central raced by Nitro last week as it put up a season-high 65 points in a 65-26 win over the Wildcats. Quarterback Daylin Goad threw for nearly 250 yards while running back Dougie Dillon went over 100 yards rushing and wide receiver Drew Hatfield caught passes for over 100 yards. Scott just missed a chance to pick up its second win of the season as it fell to Logan, 30-27. 

Why It’s Important: This particular stretch of games for the Miners is a chance for Mingo Central to pick up some momentum and move up the Class AA ratings. The Miners are in the middle of a three-game stretch where they play teams with just one win on the season. Next week, Mingo Central faces Herbert Hoover. For Scott, this is a chance for the Skyhawks to play spoiler. 

Players to Watch for Mingo Central: With as much as Goad has been a dual threat quarterback in replacing Jeremy Dillon this season, Dillon has balanced the Miners offense with his recent performances.


No. 1 Mount View (6-0) at Tug Valley (3-3)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. 

Last Week: Tug Valley is coming off a 27-14 loss against Van that put the Panthers on the outside of the playoff picture in Class A. 

Why It’s Important: After this tough matchup against Mount View, Tug Valley has three very winnable, but getting past the Golden Knights won’t be an easy task. However, Mount View used a second-half touchdown to sneak by Tolsia, 6-0, at home last week. Entering the game slotted 21st in the Class A playoff ratings, this game represents a chance for Tug Valley to vault itself back in the thick of the playoff race or squarely put its backs against the wall. 

Players to Watch for Mount View: Tug Valley will be tasked with trying to slow down a Mount View attack that was limited by Tolsia last week. Running back Elijah Barner has spearheaded the ground game for the Golden Knights. 

Players to Watch for Tug Valley: The Panthers offense will look to get back on track and being held to just 34 points in the last two games. 

Other Games: Tyler Consolidated (3-3) at Tolsia (4-3); Man (3-3) at Wyoming East (2-5); South Harrison (1-5) at Sherman (5-1); Van (5-1) at Madonna (3-3); Lincoln County (4-2) at Clay County (5-1); Hannan (0-5) at Montcalm (0-6)