— By Eric Little
A mammoth rivalry game comes full of playoff implications, plus some of the area’s small schools are still fighting to get into the postseason.
No. 5 Parkersburg South (7-2) at No. 10 Parkersburg (5-4)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Parkersburg South picked up its sixth straight win — a 30-0 victory over Wheeling Park that allowed South to lock up a first round playoff home game. It’ll be their first in more than a decade. The win was also South’s third shutout of the season. Parkersburg fell to Huntington 27-21 on the road in overtime. The loss snapped Parkersburg’s four-game winning streak.
Why It’s Important: Because it’s the biggest high school football rivalry in the state. And with playoff implications for both sides, it’ll be one of the more highly-anticipated editions in recent memory. South, in particular, is also playing for their highest single-season win total under sixth-year head coach Mike Eddy. Parkersburg is trying to earn a second straight first-round home game under second-year head coach Mike Byus.
Who to Watch for Parkersburg South: Nick Yoho has accounted for nearly half of Parkersburg South’s 305 points this season with 23 touchdowns. (18 rushing, four receiving and one on an interception return). Yoho’s 126 rushing yards last week against Wheeling Park pushed him past the 1,000-yard threshold for the season.
Defensively, the line has been a strong point for the Patriots, as South has sacked the quarterback 16 times this year. They’re led by Dalton Fullerton (4 sacks), Kaleb Richards and Zach Doughty (3 sacks each). Doughty is also the team’s leading tackler. The secondary is also a team strength, with ten interceptions from seven different players. Last week, Brett Hearn intercepted his second pass of the season and returned it for South’s fourth pick-six of the year.
All told, the Patriots have outscored opponents 135-44 in the second half this season and the defense hasn’t allowed a single point in the first quarter all year. South is also outscoring opponents 255-28 during their six-game winning streak.
Who to Watch for Parkersburg: When in doubt, look toward Division I talent, and Penn State commit Brenton Strange has the skill, size and strength to take over a game at any time. Last week in Parkersburg’s overtime loss to Huntington, Strange caught seven balls for 70 yards.
Quarterback Jake Johnson has also been a rock under center for the Big Reds this year. He threw two touchdown passes against the Highlanders last week, but will be looking to shake off a season-high three interceptions.
Kionte Peacock has also anchored a Big Reds secondary with six interceptions this year. A takeaway or two would be huge for Parkersburg, going against a South team that’s won the turnover battle by a combined 11-1 in their last four games and hasn’t turned it over in any of their last three contests.
Looking for an under-the-radar threat? How about Braden Mason? His five catches went for 102 yards last week against Huntington. And with Strange and Dylan Shaver battling injury issues earlier in the season, Mason was one of the guys that stepped up and kept things going for the Parkersburg offense.
Calhoun County (1-8) at No. 14 Ritchie County (6-3)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last Week: Ritchie County routed Gilmer County 46-0. Four different Rebel running backs scored touchdowns. Calhoun County fell 30-0 at home against Meadow Bridge — the second time the Red Devils have been shutout this season and the sixth time they’ve been held to fewer than ten points this year.
Why It’s Important: Ritchie County needs to win and get some help to get into the playoffs. For Calhoun County, this is tantamount to a bowl game. They’re playing for pride and for the thrill of being a spoiler.
Who to Watch for Ritchie County: In his second game back from a knee injury, Tre Moss broke out in a big way for the Rebels in their win against Gilmer County. Moss carried 22 times for 188 yards and a touchdown. Cody Wayne also was 6-8 passing for Ritchie County, connecting with tight end Tatem McCloy on a 25-yard scoring strike.
Who to Watch for Calhoun County: Quarterback Adam Parsons has a big arm, but the Red Devils will need to rally following their weakest offensive performance of the year. Calhoun was held to just two first downs and 58 total yards of offense in their loss last week to Meadow Bridge.
St. Marys (3-6) at Tyler Consolidated (5-4)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last Week: Tyler Consolidated edged Valley Wetzel 26-24 to stay alive in the postseason race. St. Marys fell 31-13 on Senior Night against Ravenswood.
Why It’s Important: Tyler Consolidated needs a win and some help for the playoffs to be a reality this season. St. Marys would like to cap a difficult season with a win against a next-door neighbor.
Who to Watch for Tyler Consolidated: Mark Rucker ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns against the Lumberjacks, including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter. Griffin Phillips also returned a kick 70 yards for a touchdown last week and has been a solid threat at quarterback all season for the Silver Knights.
Who to Watch for St. Marys: Anthony Wince made a Senior Night memory for the Blue Devils. Wince connected with quarterback Brennan Boron on a 64-yard touchdown pass play. All told, Wince caught four passes for 102 yards in the loss to Ravenswood.
CLASS AAA VS. CLASS A
Class AAA No. 7 Ripley (8-1) at Ravenswood (3-6)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Ripley downed Roane County 41-6 for their eighth straight win. Ravenswood snapped a six-game losing skid with a 31-13 win over St. Marys.
Why It’s Important: Because it’s another big rivalry game. It’s also a chance for Ripley to finish off a banner year with a nine-game winning streak and head into the playoffs on a strong note. And believe it or not, at 3-6, Ravenswood isn’t eliminated yet – according to the online pundits – and with an upset win and appropriate help, could find their way into the postseason.
Who to Watch for Ripley: Jeremy Harper scored on two of his 16 carries last week against Roane County. All told, Harper rushed for 150 yards in the Viking win. Five different Vikings scored rushing touchdowns in the contest.
Who to Watch for Ravenswood: Max Hilton ran for three touchdowns in Ravenswood’s first win since August, while Jacob Anthony led the Red Devil rushing attack with 119 yards on 17 carries against St. Marys.
Other games: Paden City (2-7) at Valley Wetzel (2-7); Roane County (3-6) at Midland Trail (9-0); Buffalo (2-7) at Wahama (1-8); Wirt County (1-8) at Clay County (5-4)