— By Wes McKinney

GAMES TO WATCH

CLASS AAA

No. 8 Parkersburg (1-0) at No. 6 Cabell Midland (1-0)

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Cabell Midland rolled by St. Albans, 56-13, to open the season 1-0. 

“St. Albans was a better team than they were last year,” Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons said. “But, I thought our kids were physical and aggressive. We made some week one mistakes, but we made up for that by playing hard.”

Meanwhile, Parkersburg withstood a late Morgantown charge to hang on for a 27-21 win at Stadium Field. 

Why It’s Important: Both teams could be in the hunt for a home playoff game come November and a 2-0 start would go a long way in helping to secure such a game in the rugged MSAC. 

Who to Watch for Parkersburg: Bryson Singer was impressive in his debut for the Big Reds under center and he will look to continue the momentum against the stingy Cabell Midland defense. 

“Parkersburg does a really good job of getting their best players the ball,” Salmons said. “The quarterback can make plays outside of the pocket. Eddie Mason and Joseph Martin are both good players (at receiver).”

Who to Watch for Cabell Midland: JJ Roberts had 91 rushing yards on just six carries as the Knights had 360 rushing yards as a team in the win over the Red Dragons. 

No. 2 Spring Valley (1-0) at No. 10 Hurricane (1-0)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Spring Valley pitched a shutout for the second time in four games, going to back to the Class AAA Quarterfinals in 2018, as it blanked Wayne 38-0, to open the season. The Timberwolves held the Pioneers to 38 yards of offense, and Wayne didn’t get on the plus side of yardage until the fourth quarter. 

“Our defense played really well,” Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess said. “That allowed us to take some chances and work on some stuff.”

Hurricane also made a statement by topping 500 yards of offense in a 55-20 win over Winfield to begin the season 1-0. 

Why It’s Important: For as dominant as the Timberwolves have been recently, Dingess and his program hasn’t enjoyed a win at Hurricane since the 2009 season. And the 2017 loss at Redskin Stadium, 41-21, was a turning point for Spring Valley in that particular season.

“For playoff implications and anything down the line, it’s a huge game, huge game for both of us,” Dingess said. 

“The conference seems to be wide open this year. There’s some teams at the top, probably six teams that beat anybody on any given night. If you want to try to make a deep playoff run, this is a game you want to win.”

Who to Watch for Spring Valley: Luke Christopher and Nate Ellis combined for 195 rushing yards on just 17 carries while David Livingston added two touchdowns in the rout of Wayne. 

“I thought Nate played really well,” Dingess said. 

“He rushed for almost 100 yards and threw two touchdowns. He had a couple of touchdowns get called back too. It didn’t look like a normal Spring Valley team. We spread it out and did some different things.” 

Who to Watch for Hurricane:  The Redskins possess the backfield of quarterback Austin Womack and running back Christian Hill while Womack has a supporting cast on the outside with a plethora of receivers to throw to. 

“They have a great quarterback and one of the best running back in the state, so it’s a tall task to have to play them on the road,” Dingess said.

Riverside (1-0) at No. 3 Huntington 

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Huntington was one of two Class AAA teams — the other Princeton — to have a week one bye. 

“It was the longest preseason I’ve ever been apart of,” Huntington head coach Billy Seals joked. “Everyone is playing last week and has a game under their belt.” 

And with the bye week, Seals took the opportunity to go watch Riverside’s statement 38-8 win over Woodrow Wilson on the road. 

“I was at the game Friday night and I thought their offense played well,” Seals said. “I thought their running backs were very good. They run really, really hard.”

Riverside running back Caden Easterling had 255 yards rushing and three touchdowns. 

Why It’s Important: Huntington will hit the road for two straight games after hosting the Warriors on Friday. This game also serves as a chance to Seals see some of the talent that has stepped in for the departed senior class. 

“We lot a tremendous amount of talent last year from our senior class,” Seals said. “Five of those guys are playing college football with two at the Division I level.

“We’ve told our guys to not be any of those guys — just be yourself,” he continued. “We do have the next man up mentality. We prepare all of our kids to be ready to play on Friday night.”

Who to Watch for Riverside: Easterling isn’t the only threat to run out of the backfield for Riverside. Quarterback Javante Elzy ran for 107 yards including a touchdown going for 84 yards in the win at Woodrow Wilson. 

“The quarterback is an athlete and if he gets out in space, I’m not sure if we have anyone that can catch him,” Seals said. 

“They are running a lot of mid line inside, outside veer. Anytime you have a quarterback with the athletic ability that they have, it puts pressure on the defense to make sure that all guys are accounted for in the option game.”

Who to Watch for Huntington: Even though Huntington has to replace Darnell Wright among other players lost to the college ranks, two players Seals is counting on this year is Brocton Blair, who will see an added role on offense, and Diallo Mitchell. 

“We think Diallo is going to have a big year on both sides of the ball,” Seals explained. “Brocton Blair is going to play in the backfield some. He played the B-back position in the playoffs and had a good night against Cabell Midland.”

CLASS AA

Wayne (0-1) at No. 7 Mingo Central (0-1)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Both Wayne and Mingo Central were humbled as the Pioneers were shutout at home by Spring Valley. Mingo Central was only able to score once in a 47-7 defeat at Pikeville, Kentucky on Saturday night. 

“We didn’t do a very good job of controlling what we could control,” Wayne head coach Tom Harmon said. “We probably had 10 or 12 mental mistakes on both sides of the ball.”

Why It’s Important: Wayne is trying to avoid starting 0-2 for a second straight year. The Pioneers dropped the season opener to Spring Valley in 2018 before losing on a late drive by Mingo Central and quarterback Daylin Goad in a 29-24 Miners’ win. 

Mingo Central doesn’t want to disappoint in its home opener. The Miners are also in danger of starting 0-2 in a jam-packed Class AA field. 

“We have a lot to play for,” Harmon said. 

“It’s a Cardinal Conference game with traditionally two of the best teams in the conference. It’s also a game with possible playoffs down the road—trying to win enough games to get in the postseason.”

Who to Watch for Wayne: Ethan Bowens was a workhorse in the Spring Valley game as he carried the ball 18 times. 

Who to Watch for Mingo Central: Goad spearheads the Mingo Central attack, but Harmon warns of the Miners’ running game. 

“Mingo Central wants to throw the ball more, but they are also going to run it,” Harmon said. “Good teams tend to take away things that you do well. Sometimes your best game plan is plan B.”

Chapmanville (0-1) at No. 5 Poca (1-0)

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Chapmanville lost a 24-8 decision against Sissonville at Laidley Field Thursday night. Meanwhile, Poca jumped out early on Nitro and went on to win 40-28 to open the season. 

Why It’s Important: Chapmanville head coach Rob Dial spoke last week of the importance of getting out to a good start based on the number of good teams in Class AA. The Tigers won’t want to fall any further behind the pack. 

Who to Watch for Chapmanville: Quarterback Chase Berry was a bright spot for the Tigers in their loss to Sissonville. 

Who to Watch for Poca: Ethan Payne ran for nearly 300 yards while scoring three touchdowns for the Dots in their win over Nitro.

CLASS AA VS. CLASS A

Man (1-0) at No. 5 Mount View (1-0)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Man avalanched Logan in the two school’s annual meeting, winning 62-8. It was the most points for the Hillbilles since the season finale in 2013 in a 61-8 trouncing of Van. It was the also the first time Man broke the 50-point barrier in nearly four years.

As for Mount View, it fended off an upset-minded River View team in The Battle of the Views in Welch, 21-20. 

Why It’s Important: After just missing the playoffs last season at 6-4, this week represents a chance for the Hillbillies to follow up the Logan win with another statement victory over a Class A playoff quarterfinal team from last fall. 

The Golden Knights have their own chance to prove to the doubters that last season wasn’t an aberration by starting 2-0 in 2019.

Who to Watch for Man: The Hillbillies used a balanced attack in week one as freshman Josh Moody had two different touchdowns cover at least 75 yards. Quarterback Caleb Milton accounted for three touchdown tosses in the win. 

Who to Watch for Mount View: Matt Thompson led all rushers in the matchup with River View as he scampered for 112 yards and the opening score of the game. 

CLASS A

Sherman (0-1) at Tug Valley (0-1)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Both teams were set back in week one as Sherman allowed 52 points in a mild upset by Clay County, 52-26. Meanwhile, Tug Valley fell 22-14 against Hurley, Virginia—that coming on the heels of Tug Valley outscoring the Rebels by a combined 73-14 in the 2017 and 2018 meetings. 

Why It’s Important: Sherman entered the season looking for a third straight playoff appearance under Michael Showalter. The Tide shook off an opening week loss in 2018 to Magnolia and rattled off nine straight wins to secure a first-round home playoff game. The win streak started with a 46-0 blanking—one of four shutouts for the Tide in 2018—of Tug Valley. 

Meanwhile, the Panthers, who made the postseason in four consecutive years under then-head coach Tony Clusky before stumbling to a 4-6 record last season, will need to win on Friday night to avoid falling further behind the proverbial eight ball to start the season. 

Who to Watch for Sherman: Freshman T.J. Hager had a strong debut in the loss to Clay County as he ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns. 

Who to Watch for Tug Valley: Meanwhile, senior quarterback Ethan Varney spearheads the Panthers’ attack. 

Other Games: Lincoln County (0-1) at Roane County (0-1); Sissonville (1-0) at Logan (0-1); Van (0-1) at Liberty (1-0); St. Marys at Scott (0-1); Tolsia (0-1) at Clay County (1-0); Hannan (0-1) at Trinity (1-0)

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