By Eric Little

Last week, we learned just how potent Ritchie County can be with its blowout win over Parkersburg Catholic. What will we learn from this week’s games?

CLASS AAA

Athens, Ohio (0-2) at No. 7 Parkersburg South (1-0) 

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Parkersburg South scored seven touchdowns for a second straight week in its 48-14 romp over University. The majority of the Patriots’ scores in the season opener against Ripley came through the air, but last week, they got things done on the ground. South ran for 348 and five touchdowns as a team. Athens, Ohio comes in at 0-2 after narrow losses to Waverly, Ohio and Jackson, Ohio by three and five points, respectively. Both of those opponents remain unbeaten. 

Why It’s Important: Parkersburg South feels this game got away from them last year. The Patriots had chances in the second half, down a score, before Athens finally got insurance to seal a 26-16 win. At 1-2 last year, South mounted a six-game winning streak to get into the playoffs. It’s also South’s home opener and the home debut of new Patriot head coach Nathan Tanner. For Athens, they’d like to avoid going 0-3 against a schedule that eventually gets a little easier, but is currently in a rugged stretch. 

Who to Watch for Parkersburg South: Devin Gaines ran for 130 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns against University. But it was the first time all season that Penn played a major role with his legs. The South signal-caller ran for a team-best 142 yards (his first 100-yard+ effort of the season) and two touchdowns.

The scouting report says Athens is a much more pass-first team that what South’s seen the last two weeks, so expect their secondary to get tested in ways they haven’t been to this point. For many of those players, it’ll be their first true test at the varsity level.

Woodrow Wilson (1-1) at No. 10 Parkersburg (1-1)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Parkersburg went on the road for the first time all year and suffered a 55-13 setback against Cabell Midland. Woodrow Wilson scored a 24-7 win over rival Greenbrier East.

Why It’s Important: It’s scheduled to be the last conference matchup between these longtime rivals, with Woodrow Wilson leaving the Mountain State Athletic Conference. For PHS, a strong effort will be necessary after last week’s loss to get the ship back on the right track.

Who to Watch for Parkersburg: Bryson Singer connected with Sam Potts on a 43-yard touchdown pass play to give the Big Reds a first quarter lead. Unfortunately for Parkersburg, Cabell Midland scored the game’s next 49 points. But Potts had two grabs, and although he’s best known for his work on the basketball court, could be an emerging pass-catching threat for Parkersburg in the future.

Ripley (1-1) at Riverside (1-1) 

When: Friday 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Ripley evened its mark at 1-1 with a convincing 38-7 win over Buckhannon-Upshur. The Vikings scored the game’s last 35 points. Riverside failed in its bid to go to 2-0 for the first time in a decade with a 35-22 loss to Huntington.

Why It’s Important: Just like last year, the Vikings followed up a season-opening loss with a win in Week 2. Last year, Ripley followed THAT up with eight more wins – a feat they’d once again like to duplicate. Riverside has a few real toss-up games on their schedule, with this being one of them. A win would go a long way to boost the Warriors’ playoff hopes.

Who to Watch for Ripley: In his second start at quarterback, Noah Westfall had a steadier hand on the wheel of the Viking ship. He completed half his pass attempts, ran for a score and recovered a fumble for a touchdown. Ripley also got a 153-yard effort from Dalton Myers that included a pair of TD runs.

CLASS A

Williamstown (1-1) at Marietta, Ohio (2-0)

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Williamstown rebounded from their season-opening loss at Wheeling Central to pitch a 27-0 shutout against the Magnolia Blue Eagles. Marietta got 332 rushing yards and four ground touchdowns from Chase Taylor in a 52-34 win over Warren. Three of Taylor’s four touchdowns came on runs greater than 60 yards.

Who to Watch for Williamstown: Anytime a defense holds their opponent to negative yardage, it’s worth watching. That’s what Williamstown’s defense did to the Magnolia run game last week, limiting the Blue Eagles to -7 rushing yards. (By comparison, I ran for zero rushing yards last week … as did many of you.) 

Brayden Modesitt is also settling in nicely at quarterback, passing for three touchdowns and rushing for another. Modesitt was an efficient 14-17 through the air for 197 yards.

Parkersburg Catholic (1-1) at South Harrison (0-2)

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Parkersburg Catholic fell 50-13 against Ritchie County in a game they trailed 28-0 at halftime. South Harrison lost 35-6 on the road against Liberty. The Hawks have scored a total of 12 points in their first two games. 

Why It’s Important: While last week’s 50-13 loss to Ritchie County likely doesn’t merit a complete trip back to the drawing board, Parkersburg Catholic head coach Lance Binegar surely spent this week trying to figure out a few things about his team. A win would certainly help that effort. South Harrison could be eager to pounce on a vulnerable Crusaders squad otherwise. It’s also South Harrison’s home opener.

Who to Watch for the Crusaders: Jeb Boice gets the bulk of the work in the backfield for this team, and expect nothing less against South Harrison, but he makes things happen because of a veteran offensive line that’s been intact for three seasons. They also protect quarterback Xavier Collie, who looks to step up and play a bigger role in the Crusader offense this season.

Wahama (1-1) at Racine Southern, Ohio (2-0) 

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m

Last Week: Wahama held off Miller, Ohio to pick up a 24-20 after leading 24-6 in the first half. Southern advanced to 2-0 with a 31-0 win over Federal Hocking. In their two games, the Tornadoes are outscoring opponents 65-6.

Why It’s Important: Wahama’s last six quarters have been much better than their first two, when they trailed 28-0 against Ravenswood in their season opener. A win against a strong Southern team could be a big confidence boost to this program.

Who to Watch for the White Falcons: Trevor Hunt ran for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Wahama win. Hunt also picked up a pair of two-point conversions on the ground.

Calhoun County (1-1) at Doddridge County (2-0)

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Last Week: Webster County defeated Calhoun County 47-44 in a shootout. Doddridge County ran past Tyler Consolidated 42-28 in a showdown between running backs Hunter America for Doddridge County and Mark Rucker for Tyler Consolidated. Both ran for two touchdowns each, with nearly identical rushing totals.

Why It’s Important: Doddridge County has a shot to do some really special things this year, and a loss against an upstart group of Red Devils could derail that.

Who to Watch for Calhoun County: The running game. It’s been the source of the Red Devils’ biggest success. It was Travis Richards getting it done in their season opener against Wirt County. We’ll see if he or some other backs step up against the Bulldogs.

CLASS AA

Roane County (1-1) at Clay County (1-1) 

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Last Week: Roane County picked up a 39-22 win over Lincoln County – the Raiders’ first win of the year. Clay County dropped their first game of the year, a 22-14 decision to Tolsia.

Why It’s Important: Both of these teams are at crucial pivot points in their seasons, but particularly Roane, since the Raiders have a bye week next week and would much rather reflect on a win for the next two weeks.

Who to Watch for Roane County: Danny Bush ran for two touchdowns and 78 yards to help pace a Roane County running game that tallied 232 ground yards. Shadraq Greathouse ran for a score and threw for one, while completing six of seven pass attempts.

Other games: Paden City (0-2) at Van (0-2); Gilmer County (1-1) at Wirt County (1-1)