GAMES TO WATCH
No. 1 Fairmont Senior (3-0) at No. 2 Bridgeport (3-0)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Last week: Both teams won convincingly over previously unbeaten opponents. The Polar Bears topped North Marion, 39-6. Bridgeport got by Liberty Harrison, 35-7.
Why it’s important: It’s a matchup of Class AA state championship contenders and the winner enhances its chances of staying at home through the semifinals in the postseason. One of these two teams has played in the Class AA title game each of the last six seasons. The contest will be shown live on the MetroNews channel.
Who to watch for Fairmont Senior: Quarterback Gage Michael threw three touchdown passes to Kayson Nealy in last week’s win over the Huskies. Against the Tribe, the Polar Bears will need to stop the run, meaning their front seven will need to be on top of its game. Defensive lineman Zach Frazier leads the group up front.
Who to watch for Bridgeport: The Indians will look to control the click and possess the ball to keep it away from Fairmont Senior. For that plan to be effective, BHS will need a strong showing from its offensive line, as well as quarterback Devin Vandergrift and fullback Trey Pancake. Pancake and fellow linebacker Carson Winkie are pivotal to the team’s success on defense.
No. 14 Nicholas County (2-1) at Lincoln (2-1)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week: The Grizzlies suffered their first regular season loss since 2017 against Wyoming East, 22-18. Lincoln got past Grafton, 18-10.
Why it’s important: With the margin for error small in Class AA, a loss in this one is costly. The Grizzlies want to show they can respond from last week’s setback, while the Cougars have a chance to pick up a win that would build confidence and likely pay off in a big way down the line.
Who to watch for Nicholas County: Wideout Luke LeRose is an explosive playmaker on the perimeter and hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback Timmy Baker in last week’s loss. Baker, however, suffered an injury in the second quarter and never returned. His status is important as the Grizzlies try to get back on track.
Who to watch for Lincoln: After allowing 62 points in a Week 2 loss to Fairmont Senior, the Lincoln defense responded and held Grafton to 84 yards a week ago. Tailback Colten Hovermale is the focal point of the offense and rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Bearcats.
No. 5 University (2-1) at No. 7 Wheeling Park (2-1)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week: Both teams bounced back from their first loss to climb back over the .500 mark. University defeated Brooke, 39-15, while Wheeling Park got by Hedgesville, 43-26.
Why it’s important: The winner will feel good about its chances of making the playoffs, while the loser falls back to .500. That both teams are in the top 10 of the first WVSSAC playoff ratings only increases the importance of this Ohio Valley Athletic Conference matchup.
Who to watch for University: The Hawks outscored Brooke, 26-0, in the second half last week to pull away. Logan Raber rushed for 220 yards against Brooke, while quarterback Joseph McBee threw for 127 yards and one touchdown and rushed for an additional 55 yards and four scores.
Who to watch for Wheeling Park: Quarterback Alex Dunlevy has experience and talent. In last week’s victory over the Eagles, Dunlevy threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 48 yards and two scores. Shaheed Jackson caught a pair of TDs and finished with four receptions for 70 yards.
Other games: Valley Wetzel (0-2) at Clay-Battelle (1-1); East Fairmont (1-2) at Braxton County (0-3); Class AA No. 10 North Marion (2-1) at Elkins (0-3); Philip Barbour (0-3) at Liberty Harrison (2-1); Hedgesville (0-3) at Morgantown (0-3); Class AA No. 14 Robert C. Byrd (2-1) at Preston (3-1); Class A No. 15 Trinity (2-1) at Marylan School for the Deaf (3-0)