MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2019 playoffs will have a decidedly different look for the Huntington Highlanders. In each of the past eight seasons, Huntington has begun their postseason run at home. Although it is short trip east on I-64 to Charleston, the Highlanders will hit the road in round one.
“Obviously our success rate is much higher at home than it is on the road,” said Huntington head coach Billy Seals. “We are playing someone who is familiar and we play them year in and year out.”
Huntington enters the playoffs with a 5-5 record but head coach Billy Seals says his team improved over the second half of the season. Last Friday, the Highlanders held Spring Valley to a season-low nineteen points in an eight-point loss.
“You look here at the end of the year, I think we are playing our best football,” Seals said. “We have lost a couple games during that stretch but I think we have played our best football in this stretch of games.”
After an 0-2 start, George Washington enters the postseason with wins in seven of their final eight games. That streak began with a 31-30 win over Huntington on September 13th.
“We’re 0-2 and playing a Huntington team that we hadn’t beaten since 2006,” said George Washington head coach Steve Edwards, Junior. “So when you come out and win a game whether you win by half a point or the one point we did, it was huge for us. It was a big turning point for us.”
The Patriots made a three-win improvement this fall. The play of first-year starting quarterback R.T. Alexander is a major reason why. The junior signal caller has thrown for over two-thousand yards with 26 touchdowns.
“The kids have got confidence in each other and they certainly have confidence in R.T.,” said Edwards Jr. “R.T. certainly has confidence in his teammates. When you get that going it makes for a good combination for everybody. Then you have seasons like you are having right now.”
Regular season rematches in the playoffs are common and Edwards believes there is little advantage from their victory back in week three.
“If I had my choices of teams to play in the first round it wouldn’t be Huntington,” Edwards Jr. said. “It is the way it is in our conference. It is tough to beat a team twice so I think the advantage goes to them.”
“Their schemes are really good,” Seals said. “We’ve got to play better football than we did in week two. I think both teams are improved from that point in the season.”