It’s Week Eight in West Virginia high school football.
In our area of the state, there are several teams in the hunt for a postseason bid.
But securing a home field game in the first round is a different story.
Class AAA is the thinnest field, as the No. 9 ranked Grizzlies of Nicholas County (6-1) hold the only area rating in the top 16 at this point.
This week’s opponent is Oak Hill, a Class AA squad with just one win.
North Marion (3-4), a bye week and Preston (0-6) are ahead.
So a 9-1 record is possible.
Getting enough points to secure a home game in the first round – we’ll see.
The Class AA field looks better, with No. 2 Cavaliers of Greenbrier West (7-0) and the No. 3 Beavers of Bluefield (6-1) holding steady.
Greenbrier West faces winless Webster County this week before wrapping up the regular season with Midland Trail (0-6) and Class A No. 8 Fayetteville (5-1) before taking Week 11 off.
Bonus points are going to be few and far between for the Cavs.
Bluefield also plays a winless team this week – William Fleming Va., then has a bye week to prepare for two tough opponents in the final two weeks of the regular season – at No. 13 James Monroe (5-2) and at No. 6 Wayne (5-1).
In Class A, unbeaten and No. 2 ranked Meadow Bridge (6-0) and No. 8 Fayetteville (5-1) have the best chance to stay home for Week One of the playoffs.
The second-rated Wildcats have four contests remaining, home games against winless Summers County and Mount Hope (4-2) and road games at Class A No. 12 Van (5-1) and No. 18 Richwood (4-3).
Mount Hope and Richwood will be fighting for playoff positioning as well, so it will be a battle.
Fayetteville has Mount Hope this week, then at No. 7 Buffalo (6-1) and home contests with Greenbrier West and Independence (3-3).
The Pirates have their work cut out for them.
Area games this weekend
Greenbrier East (2-5) at Class AA No. 13 James Monroe (5-2)
Class AA No. 2 Greenbrier West (7-0) at Webster County (0-6)
Huntington (2-4) at Woodrow Wilson (2-4)
Keyser (3-3) at Class AA No. 11 Shady Spring (5-2)
Class AA No. 17 Liberty Raleigh (4-2) at Independence (3-3)
Class A No. 17 Mount Hope (4-2) at Class A No. 8 Fayetteville (5-1)
Oak Hill (1-6) at Class AAA No. 9 Nicholas County (6-1)
Princeton (2-4) at Class AAA No. 6 Hurricane (6-1)
Class AA No. 12 River View (5-1) at Midland Trail (0-6)
Scott (3-3) at Mount View (0-7)
Summers County (0-7) at Class A No. 2 Meadow Bridge (6-0)
Tygarts Valley (0-6) at Class A No. 19 Pocahontas County (3-4)
William Fleming, Va. (0-6) at Class AA No. 3 Bluefield (6-1)
Wyoming East (2-5) at Westside (3-3)
Bye – Class AA No. 9 PikeView (5-2)
Bye – Class A No. 18 Richwood (4-3)
Fayette County, Class A Showdown: Mount Hope Mustangs vs. Fayetteville Pirates
No hype necessary here.
“It’s Mount Hope, it’s Fayetteville, and not a lot more needs to be said,” Mount Hope coach Eddie Souk said. “It’s a county rivalry. This is our fourth county team. These rivalries are what it’s all about. Their kids will be ready, our kids will be ready.”
Fayetteville’s Frank Spangler, along with Souk one of the longest tenured coaches in the area, said nearly the same thing.
“What else needs to be said?” he said. “As long as I can remember, it’s been a pretty good rivalry. We both have pretty good programs, we both play pretty tough schedules and within that schedule we meet at the crossroads.”
Fayetteville is led by Hunter Hernandez, who leads the area in rushing with 1,031 yards on 109 carries and 14 touchdowns.
But Souk sees more than just Hernandez in his rival, just 15 miles north on U.S. Route 19.
“When I look at Fayetteville, I don’t just see Hernandez because they’ve got a couple of other good backs, too,” he said. “They aren’t a one-dimensional team.”
Elijah Lewis has added 406 yards and five scores and Chris Hill has 231 yards and nine touchdowns for the Pirates (5-1), who climbed to No. 8 in the Class A ratings this week.
The key for both teams will be stopping the offensive juggernauts that have both teams in the playoff hunt.
Mount Hope is coming off a good defensive effort in a 42-8 win over Valley.
“That’s what we’ve been stressing, defense, defense, defense,” Souk said. “We’ve gotten beat in so many phases defensively, we just took the approach to work on it and fix it. We are getting better at it.”
When Spangler looks at Mount Hope, he sees speed. He mentioned the word 14 different times in a five-minute interview about the game.
“Speed and size,” he said. “They’ve got size on that line and they have speed in that backfield. Mount Hope’s a good football team. We have to contain that speed and play solid defense.”
Mount Hope features Demetri Gray (65 carries, 503 yards, 8 TDs), Jalen Jones (65-377-11) and Josh Criss (26-216-2).
Criss missed two games with an injury and returned with 75 yards against Valley.
It will be Fayetteville’s homecoming game.
“Seems like we’re always somebody’s homecoming,” Souk said. “This is our fourth homecoming game. We’ve won two and lost our own (to Pendleton), so we’ll see what happens.”
Another interesting fact in front of the Mount Hope-Fayetteville battle Friday night in Fayetteville: The game features the two players in the area who have scored via reception and rush and have thrown a pass for a touchdown.
Mount Hope freshman running back Jalen Jones and Fayetteville sophomore quarterback Aaron Krise have both done it.
Krise was the first to accomplish the feat in week five when the quarterback caught a touchdown pass, then Jones added his name to the list last week when the running back threw a touchdown pass.
Interesting, both added the needed score against Fayette County foe Valley.
Jones is quite adept at finding the end zone, scoring 11 touchdowns on the season. He’s kicked extra points and has three two-point conversions.
“Jalen is drawing a little attention,” Mount Hope coach Eddie Souk said of opposing defenses. “We had that (pass) play in there. And if you aren’t going to use it, why practice it? It worked out.”
Jones threw a 16-yard TD pass to Sean Bunting with 7.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter in a 42-8 win.
Jones has even scored on defense.
“Sometimes you are just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, and he was on (the fumble recovery),” Souk said. “We put a little heat on the quarterback and he pitched it a little earlier than he wanted to.”
Jones did the rest, going just 5 yards for the score.
Krise has one touchdown rushing, one passing and, of course, the 58-yard big bomb against Valley.
There was no trickery, per se, on the touchdown pass from Chris Hill.
“It was a designed play,” Krise said. “Coach goes, ‘Aaron, you’re going to score a touchdown on this play.’ So he lined me up at split end and Chris Hill threw a good pass. We were waiting on the right time to use it. And the first play against Valley was the right time.”
Krise said he would rate that play to be his favorite score.
“My run, it was only a 26-yard run,” he said. “But the touchdown, coming when it did and being 58 yards, and the opening play of the game, that was memorable.”
Krise was a little bummed by the fact that the Valley game was the only game where he had a PAT blocked.
He is 27-of-28 on PATs has a field goal and has 44 total points.
“They busted through and blocked it, I kicked it too low,” Krise said. “I was counting on being perfect this year, too.”
When it comes to getting into the end zone by any means, both Jones and Krise are in select company.
Other prep football news
Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly endured a tough week last week, right as the Flying Eagles have started to turn the corner.
Last week he learned that his son Max, the team’s starting center, would have to undergo surgery to repair a knee injury.
He may miss the rest of the season.
“There were a lot of tears around the Lilly house this week,” Lilly said as the Eagles were prepping for John Marshall, a game Woodrow won 26-20, the team’s second win in a row.
“It’s tough. I don’t like to see any kids get hurt. That one hit a little closer to home.”
Lilly said Max was like a coach on the field, making all the line calls.
That duty has now gone to seniors like Clinton Van Horn.
Lilly praised Michael Bailey, a sophomore, who stepped in at center as one of the young players who has stepped up in recent weeks.
Oak Hill came into its game with Webster County having scored 128 points.
By halftime of the game with the Highlanders, the Red Devils had nearly half of that, with a 60-18 lead in a game it would win 72-32.
Oak Hill unveiled a new Wildcat-like formation, with a direct snap to Quinton Coats, and he took advantage, scoring five touchdowns. J.J. Green added 232 yards and three scores.
By the last series of the second quarter, Coats and Green were done, save one play late on defense so the seniors could exit the field together during their last home game.
Lots of playoff issues will be sorted out in the next three weeks, but there stands to be ground gained, and lost, when Raleigh County rivals Shady Spring (5-2) and Liberty (4-2) get together Oct. 29.
It’s the last game of the season for Shady Spring while Liberty faces Wyoming East on Nov. 5.
Both teams have lost to PikeView — no shame there — and both lost their season opener, Liberty to Westside and Shady to powerful Greenbrier West.
Liberty has won three in a row, Shady two, after their respective losses to the Panthers and both are clearly in the playoff hunt, behind standout passing attacks.
Shady Spring’s Adam Weeks had completed 82 of 119 passes for 977 yards and six TDs. Liberty’s Devon Toney is 62-of-119 for 948 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Speaking of Westside, the Renegades have averaged 56 points in their last two games and have evened their record at 3-3.
This, after scoring just 66 points total in their first three wins.
Two of the Renegades’ losses (Liberty and Matewan) have been by a combined three points.
Dave Morrison and Jim Workman contributed to this report.
For more high school sports, visit www.register-herald.com or www.bdtonline.com