Last week’s game between Wirt County and Williamstown sent shock waves through the Valley and the state as Williamstown lost to a Class A Little Kanawha Conference rival for the first time since 1999 – and at home no less – when the Tigers dealt them a 13-7 setback. As a result, the Tigers saw their playoff outlook brighten almost exponentially. The area has a solid core of teams with five or more wins and many of the area’s games this week boast significant playoff implications. Without anything further:
Parkersburg (5-3) at Riverside (3-4)
The Big Reds continued their winning ways on Friday night with an 18-point win over longtime nemesis Cabell Midland. As a result, Parkersburg now comes into their final road contest of the 2010 season at Riverside High as winners of four of their last five contests. Offensively, Parkersburg is clicking on all cylinders and that was evidenced fully last week as quarterback Alex Ash had perhaps his best game of the season. The Big Red signal caller fired five touchdown passes for 301 yards and missed the mark on just three of his 22 pass attempts in the game. Allan Wasonga didn’t start last Friday as the result of a leg injury suffered against Parkersburg South two weeks ago, but saw work later in the game. Wasonga led the Big Reds with 86 ground yards on 13 carries while running for two touchdowns and catching another. Expect a healthier Wasonga to contribute to a more balanced PHS attack on Friday against Riverside, a 41-3 winner last week against Nitro. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Warriors and kept alive Riverside’s faint playoff hopes. Riverside needs to win out to qualify, which won’t be an easy task with Parkersburg looming on Friday and a season-ending trip to South Charleston ahead. Riverside will bring their “A” game on Friday, but it’ll take a near-flawless effort to knock off Don Reeves’ Big Reds. Parkersburg has had their struggles on defense this year – allowing three touchdowns or more in all but two of their games – but as long as the offense produces at the current rate, the Big Reds should be poised for postseason play.
Parkersburg South (3-4) at Robert C. Byrd (5-3)
A bye week came at the perfect time for the Parkersburg South Patriots after a 48-7 loss two weeks ago to crosstown rival Parkersburg. The PHS contest was closer than the score would indicate for at least two and a half quarters, but as the Big Reds pulled away they exposed a key difference between the two Wood County Class AAA schools – big play capability. The Big Reds have a high octane offense and can score from anywhere on the field whereas the Patriots have struggled to score from anywhere period. The Patriots have scored a combined 40 points in their last four games and have scored 13 points or fewer in all but two of their contests this year. The bounce back effort doesn’t have an easy start as Parkersburg South faces a Robert C. Byrd team that lost last week on the road to Class AA Magnolia. If the Patriots can get a win on Friday, they stand a solid shot to make the playoffs with remaining contests against two struggling teams from the Northern Panhandle – Wheeling Park and John Marshall. To win on Friday they’ll have to rediscover the ground game that piloted the Patriots to wins in three of their first four games.
Calhoun County (1-7) at Wirt County (5-2)
Perhaps no win from any team in the state drew as much statewide attention as Wirt County’s 13-7 victory over Williamstown on Friday night. For Wirt County, the task is easier said than done – put that win in the past and focus on the task at hand. Not exactly an easy thing to do for the first Class A LKC team to win against Williamstown in over a decade. Jason Hickman’s Tigers have it all, starting with a defense that held the Yellowjackets to just 175 total yards and came up with six takeaways. All purpose back Dalton Brindo may be the best small school player in the area and he proved why he’s the go-to guy in the clutch for Wirt County on Friday night. Brindo carried the ball 17 times for a hundred yards and the go-ahead touchdown for the Tigers. The run to the finish line for Wirt County begins with a home contest against a battered Calhoun County squad that only has about a dozen and a half healthy players available due to a devastating rash of injuries. Two of Wirt County’s final three games are at home and if the Tigers can win two, and better yet all three of those games, they won’t have to stray far from home during the postseason.
Gilmer County (2-6) at Williamstown (5-2)
Williamstown head coach Terry Smith has had to do something this week in practice he’s rarely had to do during his time at WHS – motivate his players to bounce back from a home loss. The Yellowjackets turned the ball over six times in a 13-7 loss to a Wirt County team that made quite the statement by dethroning Williamstown at their own hive. Williamstown welcomes Bucky Stewart’s Gilmer County Titans this week, a team that trailed heavily-favored St. Marys by just one point in the third quarter before dropping a 41-18 decision to the Blue Devils. Titans quarterback Luke DeMarino threw for a pair of touchdown strikes in the St. Marys contest and serves as the leader of a solid Gilmer County passing attack. Williamstown must key in on that passing attack if they want to replicate their success on defense from a week ago. The Yellowjackets held Wirt County to just 232 total yards of offense and couldn’t overcome those six turnovers, four of which were Lane Knost interceptions. Expect a bounceback effort from Knost, as well as a Williamstown rushing attack that also struggled against the Tigers. No Yellowjacket tallied more than 40 yards on the ground in the contest, a trend that will likely change against the Titans.
St. Marys (5-2) at South Harrison (3-4)
Those who had their hopes in the playoff chances of the South Harrison Hawks at the start of the month probably feel a little bit today like those who held stock in Enron during the fall of 2001. In other words, things all of sudden don’t look as good as they once did. A Hawks team that was 3-2 just after the start of the month has now lost their last two contests – both of them by ten points or less and a combined 15 points total. With a schedule that includes both St. Marys and Wirt County, there’s no margin of error for South Harrison as the Hawks need to win out to have a shot at the postseason. For St. Marys, this week’s contest is their final road test of the regular season and the Blue Devils badly need a win this week to pick up some momentum before they return home next week to host Class AA #1 Ravenswood. The St. Marys offense was bolstered by the return of top running back C.D. Cox, who has been limited for the past several weeks with a nagging ankle injury. Cox ran the ball for 69 yards and two touchdowns to lead a ground attack with three solid scoring threats in Cox, Noah Spitzer and Derek Renner, who ran for a score, caught a touchdown pass and returned a fumble for a score. Quarterback K.D. Arnett threw for two first half touchdowns as evidence that this Blue Devil team is by no means one-dimensional. St. Marys should come prepared for a South Harrison team that’ll bring its best shot but if the Blue Devils can hang onto the ball and force a couple turnovers, they could finish the road portion of their schedule with a win and a very respectable 4-1 record away from Imlay Field. Fans can hear this game locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) or online at www.literock93r.com.
Ravenswood (7-0) at Clay County (2-5)
There might not have been a more thrilling finish to a game in the Valley than in last week’s Ravenswood-Point Pleasant contest, won in overtime by the Red Devils. After trailing at halftime and through much of the second half, the Red Devils took advantage of a key 12 men on the field penalty against Point Pleasant in overtime that turned a fourth-and-one into a first and goal. Shortly after that, Chad Small’s two-yard game-winning touchdown run kept the Red Devils strive for perfection intact. This week the Red Devils face a Clay County team that’s scored more than 15 points in a game this year just twice. Ravenswood boasts the deepest backfield of any team in the Valley at any level – with the possible exception of Parkersburg – and can turn this mismatch into a track meet in a heartbeat on Friday night. The Panthers will have to find a way to clamp down on defense if an upset is in the cards this week.
Herbert Hoover (4-4) at Roane County (6-1)
Roane County has won five in a row heading into their penultimate home contest against the Herbert Hoover Huskies and perhaps no area team is winning in more prolific fashion. The Raiders have outscored struggling Clay County and Calhoun County teams by a combined 108-6 over the last two weeks and were it not for a Calhoun touchdown with about three minutes to play, Roane County would’ve come up with their second shutout in a row and their third this season. They’ll face a Herbert Hoover team that is still alive in the playoff race but facing an uphill battle against two very tough teams in as many weeks. Their remaining contests are with Roane County and Point Pleasant – teams with a combined three losses on the season. Roane boasts a powerful running attack led by Nathan Reynolds, who ran for over 200 yards two weeks ago and averaged over 13 yards a carry in limited time last week against Calhoun County. Herbert Hoover must slow this Roane County ground game for an upset to happen on Friday night.
Ritchie County (2-5) at Tyler Consolidated (0-7)
The biggest storyline to this game is the off-field situation occurring in Ellenboro, where assistant coach Brian Powell has taken over as the interim head coach of the Ritchie County Rebels effective immediately. Outgoing head coach Greg Holden was serving a one-game suspension and did not appear on the sidelines during Ritchie County’s 42-22 road win at Doddridge County. Holden reportedly submitted his resignation to the Ritchie County administration prior to that contest – one that saw Reno Jackson gain 231 rushing yards and run for four touchdowns in a game the Rebels never trailed. Tyler Consolidated is running out of time if they want to score a victory this season, though they’ve been close a few times. The Silver Knights were limited to just 112 total yards and seven first downs in a 28-0 loss at Braxton County – Tyler Consolidated’s third shutout loss of the year. Fans can hear this game locally on WXCR-FM (92.3 FM).
Tucker County (4-3) at Doddridge County (3-5)
Doddridge County is another team that had high playoff hopes after five games only to watch them evaporate with a tougher second half schedule. The Bulldogs lost quarterback Cory Aichele to an ankle injury late in the first half of a 20 point home loss to Ritchie County. Tucker County has lost two straight and is fighting for their shot at a winning season and a possible playoff berth while the Bulldogs need wins in their remaining contests against Tucker and St. Marys just to finish .500, which might be a rather tall order at this point, especially if Aichele can’t go for the Bulldogs on Friday night.
Ripley (2-6) at Huntington (2-5)
Paden City (2-5) at Beallsville, Ohio (1-7)
Parkersburg Catholic (6-2)