It’s hard to believe, but the regular season wraps up this weekend.
It’s been a feast or famine type of season in the Southern Region.
As it stands, No. 2 rated Meadow Bridge is 9-0 and will host a first round playoff game in Class A.
Other area squads that will host a playoff contest next week: Class AA No. 5 Bluefield at 8-1, Class AA No. 3 Greenbrier West at 10-0 and Class AA No. 7 PikeView at 7-2.
One AAA team that hopes to host a playoff game is current No. 8 rated Nicholas County at 8-1 (see story below).
Oak Hill (see same story below), Mount View and Summers County have struggled to winless seasons thus far.
Valley Fayette and Webster County have but one win to show each and Wyoming East has come up on the good side but twice.
The big game in the area this week is a Class A matchup: No. 2 Meadow Bridge (9-0) at No. 17 Richwood (6-3).
The Wildcats must travel to the Lumberjacks yard.
Meadow Bridge has the size and experience advantage.
But Richwood has the home field advantage, a large and rowdy fan base, and the motivation of having to win to get in the playoffs by being just outside of the Top 16 now.
This will be a game to watch – or at least a score to watch.
This week’s area schedule
Class AA No. 7 PikeView (7-2) at Midland Trail (0-9)
Class AA No. 22 Independence (5-4) at Class A No. 15 Fayetteville (6-3)
Class A No. 2 Meadow Bridge (9-0) at Class A No. 17 Richwood (6-3)
AAA No. 8 Nicholas County (8-1) at Preston (0-9)
Oak Hill (0-9) at Mount View (0-9)
Princeton (3-6) at Woodrow Wilson (3-6)
Valley Fayette (1-7) at Williamson (5-4)
Webster County (1-8) at Mount Hope (4-5)
Class AA No. 19 Westside (6-3) at Class AA No. 7 River View (8-1)
Wyoming East (2-7) at Liberty Raleigh (4-5)
Class AA No. 5 Bluefield (8-1) at Class AA No. 4 Wayne (8-1)
Greenbrier West, Class AA No. 3 (10-0)
Shady Spring, Class AA No. 11 (7-3)
Pocahontas County, Class A No. 14 (6-4)
Summers County (0-10)
James Monroe (5-5)
* * *
Oak Hill, which has gone through a tough year on the gridiron, has been forced to forfeit its lone win so far.
The Red Devils used two ineligible players, both sophomores, in their 72-32 win over Webster County Oct. 8.
“We played some kids who we didn’t know were ineligible,” coach Casey Crane said. “It was disappointing to have to give it up that way, not losing it on the field.”
As a result of the forfeit and per Fayette County Schools policy, Crane has been suspended for this week’s game at winless Mount View, the season finale for both squads.
“I understood it, and I accept the suspension,” the third-year coach said. “But we would never knowingly use a player who is ineligible. Nothing good comes from doing something like that.”
Assistant coach Dave Moneypenny will likely run the team in Crane’s absence Friday night.
It will be the first game Crane has missed in coaching high school football for 11 years.
The repercussions of the forfeit could affect several potential playoff teams, which will not get the bonus point for the Red Devils’ win over Webster County.
It could force Nicholas County to go on the road to Brooke instead of the Bruins coming to Summersville in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs, which begin next week.
Nicholas County (8-1) currently has 109 points for a 12.111 rating, and is rated No. 8 in Class AAA, according to SSAC ratings released Tuesday. Brooke (7-2) has 105 points for an 11.666 rating, and is No. 9.
According to unofficial calculations, if Nicholas beats Preston (0-9) this week on the road, it would have 121 points.
If Brooke wins at home against Musselman (5-4), it would also have 121 points.
That’s where the bonus points — specifically that all-important one from Oak Hill — could play a significant role on who travels and who plays at home.
Nicholas will pick up a bonus point if Oak Hill beats Mount View, which would give the Grizzlies, at 9-1, 122 points. They could also pick up bonus points from East Fairmont and North Marion, which is not likely.
Brooke is guaranteed a bonus point from John Marshall vs. Parkersburg South, since the Bruins defeated both teams this season, and stands to pick up bonus points from Woodrow Wilson and Weir. But if Woodrow loses to Princeton and Weir to Tyler Consolidated, Brooke, at 8-2, would finish with 122 points.
If Brooke and Nicholas end up tied in the ratings, the tiebreaker would go to Brooke, based on bonus points within class.
Based on that scenario, if Nicholas had that bonus point from Oak Hill vs. Webster, it would have 123 points and finish eighth.
“It could happen,” Nicholas coach Gene Morris said. “But it’s kind of out of our control. There’s nothing we can do about it. It is what it is.
“Of course, I’d much rather have a home game as opposed to going on the road. But we aren’t upset about it. We can’t let it affect us or our preparations. And then, it’s really all based on whether or not we win and whether or not Brooke wins. We just have to wait and see how it works itself out.”
Shady Spring, PikeView and Fayetteville also could be affected.
If Fayetteville, No. 15 in Class A this week, beats Independence, it will make the playoff field of 16.
PikeView is tied with River View for No. 7 in this week’s Class AA ratings and Shady Spring is tied for 11th. Obviously, PikeView and Shady would have stood at No. 7 and No. 11 alone in this week’s ratings with the bonus point from Oak Hill.
Crane said he understands teams affected being upset.
“It’s not going to hurt just Nicholas, but the other playoff teams we’ve played, too,” Crane said. “It’s unfortunate.”
* * *
Remember earlier this year when Randy Moss played for the New England patriots and later returned to play against them with the Minnesota Vikings?
There’s a similar situation happening this weekend – high school style in Beckley.
J.C. Pennington will make his return to Beckley Friday, when Princeton visits Woodrow Wilson at Flying Eagle Stadium in the season finale for both teams.
It’s a strange scenario for sure.
Pennington began the season as the starting quarterback at Woodrow Wilson.
He’ll end it on the field for Princeton, after moving in with his father in Princeton after the Flying Eagles’ game with John Marshall on Oct. 8.
There was some speculation as to whether Pennington would be able to play in the game, after it was reported that he was still living in Beckley and driving to Princeton.
But that was cleared up, Pennington said.
“I think it was just a misunderstanding,” Pennington said. “I think everything has been taken care of and I will be playing Friday.”
He has played in two games for the Tigers.
Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly said he would only talk about players who were playing at Woodrow.
“I can only comment on players wearing maroon and white,” he said. “We’ve been too busy preparing for Riverside (last week) and now we’re preparing for Princeton. We’re playing Princeton and they’ve got us on alert because of how they played against Greenbrier East (a 13-10 win). That sent up a flag to us that we better have our minds right because they have a good team.”
Pennington wouldn’t say exactly what spurred the move.
He was 28-of-60 for 214 yards and a touchdown for the Flying Eagles.
Pennington did say he still has friends on the Woodrow Wilson team.
“I still talk to some of the guys,” he said. “I talked to Jesse (Earp) last week and he wished me luck and I wished him luck.
“I’m real excited about the game. Some of the guys, we talk a little trash but that’s just in fun. I’m sure there are some people who don’t want to see me succeed and don’t want me to win. But that’s just the way it goes.”
He said that he has gone over game scenarios in his head.
“Just about the different things that can happen,” he said. “It’s a big game. It will be a little different. But once the game starts, it’s going to come down to what happens between the lines.”
Pennington said in a preseason story that he wants people to view him as a good kid. And he hopes there are no hard feelings.
“I have so many friends on (the Woodrow Wilson) team and I hope they do well,” he said. “I hope people feel the same. I just hope they understand that I did what I thought I had to do.”
Jim Workman and Dave Morrison contributed to this report.
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