Kanawha Valley Report


Seven teams in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley made it into the WVSSAC playoffs in all three classifications.  It’s possible all seven could advance to round 2 since there are no teams facing each other in the first round this weekend.

No. 1 George Washington vs. No. 16 Logan, Friday 7:30pm Steve Edwards Sr. Field   

This will be the first playoff game every held at the campus location of the Patriots.   The pride of that was evidence during last week’s SSAC meeting in Parkersburg when Coach Steve Edwards Jr. announced the site.   Edwards, with a win over St. Albans in the regular season finale, finalized a perfect regular season, added his 100th career victory, and eclipsed his father as the all-time winningest coach at George Washington High School.

"No matter what happens from here on out, it’s been a really good season," said Edwards. "It’s the first semester and we’re going into the second semester now and the tests get a lot harder."

The core of Edwards’ team has been through the single elimination process before.   Some of his seniors were on the team two years ago that lost to South Charleston in Wheeling and most of this year’s starters were part of the Bridgeport loss in the second round in 2009.

"They’ve been this route before and a lot of these kids were on that big run we made to the 14th game.  They’ve also been disappointed," said Edwards.  "Everybody’s auditioning to be the star and you only get a call back if you win."

Logan didn’t face G-W in the regular season, but Coach Gary Mullins knows the task is tall.

"They’re definitely going to be a handful," said Mullins. "But after the last couple of years we’ve been through, we’re just happy to have the opportunity to play.  But it is the game of football and crazy things happen.  We know we’re going to have to play our absolute best, but that’s what playoff football is all about–rising to the level you haven’t met all year."

No. 3 South Charleston vs. No. 13 Parkersburg, 1:30pm Saturday Laidley Field/UC Stadium  

It seems only fitting the Black Eagles would begin their playoff run against the team who’s game represented a turning point in the season.   The Black Eagles trailed the Big Reds at halftime on the Saturday afternoon following the Marshall-WVU game at Oakes Field.  

"We knew that was pivotal for us. If we didn’t get something to happen at halftime versus Parkersburg, we were going to have a mediocre season," said Coach John Messinger. "It was early in the season, but it was gut check time and it was time to decide what kind of football team we were going to be. Thank goodness we figured it out and came out and played some good football."

South Charleston went on to beat Parkersburg on a day the Big Reds standout running back Alan Wasonga wasn’t too shabby in his first appearance of the 2010 season.  He finished with several touchdowns and hundreds of yards rushing.  Still it was the "big play" that dictated tempo of the game. 

Messinger knows it’s probably a healthier and much improved Parkersburg squad, but he feels his personnel are improved as well.   The first meeting between the two was on the natural surface at Oakes Field, this week they’ll play on the turf of Laidley Field/UC Stadium.   The first meeting was Alan Wasonga’s first game of the year after he missed two games early to an injury.   The Black Eagles will be without the services of Raysheed Coleman who suffered a cracked vertebra against Lincoln County late in the season. 

No. 5 Hurricane vs. No. 12 Spring Valley, Friday 7:30pm Redskins Stadium 

This matchup is also a rematch of a regular season game, won 49-21.   Since that time, a lot has changed.  Spring Valley at the time was banged up and had at least two starters out and others who were not at full strength.  The original meeting was also on an unusual Saturday afternoon affair, the day after the Marshall-WVU game.   Timberwolves Coach Brad Dingess says his young squad has grown up considerably.

"We lost 10-starters off last year’s offense and lost 9-defensive guys," said Dingess.  "We’re playing six sophomores, so the kids have had to grow up quick.  We took two tough losses early in the year, but we won five of our last six and we’re playing pretty good football now."

Although they’re playing good football, they’ll have to be at their best to contain what has developed into a potent offense for the Redskins.   Hurricane quarterback Tyler Pate has worked himself into one of the best passers in the state, leading the Kanawha Valley in passing in the regular season.    Receiver Ben Fletcher is also the highest yard gainer through the air in the valley and on the other side fleet-footed Roger Turner is also among the league’s best.   When you shut down Hurricane’s passing attack, they can burn you equally with the ground game combination off Josh Thompson and Nick Rice.    Despite that–the little things are what worry head coach Willis May the most.

"Turnovers have always been the key," said May. "We have to be able to take care of the football and we’ve got to control the ball a little bit."

On defense, May says he doesn’t need to watch film to know the key to stopping Spring Valley is stopping talented running back Anthony Evans.

"We’ve got to find a way to take care of him and they’re quarterback is vastly improved," May said. "We’ve really got to put pressure on him because they’ve gone to more of a spread look since they played us."

The game is a bit of a rivalry between the two schools and in recent meetings has proved to be a close affair no matter the circumstances.  Added incentive for Hurricane is the fact they haven’t won a home playoff game since 1982 and if they can beat Spring Valley it will be the first 10-win season in school history.

No. 6 Capital vs. No. 11 Fairmont Senior, Friday, 7:30pm Laidley Field/University of Charleston Stadium

The first round matchup will also be the first ever playoff experience for both head coaches.   Capital’s John Carpenter and Fairmont Senior’s Jarred Moletta are both in their first year as head coach. 

Both admit they know very little about the other team, but look for that to change by Friday night.    Carpenter says the urgency of the playoff scenario isn’t something lost on his squad.  He says they’ve been playing with that attitude since the loss to George Washington to keep the home-field advantage.    Keion Wright is Capital’s standout and typically carries the team.  Carpenter says they rely on him to have a big game.

"It’s really, really important," said Carpenter. "He’s the guy who’s going to carry it for us and anybody that’s watched us knows that.   But we’ve got to have some others step up.  There’s only several defenses you can face and we’re going to prepare the same way, we just have to block for him."

Moletta says keeping Wright from turning the corner is going to be the key for his defense this week, but it’s an unfamiliar game plan.

"We play Bridgeport year in and year out and that’s their game, but now we’re coming down and facing a different back–a true power back," said Moletta. "It’s playoff time.  No turnovers is a key, good solid blocking, and keep the chains moving and put up points."

No. 16 (AA) Poca vs. No. 1 (AA) Ravenswood, 7:30pm Friday Ravenswood High School 

The Dots have experienced an up and down season this year, literally.   The final regular season victory over Tolsia, which solidified their spot in the playoffs, was the first time Poca has been able to win back-to-back games all year.   The 6-4 record however is bolstered with wins over two Triple-A teams, Nitro and Winfield.  The Dots also have one game over a smaller opponent, when they beat Buffalo.

The game is a rematch between the two schools and Coach Bob Lemley worries the task has gotten no easier.   When the teams met in the regular season, Ravenswood quarterback Cody Starcher played defense, but not offense.    Lemley says with Jason Cuffey running the show, offense hasn’t been their issue.  He says the Dots defense must tighten up if they have any chance of surviving past the first round.  

No. 14 Herbert Hoover vs. No. 3 Greenbrier West, 7:30pm Friday Greenbrier East High School  Most believed Herbert Hoover would experience a rebuilding year in 2010 after their first playoff appearance in several years during 2009.   Coach Tim Meyer is hoping the playoff experience this year will be better than last year when the Huskies travelled to Frankfort and were soundly drubbed by the Falcons. 

Meyer says the playoff berth is a credit to a lot of hard-work his team has put in 2010.   The Huskies finished the season 6-4 with a key win over Chapmanville and a narrow loss to Ravenswood.

No. 10 (A) Buffalo vs. No. 7 (A) Matewan Friday 7:30 Matewan   

Buffalo Coach Mike Sawyer is worried about the mental state of his team after "backing" into the playoffs as he calls it.    The Bison finished the season with back to back losses to Man and #1 Wahama.

"We didn’t end the year very well.  We had a lot of turnovers, including 7-against Wahama," said Sawyer. "I just hope the kids can get over these two losses they were pretty down.  We’re going to challenge them and hopefully get back to the way we were playing in the first half of the season."

Sawyer says they’ll continue to rely heavily on Cameron Jones.  He says quarterback Levi Jordan has struggled, but he hopes he’ll get back on track for Friday night.


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