Kanawha Valley Report



The marquee matchup this Friday night in the Kanawha Valley pits two evenly matched teams with explosive potential and undefeated records on the line.   A packed house is expected at Redskins Stadium as No. 3 Hurricane hosts No. 4 George Washington.

"It certainly is a big game, but it’s not going to be a make or break game for either one of us," said GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. "But it certainly is a game you want to win and you get a chance to show what you got against a quality opponent."

The hype and electric atmosphere expected to surround the game is a relished opportunity many high school players don’t get to experience.

"Truthfully we’ve been kind of lucky.  The last eight years we’ve been through this five or six times where we had undefeated team battling an undefeated team," said Hurricane Coach Willis May. "Man, it makes for a god game and we love these situations.  To be honest, though, we haven’t gotten one of these yet.  That bothers us and we want to change that."

Both teams feature extreme speed.  George Washington’s Ryan Switzer and Malique Hampton blaze the trail for the Patriots.   Hurricane’s Ben Fletcher, Steven Handley, and Derek Shahan are the lighting for the Redskins.   Each team features a bruising fullback to clear the way.  For GW, it’s Dustin Crouser; for Hurricane, it’s Nick Rice. Both teams feature first-year quarterbacks who’ve played well and improved with each game.   GW’s Trevor Bell is a junior and was five-of-six passing against St. Albans last week with three touchdown passes.  Hurricane counters with sophomore Austin Hensley who has a rocket arm, but is also a threat to tuck and run to can add to a stable of running backs which includes Handley, Shahan, Dylan Hurd and Zack Pate.   Finally, each team features a physical offensive and defensive line, which could prove to be where this game is won and lost once it’s all said and done Friday night.

Get there early or this one, seats and even standing room may be at a premium on Friday night.

No. 7 CAPITAL (2-0) VS. PRINCETON (2-1)   

John Carpenter’s Cougars have quietly played their way into the top-ten.  But, the Cougars could be tested this week with their first road game of the season and moreover, their first game against a team with any victories.  Capital defeated Greenbrier East which is now 0-3 and St. Albans which is likewise 0-3.  They were open a week ago.


The game features two teams who are 1-2 and desperately need a win.  Cabell Midland is riding the strength of a victory over Riverside a week ago, their first of the year.  South Charleston will try to overcome a loss to Spring Valley in a game where they played lights out in the first half, but faltered late.

"We’ve got to quit giving up the big play," said Coach John Messinger. "Going into Cabell Midland we’ve got to do two things.  We’ve got to get those third down stops and create some three-and-outs.  Secondly, we’ve got to improve our special teams play."

Messinger believes he still has a team which can make a run at the playoffs.  South Charleston, with a very young squad, has set making the playoffs as the season goal at this point. 

"We do realize how critical a football game this is for us," he said.

NITRO (0-3) VS. ST. ALBANS (0-3) 

Separated by only the Kanawha River, this series known as "The Battle of the Bridge" has seen some storied matchup.  The most recent was 2007 when the matchup was staged twice, once in the regular season and second in the playoffs.  St. Albans prevailed that night in one of the wildest games in the history of the series. 

This year, the battle won’t be nearly as epic, but it will be extremely meaningful with both teams struggling to find a boost. 

Nitro is beset with injuries and defections costing them three ball games including a loss to then-winless Ripley and to Class AA foe Poca. 

St. Albans showed the ability to move the football in a third straight game last Friday against George Washington, but has struggled to finish drives.  

"When you control the ball, you have to score.  We’ve struggled when we get into the red zone," said Derrick Christian. "If you don’t put points on the board and the other team has a quick strike offense, you can find yourself behind really fast."

As much assize and strength are St. Albans’ asset, their greatest area of inconsistency is the defensive secondary where Nitro loves to attack with Ethan Clark and Chris Moody.

"We’ve been working on a lot of pass skeleton and team pass defense," said Christian. "They have two kids who can throw the football and it’s tough to defend."

Other matchups in the Region Friday night:

Ripley at Lincoln County

Winfield at Riverside

Spring Valley at Woodrow Wilson

Parkersburg at Huntington

Johnson Central, KY at Logan

Tolsia at Herbert Hoover

Chapmanville at Poca

Sissonville at Scott

Greenbrier East and Buffalo have open dates this weekend.


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