Bridgeport (3-0) at Robert C. Byrd (3-0)
"This is one of the those games on the schedule that gets the circle around it," admitted Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner. "There is a lot more emotion involved in this game."
So sets the tone for the 2011 edition of the Bridgeport/RCB series.
"It still is a very fun game to coach and play in," Nicewarner admitted.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the rivalry is that the two teams are different in just about every facet.
Bridgeport has had success for decades with their unique power running game. Sophomore Anthony Bonamico is the latest to take advantage of all the hard work put fourth by the offensive line and rest of the blockers. Bonamico had 177 yards on the ground in a Bridgeport win over Wheeling Park last week.
RCB, meanwhile, is fueled by the passing exploits of veteran quarterback Adam Secret.
"RCB is going to throw the ball around and we are going to run it," Nicewarner said. "It usually comes down to who fumbles it or throws that interception to decide the game."
And as far as overcoming Secret and the RCB offense?
"You have to mix up your blitzes, get to him some and disrupt his timing," Nicewarner said. "This is generally the first spread team we play so it’s a big week of practice. You have to get used to the formations and get used to the motion.
"It’s really just playing our assignments," Nicewarner said. "It’s not about beating one guy or focusing on our guy. Our guys just have to do their jobs."
And how about the 3-0 start for the Indians?
"We’ve got some players back and that’s quiet a bit different from last year," Nicewarner said. "We were expected to come in this year and hit the ground running. That’s what we’ve done so far.
"We got a test vs. Wheeling Park when we were down two scores at halftime," added Nicewarner. "We reacted to that adversity. At 3-0, I am really pleased with the way things are going."
Robert C. Byrd won last year’s game 35-24 at Bridgeport.
Petersburg (1-2) at Lincoln (3-0)
Lincoln has matched its win total for the entire 2010 season in just three weeks.
"Our kids worked hard in the off season to improve themselves both physically and mentally and that has really showed early," said Lincoln coach Robert Herrod. "And we’ve come from behind two weeks in a row. We were down 21-7 (to Philip Barbour) two weeks ago and we were behind 16-0 (against Tucker County) last week.
"I think it speaks to their belief and their understanding and maturity not to panic when things go wrong," Herrod continued. "Our players believe we can win. Our good senior leadership has instilled that in the team. There are going to be ups and downs in games and we just have to stay in it until the offense going and the defense figured out. When we do that, we are kind of hard to stop."
Lincoln is a big team with solid line play on both sides.
"Our tackles (seniors Frank Wright and Jason McDougal) are both 6-4," Herrod said. "One is 262 and the other is 275. Our nose guard (Zack Phillips) is 330. And those guys are athletic and can run a little bit."
Behind that line, senior Tyler Benton is leading the area in rushing over the first few weeks of the season.
"We are used to teams trying to jam the box against us to try and shut the run game down," Herrod said. "But we can also put it up top if that is the case. We are comfortable in doing that.
"The key for us this week is just trying to get ourselves better," Herrod continued. "We need to do what we do and try and make other teams stop us."
University (2-1) at Wheeling Park (0-2)
University played its first Two Rivers Athletic Conference game last week as it suffered its first loss of the season at Brooke.
"We did not tackle well and we gave up big yards to (Brooke fullback) Tim Faulkner," admitted Hawks coach John Kelley. "I hope nobody breaks their leg jumping off the band wagon because we will be back."
The Hawks couldn’t overcome four turnovers in the game in losing 27-14.
"The missing ingredient for us so far is the passing game," Kelley said. "We just haven’t got it going yet."
The Hawks have averaged 245 rushing yards per game through the first three contests. They didn’t need to throw it much in the first two weeks as they had leads the entire game against North Marion and East Fairmont. Last week, senior quarterback Travis Maraney was 7-12 for 39 yards.
"It’s not any one thing," Kelley said about the pass game. "We just need it to come together . We are do a break out game.
"We just need that passing game to open things up a little bit and the whole package will be there."
Wheeling Park has lost two close games in which the Patriots had the lead both times. Wheeling Central quarterback Lee Peluchette leads the offense with 347 yards passing and three touchdowns. Vondell Bell and Boo Lathon are the top targets as they have combined to average nearly 16 yards per catch on 15 receptions.
"They are a snake bitten football team," Kelley said of Park. "They could very well be 2-0. They’ve had a week off so I’m sure they have savored that. They should be healthy and ready to go.
"We need a signature victory," Kelley added. "I thought we could get one last week but we need to get one soon if we hope to be a playoff football team."
Morgantown (2-1) at Martinsburg (3-0)
Quarteback Mark Johnson threw a pair of touchdown passes and Evan Hamilton rushed for two scores as MHS won a Two Rivers Athletic Conference game at Parkersburg South. This tough early season schedule continues for the Mohigans as they make their third long road trip of the season to play the defending AAA state champs.
East Fairmont (1-2) at Lewis County (1-2)
East Fairmont lost for the third consecutive year to Nicholas County last week. It was a 16-13 overtime loss as the Bees played their best defensive game of the season in the loss. Now it’s another contest against a team struggling to get wins.
Lewis County scored first and the Minutemen scored last against rival Bridgeport. Unfortunately, The Indians scored six touchdowns in between to win 42-10.
Buckhannon-Upshure (0-3) at North Marion (0-3)
North Marion has nothing to show for three solid defensive efforts. Last week, the Huskies allowed just 167 yards while forcing four turnovers against an Robert C. Byrd team that had scored 91 points in the first two weeks. The North Marion offense has been held off the scoreboard twice in three weeks. Devin Miller rushed for 90 yards last week, but the Huskies have completed just five passes all season.
Clay-Battelle (1-1) at Hundred (0-3)
Cee-Bees coach Ryan Wilson earned his 100th career coaching victory last week as Clay-Battelle beat Paden City 51-14. The Cee-Bees got another very strong effort from quarterback Tristan Haught who threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
Elkins (2-1) at Preston (1-1)
Elkins rolled up 370 yards on the ground in beating rival Buckhannon-Upshure last week. Quarterback Cody Knavenshue rushed for 130 yards and threw for 88 while producing three touchdowns.
Preston turned the ball over five times in a 36-19 loss to Fairmont Senior at home last week.
Jefferson (0-3) at Fairmont Senior (2-1)
Fairmont Senior marched 80 yards on the opening drive of the game for a touchdown as it had the lead the entire way while beating Preston for a 12th consecutive time last week.
The Polar Bear trio of Trevor Malnick, Noah Harmon and Trevor Link combined for 312 yards rushing. That is the most by three FSHS runners since 2007.
Other games this week:
Grafton (3-0) at Weir (0-3)
Philip Barbour (0-3) at Liberty (2-1)