To me, it’s always nice when the biggest game in the area isn’t at the big school level. Nothing against the big schools, but they usually play at the nicest venues and in front of the biggest crowds on a week-to-week basis. Every once in awhile, it’s nice to see a spotlight thrust upon the kids who just happen to attend school in a lesser-populated area, but work just as hard to be ready week-in and week-out for whatever opponents they’re slated to face. With the battle of unbeatens this week in Ravenswood, the medium-sized schools certainly draw the well-deserved spotlight. Here is this week’s slate…all games Friday at 7:30, except where noted:
Class AA No. 6 Ritchie County (4-0) at Class AA No. 3 Ravenswood (4-0)
In one of the most anticipated games in years for Ritchie County faithful, the Ritchie County Rebels hit the road for what will be undoubtedly their biggest test of the early season when they take on the Ravenswood Red Devils in a battle of Little Kanawha Conference unbeatens. With a bye week last week, first-year Ritchie County head coach Mike Dawson said his team spent the extra time working on the basics – with heavy emphasis on tackling. They’ll be facing a Red Devils team that will require the extra effort because with Ravenswood’s speed, you might not get a second chance to finish a tackle after the initial hit. Coming off a bye week, Ravenswood easily handled winless Tyler Consolidated by a 40-7 score to earn the program’s 500th all-time win. The Red Devils employed a balanced rushing attack that saw them tally 200 yards. Quarterback Dustin Derito ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for a third while Jeremy Lawrence ran for two more. Lawrence may be hampered this week though due to an elbow injury that is being further evaluated. The Rebels have two solid running backs in Darrenger Goff and Reno Jackson and a quarterback in Alex Lipscomb that was thrust into action during the team’s first game because of an injury to the team’s starter. Under Dawson’s tutelage, Lipscomb – who saw few snaps in preseason workouts – has successfully managed to guide the Rebels to a 4-0 mark without throwing an interception.
Ritchie County entered the season with a 12-88 record in the last decade and as a result, many have labeled this Rebels team as a “Cinderella” bunch. And Dawson knows that many in the state will gauge the success of his team, in large part, based on this week’s result. But keep this in mind when trying to get a read on these Rebels, not just this week but for the rest of the season: Don’t discount the success this team has already enjoyed this year, no matter what happens over the final six games. Attitudes have been changed in Ritchie County and Dawson knows there’s still work to do. Aside from this clash, the Rebels still have contests remaining against Williamstown and Roane County – LKC teams that are ranked in the state. But the thing that this week’s opponent, Ravenswood, has in common with Williamstown and Roane County is that all three are established programs, built to see success on a year-to-year basis. That’s a level that Dawson is still trying to reach in Ritchie County. Even so, Red Devils head coach Dick Sturm is experienced enough to know that even when a team is in the process of rebuilding a program after years of decay, an unbeaten record is not to be ignored. Expect Ritchie to come out and aim hard at the target firmly planted on Ravenswood’s back. Fans can hear this game locally on V96 Radio (96.9 FM) or online at www.v969radio.net.
Class AAA No. 6 Parkersburg (4-1) at Riverside (2-2)
Perhaps it’s fitting that Parkersburg High School is located just a few blocks away from a hospital, because the Big Reds locker room currently resembles a M.A.S.H unit. With injuries hitting Don Reeves’s squad in a major way, the Big Reds mentor faces a two-part problem; operating in a way that prevents injuries during practice or reduces their chances of happening and finding replacements for the walking wounded. With senior running back Chad Collins already done for the year with a torn ACL, his primary replacement Adam Lindamood is also nursing a knee injury and his status is uncertain this week. Name a position and it seems like Parkersburg has an injury there. On top of that, they open a stretch this week that sees the Big Reds on the road for three of their final five games – including three of the next four weeks. In Lindamood’s absence, Chandler Hamilton stepped up and carried the ball for 77 yards and a pair of scores. Riverside is coming off a bye week after their 31-6 home win against Winfield two weeks ago. With games against Capital, George Washington and Woodrow Wilson remaining, Riverside is in big need of a big effort this week against the Big Reds. A wounded Parkersburg team may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time against a Riverside ballclub that is looking for a win in a make-or-break game.
Ripley (2-3) at Class AA No. 12 Roane County (3-1)
Roane County’s Dylan Cottrell garnered plenty of attention statewide for his efforts in last week’s 41-21 Raiders win over Braxton County. That’ll happen when you rack up nearly 400 all-purpose yards and score five touchdowns, nearly hitting for the figurative cycle in terms of how those touchdowns were amassed. Cottrell returned a punt 67 yards for a score, ran for two touchdowns, threw for one and caught a fifth. This week, the Raiders step up a class to host AAA Ripley – two schools separated by roughly 30 miles. It won’t be an easy test for a Vikings team that was ripped at home last week in a 53-17 loss to fifth-ranked Woodrow Wilson. For the Vikings, Tyler Casto threw for a pair of touchdowns in a game Ripley trailed by just five points at the half before the Eagles offense took flight, scoring touchdowns on their first four second half drives. The Vikings allowed a whopping 560 total yards of offense in that game, including 484 rushing yards. Against a team like the Raiders, who are flush with running threats, this is an issue Ripley needs to address this week if they want to get past Roane County.
Class A No. 2 Williamstown (4-0) at St. Marys (1-3)
Let’s quickly borrow a page from Sophia Petrillo of television’s The Golden Girls, who would often tell stories from the past in dramatic and detailed fashion. Ready? Picture it: Fall 1999. The SEGA Dreamcast has just been released. The world population hits six billion. TLC’s “Unpretty” and Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” were atop Billboard’s Hot 100 List. And the St. Marys Blue Devils picked up a 20-16 win over the Williamstown Yellowjackets. Since then, SEGA has fallen by the wayside in favor of other gaming consoles, a lot more people have entered the world and Mariah Carey has put out a few more hits and married Nick Cannon. But the St. Marys Blue Devils haven’t defeated Williamstown since. And now, they need a win over the unbeaten Yellowjackets or else they are on serious thin ice for the rest of the season. There are winnable games left for the Blue Devils, but they still have a very tough Ravenswood team left on the schedule. If the Blue Devils are to make a run for the playoffs, they’ll need to pick off either Williamstown or Ravenswood. And with a bye week coming into this year’s game against the Yellowjackets, you’d have to think the Blue Devils are keying in on Williamstown even more this year than in the past. Williamstown is coming in off a blowout win against Calhoun County. Trey King ran for two touchdowns and caught another for a Yellowjackets team that racked up 341 yards of total offense in the win. Perhaps the best thing St. Marys has going for them – other than the fact they have absolutely nothing to lose – is the fact that Williamstown hasn’t been tested in their four wins this season. The Yellowjackets’ average margin of victory is a stunning 45.5 points. Even so, it’ll still take a total team effort for the Blue Devils to get their season back on track with a win against Williamstown. Fans can hear this game locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) or online at www.literock93r.com.
Class A No. 16 Doddridge County (3-2) at Parkersburg Catholic (2-3) – Saturday 7:30
Doddridge County quarterback Corey Aichele had a pretty good game last week in the Bulldogs’ 51-18 win over Gilmer County – and it only took him a quarter to do it. Aichele ran for five touchdowns last week against the Titans – all coming in the first quarter and all coming on runs of 25 yards or more. The touchdowns came on Aichele’s only five carries of the game as Aichele racked up nearly half of the team’s 422 ground yards. This week, the Aichele show hits the turf of Parkersburg’s Stadium Field as Doddridge County takes on a Parkersburg Catholic team that was shut out for the first time this year in a 21-0 loss to Wirt County. The Crusaders had several sustained drives late in the contest, but couldn’t pull the trigger on a score. Defensively, two of the three touchdowns Parkersburg Catholic allowed came through the air while the other was on the ground for a Wirt County team that played without one of their best running backs. Parkersburg Catholic will need to do what they can to contain the multi-talented Aichele if they are to get the win they need to get back to .500.
Warren Local, Ohio (3-2) at Parkersburg South (2-2)
For Parkersburg South head coach Jon Bolen, last week’s 21-3 win over University had to carry a sense of vindication with it. Playing without suspended running back Jordan Quiocho – a suspension that was very unpopular with the Patriots’ coaching staff – Parkersburg South got two touchdown runs from Jessiah Fickieson and another from Braxton Johnson while limiting the Hawks to just a first quarter field goal. The Patriots host a Warren Local squad that’s dropped two of their last three games – all at home –with the latest coming in a 42-17 setback to unbeaten Jackson. Warren will be hungry for a win because they know the front half of their schedule was the toughest; three of their remaining five games are against teams that are currently winless. The Patriots are also in search of a big win as they head into their Crosstown Showdown game next week against Parkersburg. This one should be a hard-fought contest on the Southside.
Paden City (2-2) at Cameron (2-3)
Paden City celebrated homecoming in a big way with a 60-0 win last week against Hundred. Taylor Still ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns and as a team, the Wildcats racked up over 400 total yards of offense. The Wildcats have won back-to-back contests while this week’s opponent – the Cameron Dragons – is headed in the opposite direction. Cameron has lost two straight, dropping a 34-7 decision last week to Weirton Madonna. The Dragons have been held to a single touchdown in each of their three losses while Paden City’s offense is feeling frisky in back-to-back wins. The Wildcats have scored 107 points in victories against Gilmer County and Hundred and have surrendered just six points. The Dragons could be running into a Paden City team that’s starting to come together at the right time.
Calhoun County (1-4) at South Harrison (2-2)