Mid-Ohio Valley Report

Often times, the movies you see promoted on television this time of year just aren’t of the caliber that’ll generate Oscar buzz. A current example? The Adam Sandler movie that hits theaters next month where Sandler plays both the male lead and the twin sister of the male lead. To me, that looks like a horrendous mess of a good movie and a waste of about eight to ten bucks, depending on whatever theater you frequent. So the best thing to do? Rent a movie or dust off an old favorite and curl up on the couch during weeknight evenings this fall. Whether it’s a seasonal pick (Hocus Pocus), a classic (Gone With the Wind) or a movie that has incredible rewatchability (for me, that’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall), you’ll thank yourself later for saving yourself some money and a trip to the theater. And on Friday night? Check out one of these games…all of which, I give a two thumbs up!  Here is this week’s full slate…all games Friday at 7:30, except where noted:

Class AAA #14 Robert C. Byrd (5-3) at Class AAA #12 Parkersburg South (4-3)

Last summer in film brought us the sequel to the smash-hit movie, The Hangover. The Parkersburg South Patriots will need to hope that their game against Robert C. Byrd this week doesn’t resemble that sequel – The Hangover II – because last week’s effort against Brooke evoked the original. A week after shutting out their crosstown rivals, the Parkersburg South Patriots couldn’t do much offensively in a 12-10 loss to the struggling Brooke Bruins. The difference in the game happened in the third quarter when the Bruins – trailing 3-0 – returned the opening kickoff deep into South territory and then later in the quarter scored the first touchdowns on South’s defense in nearly a month. Special teams woes plagued the Patriots in the third quarter as they allowed a long kickoff return later in the quarter and gave Brooke a short field that set up their second touchdown following a short punt. Robert C. Byrd comes in off a win over Class AA Magnolia that all but sank Magnolia’s hopes for a return trip to Wheeling Island. At 5-3, RCB got off to a hot start with three straight wins but have now lost three of their last five. They’ll need to win out to ensure a playoff spot while the Patriots – who finished in 17th last season and just out of the playoff dance – will need to do the same. Parkersburg South has remaining contests against struggling Wheeling Park and John Marshall ballclubs – winnable games, but games that won’t do much for Parkersburg South in the points department. The Patriots will need to shore up their special teams issues and find a way to squeeze more points out of an offense that, despite a winning record, has averaged just under 17 points per game and hasn’t surpassed 21 since their season opener.

Ripley (3-5) at South Charleston (4-4)

The Ripley Vikings snapped a three-game losing streak with their first shutout of the year – a 22-0 whitewashing of St. Albans last week. For their final road test of the year, the Vikings draw a South Charleston team that brings an uncharacteristic .500 winning percentage into the season’s ninth week. After a 1-4 start to their season, the Black Eagles have won three straight, including wins in their last two games by identical 42-point margins. The Black Eagles draw Parkersburg next week in their final game, so their bleak playoff hopes depend on back-to-back wins in South Charleston’s last two games. Or to borrow a phrase from Smokey and the Bandit, the Black Eagles have a long way to go and a short time to get there. The Vikings have scored in double digits just five times this year and will need to generate the kind of offense they got last week if they want to stop a steamrolling South Charleston team that is currently setting themselves up to be a great trap game opponent next week for Parkersburg.

Clay County (2-5) at Class AA #12 Ravenswood (5-2)

Keeping with the movie theme from earlier, it isn’t quite The Curious Case of Benjamin Button…but something surely is amiss with the Ravenswood Red Devils. After running the table in their first five games, Ravenswood was shut out 37-0 by Point Pleasant last week and has now lost their last two contests by a combined total of 88-13. Nagging injuries have plagued Dick Sturm’s Red Devils but the health is getting better in Ravenswood and just in time for what should be a “get right” game against Clay County. The Panthers have been held to two touchdowns or fewer in all but one of their seven games this season – with their last game, a 44-15 victory over Sherman, standing as the lone exception. The key for Ravenswood will be getting back to fundamentals on defense and getting the running game in gear once again, both bread and butter principles of Sturm’s football teams. For the defense, it’ll be a matter of rebuilding the confidence of a unit that had allowed double digits just twice in their first five games of the season before the landslide of the last two weeks. For the running game, it’ll be a matter of reintegrating Jeremy Lawrence into the attack after Lawrence missed some time earlier this year with an elbow injury.

Tyler Consolidated (0-7) at Class AA #14 Ritchie County (5-2) (7:00 Friday)

Mike Dawson’s Ritchie County Rebels got back in the win column last week after back-to-back losses, picking up a 30-8 win over the Doddridge County Bulldogs. With games against likely playoff teams (Williamstown and Roane County) in each of the next two weeks, Ritchie County will likely need wins in two of their three remaining games to rejoin the playoff picture for the first time in over a decade. Dawson would be well-suited to echo the message of Kurt Russell’s character in Miracle – Hall of Fame hockey coach Herb Brooks – when he defiantly challenged his team with the line, “This is YOUR time!” prior to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” contest against the Soviet Union. The Rebels host Tyler Consolidated this week as they wrap up a three-game homestand during a stretch where they play four of their final five games at home. The Silver Knights scored their highest single-game total last week in a 39-16 loss to Braxton County last week. A young and struggling team, Tyler Consolidated has been shut out in four of their seven games this season. Ritchie County picked up their biggest scoring output in nearly a month in their victory last week and on what’s been a sloppy field, expect the Rebels to use their messy field to their advantage – getting off to a quick start because they know what parts of their own field offer the best traction for the offense. This was a strategy they employed against Lincoln, taking a 7-3 lead against the Cougars into the locker room at the half before falling 17-7. If the Rebels stick to basics and hang onto the football, they should be able to take care of business on Friday night. This game will air locally on WXCR Radio (92.3 FM).

Class AA #4 Roane County (6-1) at Herbert Hoover (2-5)

The Roane County Raiders picked up a 42-24 win last week in the Black Walnut Bowl over Man. With running back Nathan Reynolds playing the role of The Departed after suffering a knee injury in a win against Clay County, quarterback Dylan Cottrell stepped in again carried the load for the Raiders in the running game. Earning game MVP honors in the process, Cottrell accounted for five touchdowns – rushing for 171 yards and three scores, throwing a touchdown pass and receiving another. In another case of a team with a winning record needing to take care of business against a team with a losing record, the Raiders need to capitalize off a struggling Herbert Hoover team this week with Wirt County and Ritchie County looming in their final two weeks – neither game a cinch. Not to say that this week’s game is a cinch either though for Roane County as Herbert Hoover, though winners of just two games, has been held to single digits just once and has averaged a respectable 22 points per game this season. If the Raiders can get the running game going early on, expect good things out of Roane County this week. If not, they may not be Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they’ll certainly be the Raiders of the Lost Opportunity.

Class A #4 Wirt County (6-1) at Calhoun County (1-7)

Looking to bounce back from their first loss of the year, the Wirt County Tigers head to Mt. Zion to face the upstart Calhoun County Red Devils. A young team under first-year coach Michael Fitzwater, the Red Devils have taken their lumps this season – most recently last week in a 61-6 loss to Buffalo. Oddly enough, Buffalo came into that contest off their first loss of the season – against Wirt County. Not quite the Circle of Life, as you see in The Lion King, but you get the picture. Though they allowed 20 unanswered points in their 27-13 loss to Williamstown last week, the Tigers still boast one of the area’s best defenses. That’s bad news for a Red Devils team that has either been shutout or held to single digits in five of eight games this season. This will be a good chance, in all likelihood, for Wirt County to focus on some fundamentals before heading into postseason play. The Tigers turned the ball over three times last week against Williamstown and those turnovers led directly to 13 Yellowjackets points. For the Red Devils – a team that still has a long trip remaining in two weeks to finish their season against Moorefield – it’ll take more than True Grit and a gutsy effort to get the win on Friday. This game will air locally on V96 Radio (96.9 FM) and online at www.v969radio.net.

South Harrison (3-4) at St. Marys (3-4)

In essentially a Class A playoff elimination game, the South Harrison Hawks look to spoil Homecoming for a St. Marys Blue Devils team that has managed back-to-back wins after a 1-4 start to their season. In wins over Calhoun County and Gilmer County, the Blue Devils scored a combined 95 points – surpassing their total from their first five contests combined. St. Marys scored seven touchdowns in the first half against the Titans last week, with six different players (James Taylor, Noah Spitzer, David Gray, Cole White, Andrew Cosper and Jeremy Pratt) getting their names into the scoring column – and, subsequently, this column. South Harrison comes in off a shutout loss to cross-county rival Liberty and with a tough remaining schedule (Lincoln and Wirt County), the Hawks have a tough road ahead of them if a winning season is in the cards. If St. Marys can pull off the Homecoming win, they’ll go into road contests against Ravenswood and Doddridge County at 4-4 with a chance to break even or pull off a winning season after a bleak start. Blue Devils head coach Jodi Mote will have to find A Few Good Men to come through in the clutch if St. Marys is to finish the home portion of their season with their third straight win. They’ll also have to be able to defend South Harrison’s unique offensive attack, run the football with some consistency and finish drives – the last of which has been an issue at times this year for St. Marys. This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R and online at www.literock93r.com.

Beallsville, Ohio (6-2) at Paden City (3-4)

Paden City bounced back from two straight losses last Saturday to earn a 42-7 win over Bellaire St. John’s, Ohio. Brent Croasmun’s Wildcats will face a stiff challenge this week as Beallsville comes in as their sixth-best team in their region and off a win last week. Though Paden City is home for two of their final three games, the Wildcats finish the season against Valley (Wetzel) and Bishop Donahue. In short, two of their last three opponents boast winning records. Though they may be outmatched in those contests, expect the Wildcats to fight with all the heart of Norman Dale’s squad in Hoosiers.

Other Games:

Doddridge County (3-5) at Tucker County (3-4)

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