Morgantown (6-2) at University (5-4)
Playoff seeding is usually at stake when the Hawks and Mohigans meet at the end of the season. This year, one of the teams is playing just to get into the post season.
"They’ve got to win to get in," Morgantown coach John Bowers pointed out. "It would be great for our kids to keep them out of the playoffs in this cross town rivalry game.
"We’ve got a tremendous amount respect for their program, coaching staff and players," Bowers continued. "So it should be a very good game."
Morgantown moves the ball on the ground. The Mohigans average 285 yards rushing per game. And it’s done by committee as MHS has had five different players rush for 100 yards or more in a single game.
"That just tells you that when they have three guys in the backfield they are all three very good backs," said University coach John Kelley. "They have six guys they can use which makes them a much better team. They can mix and match and replace them and change them around any way they want."
Kelley says the offensive line makes MHS go.
"I think this might be the biggest line for them that we’ve faced and Dan Berry is the keystone to that line," Kelley said of Morgantown’s senior center. "He showed a lot of unselfishness by moving back to center and at 300 pounds he is very mobile. The can run right at you when they need to and they are still can get the edge very, very quickly."
Morgantown’s speediest back is also the leading rusher. Sophomore Chazzy Thomas leads the team with 452 yards and four touchdowns.
Morgantown has outscored its last four opponents by an average of 52-19 since a 2-2 start. The Mohigans lost early season games to No. 1 ranked Martinsburg and to Steubenville, Ohio both on the road.
University is playing its best on offense coming down the stretch. The Hawks have averaged 423 yards of total offense over the last four games going 3-1 during that span. UHS has expanded its offense to include sophomore receivers Jack Armstrong and John Moore who have combined for their first five varsity catches over the last three games. The Hawks also have three quarterbacks who can run the football. Senior starter Travis Marany has rushed for 458 yards and five touchdowns over the last four games. Sophomore backups Armstrong and Travis Renner have combined to average over ten yards per carry over the course of the season with eight touchdowns. All three quarterbacks have grown very effective at running the mid-line option.
"It’s worked for us recently," Kelley said. "We believe in the system and our guys have learned how to execute it.
"This game has a lot more meaning than it has had in recent years," Kelley said. "Usually we have a playoff spot wrapped up. this year we don’t. We’ve known for three weeks that we had to win out. We’ve taken care of the first two and now we have the biggest task.
"To get in, we have to win," Kelley concluded. "It’s as simple as that. That is our incentive and we don’t need any other incentive."
North Marion (5-3) at Elkins (7-2)
The Huskies are right back into the thick of the playoff race thanks to a five game winning streak.
"We are pleased with the winning streak and we are pleased with the improvements we’ve made on offense and defense," said North Marion coach Daran Hayes. "We scored a total of seven points in the first three games of the season. Even when we don’t score now we have been able to establish drives and help our defense out. Special teams play has improved as well."
Over the past four games, the North Marion defense has allowed an average of just over four points per game. But that defense could get its toughest test of the season this week as if faces the prolific single-wing run by Elkins.
"It’s a difficult offense to prepare for because you don’t see it and it’s hard for the scout team to run," Hayes says. "The misdirection poses a problem for use because we pursue to the football so hard."
Hayes says the Huskies have allowed over 100 yards rushing just one time this season.
"They are averaging about 250 yards (rushing) per game on the season and probably close to 300 yards per game recently," Hayes said. "They will throw a little bit out of it to try and keep you honest but they run it about 90% of the time.
"Elkins has a lot to play for. They’ve clinched a playoff spot but they can finish 8-2 and start the playoffs at home. That is very, very important.
"But it’s also important for us to maybe win one we’re not supposed to," Hayes said. "Our team winning a big game as an underdog is something that hasn’t happened since I’ve been head coach."
North Marion is gunning for its first playoff spot since 2002 when Hayes was a player for the Huskies.
Lewis County (4-5) at Robert C. Byrd (5-4)
The Eagles look to win their final regular season game and then hope that six wins will get them into the playoffs. RCB has welcomed quarterback Adam Secret back into the lineup from an injured wrist.
Eddie Vincent is ending his 5th season as head coach at Lewis County. A Vincent coached Lewis County team has yet to beat RCB.
"We have good games with them every year," Vincent said. "But we haven’t gotten them yet. They always seem to make key plays and win a close game against us. Secret is mostly responsible for that.
"He’s been our nemesis the last few years," Vincent said. "I’m going to be one of the guys that gets him a graduation card or something because he has made it tough on us the last three years. But we’ve got another chance to get him."
Lewis County will miss the playoffs for the first time in three years.
"We’ve got some very good character guys but this is probably the youngest team I’ve ever had. We start just two seniors–one on each side of the ball. We start six sophomores including three on the offensive line.
"The potential is there for us to be very good down the road," Vincent said.
Fairmont Senior (4-4) at Bridgeport (8-0)
The Polar Bears have to win their final two games to get into the playoffs. Fairmont, however, is reeling from its worst loss since 2002, a 64-14 loss at Wheeling Park. The Polar Bears were behind 14-0 after the Patriots had run just five plays. It was 42-7 at halftime. Fairmont Senior has the trip to Bridgeport this week and then the East/West game next week.
Bridgeport is coming off a bye week. The Indians have won four in a row in the series against Fairmont Senior. Bridgeport leads the all time series 22-10.
Liberty (5-4) at Grafton (6-2)
Grafton hit a glitch in the middle of the season losing to playoff teams Lincoln and Bridgeport back to back before bouncing back to beat Berkeley Springs last week.
"We’ve been very resilient," said Grafton coach Mark Yoho. "Our first three wins were all come from behind victories. All of those were important come from behind wins that helped build our confidence. We played well last week to get back on the winning track."
Liberty can clinch a playoff spot with a win in this one.
"They would get plenty of bonus points to get into the playoffs if they beat us," Yoho said. "We know that and we know they are very capable of winning.
"They have a few experience players on the offensive line and they are getting very good quarterback play from Ty Noss."
Yoho is very confident that the defensive unit on his team can carry it into the playoffs and beyond.
"We are third in points allowed in AA," Yoho pointed out. " I think we are doing very well on that side of the ball and that is the strongest part of our team."
Lincoln (7-1) at South Harrison (3-5)
Lincoln continues to play very well and win close games. The Cougars have scored three straight wins over potential playoff teams Grafton, Ritchie County and Liberty. Lincoln has a very good shot at finishing at 9-1 as it will close its schedule with back to back games against Class A competition South Harrison and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame (2-6) at Clay-Battelle (7-1)
The Cee-Bees keep rolling as they won their 7th straight while recording their third consecutive shutout and the fifth shutout of the season 53-0 last week at Tygarts Valley. Clay-Battelle is on pace to host a playoff game for just the second time in school history if they can get to nine wins. The Cee-Bees close the regular season with home games against Notre Dame and Madonna teams who are a combined 7-9.
Preston (1-7) at Buckhannon-Upshur (1-8)
Buckhannon-Upshur earned its first win of the season last week as it beat East Fairmont 27-21. Sophomore Seth Cutright scored two touchdowns as he finished the game with 126 yards rushing. The Buccaneers snapped an eight game losing streak last week. Preston has a seven game losing streak heading into this week’s game.