Kanawha Valley Report

 

During recent times, the Kanawha Valley has served up its share of football to the rest of the state.   South Charleston visited Wheeling twice, yielding two state titles and one of those was against George Washington.   Before the Black Eagles run St. Albans rode to the Island only to lose to Parkersburg–but they got there with a victory over arch rival Nitro in the semi-finals.  A year earlier, the Wildcats lost the heartbreaker to Morgantown in overtime in the Class AAA state title game. 

This year, the ranks of football in the Charleston area have been a measure of the haves and have-nots.    Vaunted South Charleston’s playoff rein ended in 2011 when the Black Eagles finished 5-5.   They’ve seemingly been replaced in a position of dominance by G-W who completed a perfect season at 10-0, but even the efforts of Ryan Switzer and company could only gain the Patriots a #3 ranking in the final pole. 

#3 GEORGE WASHINGTON (10-0) VS. #14 SPRING VALLEY (6-4)

The Patriots enter the playoffs against a familiar opponent.  GW beat the Timberwolves in an October 7th matchup 39-20 at the Wolf Den.  This time Brad Dingess must bring his young squad into Steve Edwards Senior Field for a Friday night matchup.

"Maybe I can convince Coach Edwards to sit Ryan Switzer out of this one," laughed Dingess. "No, we’re really happy with where we are.  We have some young kids and it’s good to at least get one more week of practice.  Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment and we’re happy."

George Washington may be playing its best football of the year just as the stretch run begins.   The Patriots put together a near perfect performance on the road against Parkersburg last Friday night.  It was a game in which Switzer ran wild for six touchdowns on offense and a seventh on special teams.   

The special teams and penalty issues had been the biggest problems for GW this season.  Coach Steve Edwards was very pleased to see corrections in both areas a week ago, but it taking nothing for granted. 

An unexpected first round loss to Brooke in 2010 is never far from the minds of the GW players, nor the lips of the Patriots’ coach.

"We remind them about it constantly," said Edwards of the bitter loss. "We want them to remember how it feels to be asked to leave a party when you’re not ready to go."

 

#6 ELKINS (8-2) VS. #11 HURRICANE (7-3) 

Elkins Coach Greg Hott tells the story of an assistant coach who bought a book in the airport on the way to WVU’s bowl game last December. The book was a study of the single-wing offense.   He returned to Randolph County and loaned the book to Hott who became equally excited and implemented the new offense into the Tigers’ system.

"I didn’t have very many returning linemen and we didn’t know what we were going to do because we’ve always been a wing-T team and you have to have a good line," said Hott. "When June practice came around the kids really bought into it and the kids started learning it quickly and we got excited.   I don’t know that any team in West Virginia right now runs it."

The obscure, throwback formation featuring an unbalanced offensive line and no quarterback can be confusing.  Hott is counting on that as he awaits the matchup with the Redskins Saturday afternoon in Buckhannon.   The Tigers also added a new defense, the 3-3 Stack, adopted from WVU in the off season.  Both have served them well for the year creating an 8-2 record and getting them back to the playoffs for only the fourth time in school history.   It’s a brief history, since Elkins has never won a playoff game.

Hurricane has become a perennial visitor to the post-season.   Coach Willis May says playoff appearances are now completely expected around his program.   Hurricane’s challenge this week, more than the Elkins single-wing, may be overcoming themselves.   Two weeks ago, Hurricane was rolling and appeared headed for a 9-1 regular season finish and two home games in the playoffs.    The fortunes changed when a poor first half cost them the game on the road at Logan and a poor second half performance spoiled senior night at home against Cabell-Midland.  

Hurricane will try to break out of their funk against the Tigers.   May believes physical play and execution are the keys to victory. 

#5 EAST HARDY (9-0) VS. #12 BUFFALO (7-2)

Buffalo returns to the Class A playoffs for a second year and hopes to stick around a little longer this time.  A year ago, he Bison became the last team Matewan High School ever enjoyed victory over.   Coach Mike Sawyer says it was a sick feeling that nobody around their program wants to endure again.   

A couple of late losses for the Bison to Fayetteville and Wahama dropped their seeding, but Sawyer is glad to be back.

"You want to be in the playoffs.  We just want to play somebody," said Sawyer. "I think we’ve got the longest drive of anybody in single-A. We’re going to have to work on preparation, going up a day early and finding a place to practice.  It will be different, but we’ll have to work through that."

East Hardy returns to the playoffs, but it’s the first time they’ve enterd the post season undefeated.  Coach Chad Williams says the team and the community is excited.   

"It was a struggle the first couple of years," said Williams whose in his 5th season. "We started off 2-8, 3-7, 4-6 and then took off last year and made it to the second round." 

Williams is hoping the momentum will continue for East Hardy as Buffalo comes to town Saturday afternoon at 1:30. 

Other Regional Teams in the post season:

#16 Woodrow Wilson at #1 Martinsburg

#13 Parkersburg South at #4 Logan

#10 Wheeling Park at #10 Cabell Midland

#9 Parkersburg at #8 Huntington

 

 





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