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Kanawha Valley Report: Week Nine

High school football teams are into the home stretch of the regular season. Some are fairly assured of their playoff position, others are fairly sure they don’t have any future beyond the regular season. Several Kanawha Valley teams will see their performance in the next three weeks dictate their fortunes.

George Washington vs. Capital
George Washington is a near lock for the postseason, while Capital has its back pinned against the wall. The Cougars improved their performance a week ago against top ranked Cabell Midland, putting a scare into the Knights. However, mistakes continue to plague the young Capital squad and a touchdown called back on a penalty proved to be the difference in the game.

“We’re still making some youthful mistakes we need to get ironed out,” said head coach John Carpenter.

Mistakes are one obstacle to overcome, but George Washington running back Ryan Switzer is clearly another. Capital’s advantage over other teams who’ve been mowed down by the Patriots is their ability to run.

“We just don’t want to get in a track meet where we have to run him down,” Carpenter said. “We’d like to bottle him up at the line of scrimmage. Our line needs to play better and our defense has been tough all year. Hopefully that will continue and we’ll score a few more points on offense.”

The game is a cross-town rivalry, and one GW head coach Steve Edwards Junior knows has been circled on the calendar by everybody. He’s pleased, however, that the focus by his team each and every week has been solid.

“I hope we continue to do that. We are improving every week, but still have a lot of improvement to do,” he said. “Our kids have been very focused and doing a good job on Friday night. If we can continue to do that we give ourselves an opportunity to be successful.”

There’s no question Switzer has been the difference maker for the Patriots. The only game they lost, he didn’t play. The only other game they were threatened, he was out for the second half. The 2011 Kennedy Award winner continues to make a strong bid to earn the honor for a second straight year. During the last five weeks he’s compiled 1,400 yards rushing.

The two teams meet Friday night at Laidly Field/University of Charleston Stadium.

Spring Valley vs. Hurricane
It’s gut check time for both of these programs. Each is desperately in need of victories in the next three weeks to make the top 16.

The Timberwolves are 4-3, with Hurricane, Nitro, and Winfield all left on the schedule. The Redskins, meanwhile, are 5-2 and facing a far taller order, facing the Timberwolves Friday night, then Logan and Cabell Midland to close out the season.

“That’s the good and bad about playing in the MSAC,” said head coach Jeremy Taylor. “You’ve always got a different type of team and it seems like every week teams get tougher.”

Hurricane has history on its side. During recent years, they’ve found a way to beat Spring Valley even in years when the Timberwolves would have the upper hand going into the contest. Taylor says his team will need to bare down this Friday night to keep that string alive.

“If our offensive line can come through and we can play some sound defense, we’re always going to have a chance,” he said. “The key is us being able to run the ball and then playing sound defense.”

Hurricane will have to keep a sharp eye on Elijah Wellman. Taylor says the senior, who’s committed to play at WVU, is a threat to score anytime he’s on the field.

The two teams will lock horns at Redskins Stadium Friday night.

South Charleston at Ripley
John Messenger’s Black Eagle squad is one of those still on the bubble and needing to win out to make the postseason.

However, South Charleston hung 70 on Nitro last Friday night and shows no signs of slowing down. Freshman quarterback Kentre Grier has amassed an impressive passing game through four games as a starter.

“Our offensive coordinator, Coach Mays, has done a great job with this kid to get him to understand the concepts when it comes to reading the defense,” Messenger said. “He’s learning form a good guy early and he’s learning what it takes to be successful.”

Messenger fears his young defense will be thrown into fits Friday night by the Vikings.

“It’s tough to watch those guys on film because they throw so many formations at you,” he said. “We throw those formations up on a board in our meeting–and next thing you know we’ve got to go to another board. They do a lot of the same things out of those formations, but when they throw it up it’s something different.”

Messenger expects a rough and physical game and hopes his offense can spend plenty of time on the field.

South Charleston is 5-3, but carries a four-game winning streak into the game. Ripley and Parkersburg, both on the road, are their final games of the regular season.

Fayetteville vs. Buffalo
Coach Mike Sawyer’s squad from Putnam County continues to find ways to win. The Bison’s only blemish on the season was a road game against Class AA Poca. Buffalo is 6-1 as they welcome the Pirates to Bison Stadium Friday night.

Buffalo rides a five game winning streak, which includes a victory over Greenbrier West. Buffalo’s offense continues to put up impressive numbers under the guidance of senior signal caller Levi Jordan. Buffalo has scored 23 or more points in every game, with the exception of Poca.

Fayetteville is winless coming into Friday night’s game with an 0-7 record.

Other games Friday night in the Kanahwa Valley:

Winfield at Nitro

Woodrow Wilson at Riverside

St. Albans at Lincoln County

Herbert Hoover at Roane County

Poca at Wayne

Sherman at Sissonville

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