North-Central Report: Week 10

University (8-1) at Morgantown (6-2)

This has been, for the most part, a one way rivalry over the past dozen years as Morgantown has won 11 of the last 12 regular season matchups between the two schools. The Mohigans’ current winning streak in the series is at four dating back to 2007, when the Hawks beat their rivals twice en route to a place in the Class-AAA semifinals.

“They will be the top dog until we beat them,” said UHS coach John Kelley. “As long as they continue to beat us, they can claim they are superior. That’s the only mind set I want our players to have. We’ve told them, If you are tired of that and you want to change that, then go out and beat them.”

Kelley expects a ground-and-pound game plan from Morgantown, behind a Mohigans’ offensive line that averages 261 pounds per player.

“That line is huge and they block really well,” Kelley said. “They block first level, second level. They just continue to block. They’ll run behind (tackle) Adam White when the money is on the line because he’s just a big time football player.

“Fullback (Jalen) Thomas is another key,” said Kelley. “He just knocks people (down.) He is the reason for running success. This guy goes through and just clocks people.”

The carries for Morgantown are split between junior Chazzy Thomas (1,396 yards and 20 touchdowns), senior Jalen Thomas (450 yards and four touchdowns) and senior Alex Weidman (340 yards, six touchdowns, 9.7 yards per carry).

Morgantown’s strengths are similar on defense as the front four of Andre Collins, Taylor Ortiz, Evan Greene and Stone Wolfley have combined for 12 sacks. Middle linebacker Jalen Thomas is the leading tackler on the team with 85. Outside linebacker Jordan Malone has added five sacks.

“Thomas leads that unit as well,” Kelley said. “They don’t make mistakes. They play their positions and know their responsibilities. They are very aggressive on defense and they fly to the football.”

That MHS defense will be tested by a University offense that has expanded as the season has moved along.

“They are multiple,” MHS coach John Bowers said of the Hawks offense. “They do a lot of things. They have play makers and exceptional athletes.”

Receivers Deion Cunningham, Jack Armstrong and Tony Richardson have combined for 12 touchdowns. Senior Chance Michael is the leading rusher for UHS with 606 yards and six touchdowns. Junior quarterback Travis Renner missed most of two games with a knee injury, but he returned to throw for a career high 173 yards in 59-0 win over Preston last week.
University’s offense was enhanced by the return over senior Tim Kocher to the lineup last week. Kocher had left the program prior to the start of the season to play football in New Jersey. He returned to school at UHS last week in time to score his first touchdown of the season. Kocher had 597 yards last year as a junior to rank second on the team in rushing.

One advantage University could have in a close game is with field goal kicker Billy Kinney. Kinney is 6-7 in field goal attempts including a 3-3 mark on kicks of 40+ yardage. Morgantown has yet to attempt a field goal this year.

Bowers believes that if his team can have a turnover free game and keep sound positioning on defense, they should be fine.

“We don’t do anything crazy,” Bowers said. “We do what we do. We’ll try to establish the run and throw it when we have to. We’re not going to change a whole lot.”

Kelley believes his team has closed the gap as MHS has won the last two games in the series by a combined score of 76-33.

“I definitely think this year is a possibility,” the optimistic Kelley said. “I think our talent level is every bit as equal to theirs. The only disadvantage is that we have to go (to Pony Lewis Field) to play them.”

Bridgeport (6-2) at Fairmont Senior (4-4)

Fairmont Senior has earned back to back road wins over Lincoln and Grafton as it tries to claim a playoff spot. The Polar Bears should be healthier for the final two games of the year at home against Bridgeport and East Fairmont. Quarterback Matt Robbins is expected to be back for this one as he missed last week’s 41-20 victory over Grafton with an injured ankle. RB/LB Ryder Skarzinski is also expected to be back after missing the second half of last week’s game. The Polar Bears largely kept it on the ground last week as they rushed for 395 yards.

Bridgeport is coming off an extremely rare poor performance. The Indians dropped a 25-0 decision at Keyser in a game Bridgeport had just two first downs and 39 yards on 33 plays.

Clay-Battelle (8-0) at Notre Dame (3-5)

The Cee-Bees are coming off a bye week as they’ll try and win road games at Notre Dame at Madonna to complete a perfect regular season. Clay-Battelle played its final game at its current stadium two weeks ago as renovations began immediately following the game. The Cee-Bees will have a brand new facility next year with field turf, new bleachers and a new press box. Clay-Battelle has played post season games in recent seasons at both North Marion and University High.

The Irish have fallen on hard times as they take a five game losing streak into the final two games against unbeaten teams. Notre Dame will host Clay-Battelle this week and Tucker County next week. Those teams are a combined 16-0.

Lewis County (6-2) at Liberty (3-5)

The Minutemen’s playoff push continues as Lewis County goes for its sixth consecutive win. Last time out, Lewis County got a spark of its defense to win 37-19 at Oak Hill. Jon Jerden returned a fumble 67-yards for a touchdown to get the Minutemen on the board. Skylar Carleton would seal the game late with an interception. In between those big plays, Carleton would haul in five receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown to lead the Lewis County offense. Lewis County now has back to back road games to close the season at Liberty this week and at Elkins next week.

Liberty is playing better down the stretch following an 0-4 start. The Mountaineers have won two in a row and three of their last four.

Robert C. Byrd (8-1) at Scott (7-1)

RCB closes the regular season with a road trip to Scott in a game that has huge seeding implications in Class-AA. RCB is currently 5th in the SSAC rankings with Scott 6th.

RCB had nine runners combine for 429 yards and five touchdowns during a 52-20 victory at Buckhannon-Upshure last week . It was the fifth straight win for the Eagles. Tre Cox led the way with 170 yards and a score. Ben D’Annunzio ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns while also completing a pair of passes for 28 yards.

Scott bounced back from a loss to Wayne by beating Herbert Hoover 40-7 last week.

East Fairmont (2-6) at Philip Barbour (5-4)

The Colts take a two game winning streak into their regular season finale as they try to secure a playoff spot. Last week, Philip Barbour jumped out to a big, early lead as Dillon Newman had 214 yards of total offense leading the Colts to a 49-12 win over Notre Dame. Newman rushed for 153 yards and threw for 61.
Other games this week:

Buckhannon-Upshur (1-8) at Preston (2-6)

Grafton (2-6) at North Marion (1-8)

South Harrison (3-5) at Lincoln (1-7)

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