Morgantown (8-1) at University (8-1)
The Hawks take a five game winning streak into the annual cross town showdown with Morgantown. The Hawks broke open a close game with three third quarter touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Preston last week. Senior quarterback Travis Renner is playing at a high level heading into the MoHawk Bowl.
“His ability is a nightmare for opposing coaches and defending players to prepare for,” said UHS coach John Kelley of his quarterback. “He’s been using his wheels to keep plays alive and he is really throwing the ball well.”
Renner’s signature play of the season came last week in the Preston game as he scrambled to his right, looped back around through defenders to his left and lofted a deep ball down the sidelines that 6-3 senior Tony Richardson caught for a 53-yard gain.
Renner has thrown for 100+ yards six times in eight games this year. He has 982 yards and 10 touchdowns passing. He is also the leading rusher on the University team with 625 yards, as he has explored the read option successfully all season long.
University also got back two injured linemen last week. Both senior center Nick Lambert and senior lineman Jeff Headley should be ready to go this week. Headley is a key on both sides of the football.
“You can’t completely stop Chazzy (Thomas), but we have to limit their run game somewhat,” Kelley said. “He’s going to get his yards, but if he has a 300-yard game like he’s been doing to some people, we don’t have a chance.
“They are the best team on our schedule and that is the case every year. We know the great talent they have and we respect that,” he continued. “We know Chazzy will be back for this game and that he’ll probably win the Kennedy Award. But what really impresses me is that big offensive line. They just come after you with a wall of humanity and they just wear you down. Those are the guys who deserve a great deal of credit for that team.
“It’s the most fun week of the year in a sense that you won’t have any trouble getting the kids to get and excited and get prepared for this one,” Kelley said. “It’s a busy week with so many demands, especially when the teams are good. Some of the stuff makes you crazy, but I guess it’s a lot more fun than being 0-9 at this point.”
Morgantown coach John Bowers sent a stern warning to his team following a lackluster 21-7 win at John Marshall last week.
“Terrible,” Bowers said of the performance. “Terrible in everything we did.
“Our kids better wake up,” Bowers lamented. “They better start taking some coaching and responding to coaching.”
Thomas missed most of the last two games with a mild high ankle sprain. Thomas has 2,010 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season. He suffered a serious leg injury in last year’s MoHawk Bowl.
The Morgantown defense is led by senior cornerback Alex Anderson who has 57 tackles and a team high five interceptions. MHS has 11 interceptions through nine games so far.
Junior defensive end Dylan Anderson is the leading tackler on the team with 83. Morgantown has a staggering 112 tackles for loss and 27 sacks. WVU recruit Stone Wolfley leads the team with six sacks.
Special teams and turnovers often play a big part in this rivalry game. Each team has an outstanding punter. Ruan Venter has averaged nearly 40 yards per kick this season for Morgantown. 2012 All-State selection Billy Kinney has recently returned to punt for UHS after missing most of the season with an injury.
Shea Campbell, Evan Stire and Alex Anderson have return touchdowns for Morgantown. University’s Jack Armstrong has four return touchdowns for the Hawks, plus another punt he returned 50 yards to the one yard line against John Marshall. Morgantown’s defense has forced 23 turnovers while the Hawks defense has forced 22.
Morgantown has won five in a row in the series. MHS won last year’s game, 35-14. Morgantown won 49-27 in 2011 and 27-6 in 2010. The best game in recent memory was 2009. Morgantown scored on an Anthony Vecchio diving touchdown grab in the first quarter.
It stayed 7-0 until the fourth when Steven Bohon scored on a short touchdown run for the Hawks. When Morgantown jumped offside on the extra point attempt, the Hawks gambled and went for two. Bohon, however, was stopped leaving the score at 7-6. Morgantown then possessed the ball for the final seven minutes as it ran out the clock.
University’s last win the series came in 2007. In fact, the Hawks beat the Mohigans twice that year, 35-0 in the MoHawk Bowl as Ryan Nehlen had a couple of scoring catches. Then, in week one of the 2007 playoffs, UHS beat MHS 20-17.
Lincoln (5-3) at Fairmont Senior (6-2)
This Class AA match up features teams that seem to be trending in opposite directions.
Fairmont Senior got four touchdowns passing and one rushing in the first half on homecoming last week against Buckhannon. The Polar Bears won 49-7 as they continued a stretch of four straight games at East/West Stadium to end the season.
There was some bad news for the Bears as leading rusher Noah Harmon was lost in the first quarter due to a knee injury. He did not return. Harmon has gone over the 1,000 yard mark for rushing this season.
Lincoln, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row on the road at Ritchie County and North Marion. The Cougars need to win their final two games over Fairmont Senior and Liberty to solidify a playoff position.
Notre Dame (6-2) at Clay Battelle (8-0)
The Irish bounced back from a 59-point loss to Class A No. 1 Madonna by beating Class AA playoff contender Philip Barbour. Junior tailback Santino Cava rushed for 178 yards in the second half and 211 yards in the game as they Irish controlled the line of scrimmage.
Cava capped his performance with a 66-yard run late in the fourth quarter that secured a 41-38 win. The Irish will complete what’s been a very tough second half schedule by playing road games at Clay Battelle and Tucker County.
The Cee-Bees are jousting for playoff positioning as they host Notre Dame and Madonna to close the regular season. Clay Battelle put last week’s game with Van away early with 27 points in the first quarter and 47 in the first half to improve to 8-0.
Elkins (0-8) at Bridgeport (7-1)
The Tigers seem worn down as they are in the midst of a stretch of four consecutive road game. The last five for Elkins have been against teams likely to make the playoffs. The Tigers have lost consecutive games to Fairmont Senior, Philip Barbour, Lewis County and Wheeling Park. The Tigers have allowed 40+ points in five of their last six.
Bridgeport came off a bye week and it pitched its second consecutive shutout and its third of the season. The Bridgeport defense has allowed a total of seven touchdowns in six games since its lone loss back in early September against Wheeling Park. For the Season, the Indians defense has allowed an average of just 12 points per game.
Liberty (0-7-1) at Lewis County (6-2)
Liberty was shut out for the second time this season as it totaled just 27 rushing yards in a 49-0 loss to Bridgeport. Liberty has road games remaining at Lewis County and at Lincoln to try and avoid a winless season.
The Lewis County defense has recorded three shutouts this season, the latest a 49-0 win over Elkins last week.
Philip Barbour (6-3) at East Fairmont (2-6)
The Colts were stunned by Class A opponent Notre Dame last week on the turf at Duvall-Rosier Field at Fairmont State. Philip Barbour had trouble stopping the run as the Irish rolled up nearly 300 rushing yards. The Colts hope to bounce back and solidify a Class AA playoff spot by getting their 7th win of the season this week.
East Fairmont snapped a six game losing streak with a 28-27 win over Grafton last week. The Bees rallied in the second half after trailing 21-13. Jake Delaney threw three touchdown passes to Myles Johnson including the game winner late in the game. The East Fairmont defense would then seal the Bees first victory since August by securing a turnover in the final seconds.
Scott (3-5) at Robert C. Byrd (5-3)
If the Eagles hope to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year, they’ll need to get wins over Scott and Elkins over the course of the next two weeks. RCB is coming off a bye week. The Eagles have scored 63 points in consecutive wins over East Fairmont and North Marion.
Preston (3-5) at Buckhannon-Upshur (2-6)
Junior running back Josiah Nuse had another tremendous game with 186 yards and a touchdown last week in a loss to University. But four turnovers proved to be too much to overcome. The Knights were in the game in the first half as they trailed 7-6 at the half.
A win by Preston Friday would give the Knights the most they’ve had in a season since the playoff campaign of 2008.
Buckhannon had lost a series of close games to Lewis County, Hampshire and Philip Barbour before getting blown out on homecoming at Fairmont Senior 49-7 last week.
Preston beat Buckhannon 39-26 in Kingwood last year. The Buccaneers had won three in a row in the series prior to 2012.
Other games this week:
Paden City (3-5) at South Harrison (2-6)
North Marion (2-7) at Grafton (0-7-1)