CHARLESTON, W.Va — After hosting its first ever home playoff game last week, No. 8 Sissonville is rewarded with a rematch against two-time defending state champion and top ranked Wayne in the quarterfinals.
The Indians are riding the playoff wave after they defeating No. 9 Mingo Central 28-18 in front of an electric crowd at Joe Sawyer field, as they witnessed the school’s first playoff home game in school history.
“We embraced (the home game), and the community did as well,” Sissonville head coach Eddie Smolder said. “We made it a great atmosphere, our kids played hard, and we came out on top.”
Sissonville has won six straight games since losing its lone game of the year to the Pioneers, 58-19, back on September 27th. The Indians held it close in the first quarter, down 7-0. Wayne, though, took full control in the second quarter, converting many big plays into scores and taking a 38-0 halftime lead.
“The first quarter, it was tight we blocked a field goal, and they scored after we turned the ball over on downs on a fourth-and-one,” Smolder said. “In the second quarter we kind of just crumbled, they had a fumble return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown.”
The Indians, who only have six seniors on their roster, turn to two of them on offense to generate points. Dominic Walker, who is the third leading rusher in Class AA, heads the backfield with 1,452 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“Dominic runs hard and is full of energy,” Smolder said. “He’s a hard tackle because he’s quick and shifty.”
Quarterback Nathan Miller leads the no-huddle attack for Sissonville with 1,209 yards and 14 scores.
“Miller is a kid who controls our no-huddle offense,” Smolder said. “He’s very smooth with it and I don’t know if he’s made one mistake with it as we run (no-huddle) 95 percent of the time.”
Miller’s favorite target, Houston Hill is among the leaders in Class AA receiving, with 30 receptions for 592 yards and five touchdowns.
“Houston is a self-made player, he only had two catches for us last year,” Smolder said. “He had a growth spurt and spent a lot of time in the weight room and has improved his speed.”
Wayne (11-0) comes into the quarterfinals on a 34 game win streak, after they dismantling No. 16 Philip Barbour 53-25 in the opening round. The Pioneers had their way on the ground against Philip Barbour, rushing for 477 yards.
Grant Ferguson leads the Wayne offense that is putting up 50 points a game, with 1,090 yards threw the air and 15 touchdowns, to go along with 595 yards rushing as well.
“Ferguson was a first team all-state (quarterback) as a sophomore, that speaks for itself,” Smolder said. “He runs the offense for them to a tee.”
Mason Hodge leads the Pioneers on the ground with 1,217 yards and 15 scores. Nathan Spurlock has added 639 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground as the second running back in the offense.
“Hodge is 230-something and a load to bring down, we’re going to have to read our keys and fly to the football.” Smolder said.
The winner of this game will face either No.12 Ritchie County or No. 13 Robert C. Byrd in the semifinals for the right to play on the Island.
“We have and opportunity to go down there again and we’re excited for that,” Smolder said. “We’re going to get off the bus, put our pads on and be ready to go at 7:30.”