High School Football
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North Central football report: Week 2

Morgantown’s Jace Whetsell helped the Mohigans win last week’s opener against Parkersburg. MHS heads to Steubenville, Ohio for its Week 2 contest.


Games to watch

Class AAA

No. 6 Morgantown (1-0) at Steubenville, Ohio (0-1): The Mohigans jumped into the MetroNews top 10 in Class AAA on the strength of a 45-35 season-opening win over Parkersburg. Morgantown led 17-0 in the first quarter, only to fall behind 28-17. But MHS flipped the momentum when Jace Whetsell returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.

“It was a wild one,” Morgantown coach Matt Lacy said. “But our guys showed great resolve after falling behind. We weren’t quite in game shape yet, but our seniors rallied the guys and brought everyone around. You saw what happened in the second half.”

Now the Mohigans face two significant challenges on the road as they will play at Steubenville, Ohio and Fort Hill, Maryland in consecutive weeks. Each of those teams claimed state championships a year ago.

“We need to make significant improvements and communicate better,”  Lacy said. “They use multiple formations and they will exploit your defense if guys are not in the right place.

“Defensively, they’ll bring guys from different places on the field on every play. That atmosphere (at Steubenville) will be great. We had a packed stadium for our (home) opener and I think that will help our guys face that big crowd on the road this week.”

University (0-1) at Parkersburg South (1-0): The Hawks had trouble stopping the run in a 35-28 loss at John Marshall. 

The Monarchs controlled the clock and time of possession as they rushed for 323 yards and had 447 yards of total offense.

“They pushed our defense all over the field and we couldn’t get off the field,” UHS coach John Kelley said of JM, which converted 10-of-16 third downs and 4-of-4 fourth downs. “They were bigger, stronger and tougher than us.”

The Hawks did move the football well as senior Logan Holgorsen threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns in his first start with UHS. Seniors Amir Richardson and Evan Parow each had a pair of touchdown receptions. Parow had career highs with 11 receptions and 142 yards.

“We need to take some positives out of this,” Kelley said. “We did a lot of good things. Our offense marched up and down the field.  Our defense will get better. We’ll make some personnel changes and give some people some different looks. We will get better.”

UHS will be on the road for the second straight week as the Hawks will play a Parkersburg South team that beat Ripley, 27-7 last week.

It will be another challenge against a team that can run the football as the Patriots rolled up 291 yards on the ground.

UHS has won back to back games and five of the last six in the series against Parkersburg South. Richardson had three touchdown receptions in a 49-24 UHS victory over the Patriots last season.

Buckhannon-Upshur (1-0) at Ripley (0-1): Buckhannon-Upshur is seeking its first 2-0 start to the season since 2005.

Ryan Strader was the standout last week in a season-opening 21-14 win over Princeton. Strader scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, added the two-point conversion and then helped seal the game with a late interception. Strader finished with 141 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.

Cameron Zuliani became the first female to score in a varsity football game for B-U as she made an extra point in the game. 

North Marion (0-1) at Preston (1-0): An extremely young Preston team won its opener at home, 22-13 over Hampshire last week after scoring 22 unanswered points.

Jesse Gribble scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the comeback win for the youthful Knights. Thirty of the 45 players on the Preston roster are either freshman or sophomores.

North Marion faces a difficult schedule this season as five of its 10 opponents made the playoffs a year ago. The Huskies began the season with a 32-12 loss to Class AA No. 10 Nicholas County.

Class AA 

No. 1 Fairmont Senior (1-0) at Lewis County (0-1): Fairmont Senior was impressive in a 46-20 victory over Robert C. Byrd last week. The Polar Bears, however, will be without standout Caleb Walker after Walker suffered a fractured jaw on the first play of the game. 

“That’s some adversity right off the bat,”  Fairmont Senior coach Nick Bartic said. “He’s going to be out for a while. We’ll have to see what happens and hopefully we’ll be able to get him back later in the season.”

Connor Neal was 18-of-24 passing for 343 yards and five touchdowns and completed passes to nine different receivers.

“It was great to see the passing game to be as efficient as it was in the first game,” Bartic said. “We are happy with this performance especially against a quality opponent like Byrd.”

Lewis County fell 45-17 to Bridgeport last week. This will be the second straight week the Minutemen play a perennial AA power, with both the Indians and Polar Bears ranked in the top 3.

Liberty Harrison (1-0) at No. 3 Bridgeport (1-0): Liberty made a long road trip to Roane County to open the season and the Mountaineers returned with a 42-22 win.  Liberty coach A.J. Harman is hoping the growth from last year’s first-ever home playoff win continues.

“We had to replace six guys on both sides of the football for this season,” Harman said.  “But we’ve got the culture of the program to a place where the kids are really working hard to try and continue to build.”

Liberty and Bridgeport did not meet last season.

Bridgeport won the last meeting 34-0 back in 2016. Prior to that, the last meeting between the teams was 2013. 

The Indians feature standout tailback Jake Bowen, who figures to see a bulk of touches against LHS.

East Fairmont (0-1) at Grafton (1-0): Grafton looks to turn things around from a 3-7 record a year ago. The Bearcats got off to a great start with a 27-6 road victory over a Philip Barbour team that reached the playoffs a year ago. 

Caleb Bish rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

Grafton won a tight 10-9 decision over East Fairmont last year. It was Grafton’s fourth consecutive win in the series.

The Bees are looking to bounce back from a Week 1 loss to Elkins.

Class A

Clay-Battelle (1-0) at Meadow Bridge (0-1): Clay-Battelle outgained Hundred, 435-102 as it opened the season with a 61-0 victory.

Senior Nathan Swaniger had three rushing touchdowns, while junior Caden Skavinsky had a pair of touchdown receptions.   Junior linebacker Jordan Herndon led the defense with 10 tackles.

Meadow Bridge enters off a tough 23-22 loss to Van in Week 1.

Other games: Philip Barbour (0-1) at Elkins (1-0); Robert C. Byrd (0-1) at Lincoln (1-0); Point Pleasant (1-0) at South Harrison (0-1); Notre Dame (0-1) at Calhoun County (1-0); Tyler Consolidated (0-1) at Doddridge County (1-0)

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