High School Football

Wayne-Keyser matchup a tussle of perennial playoff teams

VIENNA, W.Va. — A pair of elite Class AA programs will clash Saturday at 1:30 p.m. when No. 10 Wayne travels to face No. 7 Keyser.

The contest appears to be relatively even with both teams entering with 8-2 records and the Pioneers having won eight straight games since an 0-2 start.

“We probably could have picked a better opponent especially traveling all the way across the state to it,” Wayne coach Tommy Harmon said. “But all the respect in the world for Keyser and we know Keyser is a perennial playoff team. 

“Their coach has a lot of experiecence, their kids play with a lot of pride and we feel like we have the same thing. Anytime you can get that together makes for a nice afternoon.”

Golden Tornado coach Sean Biser sees a lot of similarities between the programs, both of which are fixtures in the Class AA playoffs.

“When we saw the matchup, we’d have rather had a different matchup — that’s kind of obvious,” Keyser coach Sean Biser said. “Tommy Haron teams are going to be well coached and physical. They’re going to come right at you. He’s going to run the jet sweep and hide the football and use a lot of misdirection and things like that. They’re very similar to us in that respect. 

“The matchup is intriguing and we know we have our work cut out for us. If we make it to the next round, we’re definitely going to earn our way to the next round. That’s for sure.”

The Pioneers’ playoff hopes were in jeopardy after a season-opening loss to Class AAA No. 2 Spring Valley was followed with a 29-24 setback in Week 2 against AA No. 9 Mingo Central.

Wayne has won eight straight games since, including a 23-0 victory over previously unbeaten Poca last Friday.

“It takes some maturity when things don’t go well,” Harmon said. “You have to have faith in your plan and to our kids credit they didn’t give up. You play with your back against the wall for eight weeks. How competitive Double A is, you can’t afford to slip up and maybe not make the playoffs if you stub your toe. 

“But the big thing is the maturity of your team, having faith in what you do and in today’s world, when you can find a group of kids that’ll stick to it like that it’s something to be proud of.”

Keyser’s lone losses were to a pair of the top teams in Class AA — Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport. The Golden Tornado also have wins over Weir, Frankfort and Mountain Ridge, Md., the latter of which came last week in overtime 35-34 following a successful two-point conversion pass on a faked extra point play

“Sixteen points separates us from being undefeated, but at the end of the day none of that stuff really matters,” Biser said. “It’s all about this game. 

“It’s definitely better to be at home and that game (last) Friday night was huge for us in terms of that. We’d much rather play Wayne at our place than have to drive to Wayne. We’ve done that enough already.”

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