Northern Panhandle high school football playoff report: Super Six edition

— By Shawn Rine

No. 6 Williamstown (11-2) vs. No. 1 Wheeling Central (12-1)

When: Saturday at 7 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium

Last week: Williamstown advanced to the Super Six with its second consecutive road victory, mauling second-seeded and previously unbeaten Midland Trail, 56-8. Wheeling Central punched its ticket to earn a chance at a repeat, crushing undefeated Doddridge County, 47-7.

Why it’s important: Williamstown has an opportunity to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. To do so, the Yellowjackets will have to find a way to knock off a Wheeling Central team that drubbed it, 33-0, in Williamstown back in Week 1.

This is the fifth time these teams have met in the title game since 2005, with Wheeling Centtral winning the previous four. For the Maroon Knights, this is a chance to cement themselves as one of the top programs in the state, regardless of class. This would be Wheeling Central’s 10th title since 2000.

Who to watch for Williamstown: It comes down to the defense, which is led by Eric Brown and his 134 tackles to go with four interceptions, five fumbles caused, one kick blocked and a fumble recovery. Only Shadyside, Ohio, in a swamp, has been able to slow the Maroon Knights juggernaut of an offense at full strength.

Who to watch for Wheeling Central: He’s only a sophomore, but on any other team Payton Marling would be the talk of the town. A nasty defender, he’s as versatile as they come on offense. He’s shown an ability to run the ball both out of the backfield and on shovel passes, and made perhaps the catch of the season last week against Doddridge. He’s the team’s second-leading tackler with 77.


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