— By Wes McKinney
GAMES TO WATCH
No. 6 Cabell Midland (2-0) at No. 2 Spring Valley (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Cabell Midland overwhelmed Parkersburg 55-13 in its home opener behind over 300 yards rushing between J.J. Roberts and Jakob Caudill.
“It was a great win to start our home schedule,” Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons said. “Our kids did a good job of executing.”
For Spring Valley, it exorcised some demons with a road win at Hurricane — a place the Timberwolves hadn’t won in a decade. And it was typical Spring Valley football with over 300 yards rushing in a 28-7 win.
“We ran the ball effectively and controlled the line of scrimmage,” Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess said. “We went out and took care of business.”
Why It’s Important: Spring Valley has won four straight over the Knights including knocking Cabell Midland out of the playoffs during the 2017 season.
“We haven’t had very many turnovers against them,” Dingess said. “We’ve also been able to limit their big plays—there a big play offense. They are well-coached and aggressive, but we’ve been able to jump on them.
This game features two of the more physical teams not only in the MSAC, but in the entire state with both teams wanting to pound the ball on the ground. “Spring Valley is big and tough,” Salmons said. “Anytime you play them, you know it’s going to be a physical game. It’s only week three, but we know this is a big game.
Dingess echoed the same sentiments about Cabell Midland and its physicality.
“Cabell Midland is a ground and pound type team. They play a real physical style of football,” Dingess said. “They know exactly what they want to do and do it well.”
Who to Watch for Cabell Midland: And with the play inside the trenches comes two bruising fullbacks that set the tone for each team’s running game. Caudill had over 200 yards rushing in the Knights’ win against Parkersburg.
“Both teams are similar as far as running the ball goes and everything goes through the fullback,” Dingess explained. “Caudill is a heck of a football player. He runs the ball hard. He blocks really well.”
Who to Watch for Spring Valley: Luke Christopher has burst onto the scene early in the season to pace the Timberwolves’ rushing attack including 134 yards against Hurricane.
“Anytime you run a system like they do, the fullback is going to be important,” Salmons said. “Spring Valley has had a lot of good fullback-type players over the years.”
No. 3 Huntington (1-0) at George Washington (0-2)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Huntington fended off a pesky Riverside team, 35-22, to open up the season last week after jumping out 21-0 on the Warriors.
“We started out really well and had a great first quarter,” Huntington head coach Billy Seals said. “Riverside had the ball three times and had three, three-and-outs to start the game.
Why It’s Important: For the first time in four years, Huntington won’t be facing former George Washington quarterback Grant Wells. Instead, it’s a new look for the Patriots, but a familiar system to Seals and his staff. Well-known Kanawha Valley coach Scott Tinsley is now in charge of the Patriots’ offense.
“They are a spread offense,” Seals said. “They’ll be in empty sets, trips open. They’ll throw a lot of tunnel screens.”
Who to Watch for Huntington: The Highlanders’ offensive and defensive lines didn’t miss a beat with having to replace all but one starter out of a possible nine combined along the fronts.
“Terrance Pankey is the only starter coming back for us on the offensive or defensive line,” Seals said. “I was very happy with the way our new guys played up front on Friday night.
Who to Watch for George Washington: Former St. Albans quarterback R.T. Alexander is now at George Washington calling the signals for the Patriots offense.
“He’s got a strong arm and can make things happen on the run,” Seals said. “I’m very impressed with him and he has good receivers to throw to. We have to make sure we’re on our game in the secondary and at linebacker.
No. 8 Point Pleasant (0-0) at Gallia Academy, Ohio (2-0)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last Week: Point Pleasant will be the last team in the state to get the season started when they travel across the Ohio River to take on Gallia.
“We’re just ready to play a ball game. It’s been seven weeks — a long fall camp,” Point Pleasant head coach David Darst joked. We’re itching to get out on the field and play someone else besides ourselves.”
Why It’s Important: There won’t be any tune-ups for Point Pleasant to start the season as it will jump right in and play a Gallia team that has yet to surrender a point in wins over Meigs and River Valley
“They have a really good club over there right now,” Darst said. “We have our hands full in our first football game of the year.”
Who to Watch for Point Pleasant: Hunter Bush will step in and take over for the highly-decorated Cason Payne at quarterback. “I really like what I’m seeing from him throughout the preseason,” Darst said. “I have another freshman quarterback, Evan Roach, that I’m grooming along.”
Despite the inexperience at quarterback, the Big Blacks have rushers with Friday night time led by Brady Adkins and Nick Parsons.
Who to Watch for Gallia: James Armstrong has spearheaded the rushing attack for the Blue Devils early in the season. “The Armstrong kid reminds me of some good running backs I’ve had here at Point Pleasant,” Darst said. “The quarterback (Noah Vanco) complements him well in the backfield.
No. 7 Mingo Central (1-1) at Logan (0-2)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Mingo Central scored 42 unanswered points on its way to rolling past Wayne, 56-16, to pick up its first win of the season. Drew Hatfield scored five
touchdowns through the air while hauling in nearly 300 yards of receiving in the win.
Meanwhile, Logan was upended by Sissonville, 28-6.
Why It’s Important: The Miners will look to continue the momentum of its rally against the Pioneers and move above .500 for the first time this season.
Logan will look to get its offense on track after having just scored 14 points through two games against Man and Sissonville.
Who to Watch to Mingo Central: Quarterback Daylin Goad was in the middle of the offensive explosion last week as he totaled six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing). Four passing touchdowns for Goad to Hatfield were for at least 45 yards including a 90-yard fourth-quarter passing touchdown.
Who to Watch for Logan: Wildcats’ signal caller Aidan Slack had the lone touchdown for Logan in the defeat to Sissonville as he scampered 21 yards for a touchdown.
Man (2-0) at Westside (0-2)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Last Week: Man rolled past Mount View, 48-7, last week to start 2-0 for the first time since the 2014 season. Five years ago, the Hillbilles also defeated Logan and Mount View to pick up two straight wins to start the season.
Why It’s Important: In 2014, Man dropped its third game of the season to a Westside team that went onto make a deep run in the Class AA playoffs behind quarterback Justin Cogar at the time.
The Hillbillies look for a 3-0 start against a Renegades squad that has surrendered 44 points in each of its two losses thus—Liberty and Wyoming East.
Who to Watch for Man: Caleb Moody and Nick Plumley combined for four touchdowns in the road win at Mount View as Moody threw for one score and ran for another.
Who to Watch for Westside: Isaac Mosely had an 80-yard touchdown run for the Renegades in the closing minutes against Wyoming East.
Other Games: Tolsia (1-1) at Lincoln County (0-2); Tug Valley (1-1) at Hannan (0-2); Winfield (1-1) at Chapmanville (0-2); Richwood (1-1) at Sherman (0-2); Paden City (0-2) at Van (0-2); Scott (0-2) at Sissonville (2-0)