Eastern Panhandle Report: Week 12

A separate preview of Pendleton County’s first-round matchup with Moorefield can be found here.



No. 16 Preston (4-6) at No. 1 Martinsburg (10-0)

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Last week: The Knights backed their way into the playoffs after a 26-12 loss at Brooke. The Bulldogs were on a bye week and last played in Week 10 when they handled Musselman, 57-14.

Why it’s important: With the Bulldogs sporting a state record 52-game win streak, all eyes are on Martinsburg and perhaps even more so at this time of the year. For Preston, making the postseason is a proud accomplishment, though none of the Knights’ four victories came against a playoff team. Still, getting a taste of the playoffs is a major positive for Preston.

Who to watch for Preston: J.J. Townsend surpassed 750 rushing yards this season and has been a catalyst for the Knights’ offense.

Who to watch for Martinsburg: While the list of major contributors is a lengthy one on this roster, wide receiver Jarod Bowie is having one of the better seasons of any player in the state. Though undersized, Bowie is a quality route runner with reliable hands who’s extremely difficult to bring down in the open field.

No. 12 Parkersburg (5-5) at No. 5 Musselman (8-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: The Big Reds suffered a 49-14 loss to Parkersburg South. The Applemen had a bye and last played in Week 10 when they were defeated by Martinsburg, 57-14.

Why it’s important: Losers of two straight to end the regular season, Parkersburg has its work cut out to try and pull off an upset following a lengthy road trip. Musselman, meanwhile, has four losses over the last two years and each of its three defeats against in-state competition came against Martinsburg.

Who to watch for Parkersburg: Sophomore Bryson Singer became the first player in school history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season this year.

Who to watch for Musselman: Tailback Blake Hartman is the focal point of much of what the Applemen do on both sides of the ball. If the Big Reds have difficulty slowing down Hartman, they stand little chance at pulling off the upset.

No. 9 Spring Mills (6-4) at No. 8 Greenbrier East (7-3)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: The Cardinals remained over the .500 mark with a 28-20 win over Hedgesville. The Spartans secured homefield advantage in the opening round by beating Riverside, 25-6.

Why it’s important: Both programs are hungry for a playoff win and the right to advance to a quarterfinal. While a matchcup against Martinsburg likely awaits the winner, advancing in the postseason is a big step forward for whichever teams earns the right to do so.

Who to watch for Spring Mills: After entering halftime with a six-point deficit last week, the Cardinals held the Eagles scoreless over the final two quarters. Spring Mills also got a pair of first-half touchdowns from Jacob McCaren in the win.

Who to watch for Greenbrier East: Kyle King is one of the more versatile players the Cardinals will face this year and has a hand in much of what the Spartans do. Marion Lawson gives Greenbrier East a reliable and powerful runner.


No. 12 Liberty Harrison (8-2) at No. 5 Keyser (9-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: The Mountaineers locked up a playoff bid with an impressive 21-8 win over North Marion. The Golden Tornado handled Mineral County rival Frankfort, 35-0.

Why it’s important: Both teams are brimming with confidence after closing the regular season with quality victories. Keyser, which many thought of as Class AA state title contender before its 28-7 loss to Bridgeport in Week 9, recorded an astounding seven shutouts in the regular season.

Who to watch for Liberty: Much like Keyser, Liberty has a powerful rushing attack keyed by a stable of ball carriers. Seth McIntyre and Sayveon Beafore head the list, though quarterback Noah Leggett threw two touchdown passes against the Huskies.

Who to watch for Keyser: Between Caden Biser, Drae Allen, Ryan Shoemaker and Aaron Lyons, the Golden Tornado don’t lack options for their ground game. If Keyser can limit Liberty’s rushing attack, the Golden Tornado will feel great about their chances of advancing.

No. 9 Nicholas County (8-2) at No. 8 Frankfort (8-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: The Grizzlies closed the regular season with a 36-6 victory over Princeton. The Falcons were soundly beaten by Keyser, 35-0.

Why it’s important: This looks to be one of the more evenly matched first-round contests this weekend. Despite last week’s loss, Frankfort gets to stay home, which could prove beneficial. Something will have to give, however, as the Falcons are unbeaten on their field and the Grizzlies have yet to lose on the road this year.

Who to watch for Nicholas County: With QB Timmy Baker having returned from an injury that slowed the Grizzlies some in the regular season, Nicholas County’s offensive attack is not one to take lightly. Baker likes to look the way of wideout Luke LeRose, a talented all-state basketball player who Nicholas County would like to see get a surplus of touches.

Who to watch for Frankfort: Nick Marley and J.J. Blank often give the Falcons an edge on the ground. If Frankfort can control possession and establish its ground game early, the Falcons will like their chances.

No. 9 Midland Trail (6-4) at No. 8 East Hardy (7-3)

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Last week: The Patriots suffered a disappointing 49-13 loss to Pocahontas County to miss out on homefield in the first round. Instead, it went to East Hardy, which has won seven of eight since an 0-2 start.

Why it’s important: Two teams heading in different directions down the stretch, but Midland Trail gets an opportunity to right the ship here. East Hardy’s only loss since the opening week of Sept. is a 7-6 defeat against Pendleton County.

Who to watch for Midland Trail: Colton Yoder will likely receive his fair share of carries. If quarterback Chris Vines is sharp, that would help to keep the East Hardy defense somewhat honest.

Who to watch for East Hardy: The Cougars have gotten exceptional defensive play for a good portion of the season. They’ll still need plenty of offensive production to advance, which likely falls on quarterback Christian Dove and tailback Brayden Ritchie.

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