Notebook: Schedule shuffling leads to several new matchups

(High School Sportsline broadcast – Sept. 16)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — News and notes from around West Virginia as the high school football season enters its third week.

The makings of a marquee matchup

It has become a normal part of game week for high school football coaches to play on Friday and then jump to their computers on Saturday to check the WVDE map that sets the COVID-releated protocols for the week. Martinsburg lost their scheduled game at South Charleston when Kanawha County was set in the orange category. Spring Valley looked to suffer the same fate, but the 5 p.m. release gave the Timberwolves good news and a six-hour trip to Berkeley County.

“We had been in contact and we knew each other wanted to play,” said Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess.

“When the map came out early Saturday and we were orange, I kind of figured that we weren’t going to get to play this week. So we put that on the back burner. All of a sudden, my phone started blowing up at five that we were yellow. I got on the horn, started calling around and we were getting back and forth with a couple people. It was kind of getting down to the wire. We needed to make a decision. It worked out. Those guys are great to work with.”

Spring Valley’s Wyatt Milum (64) tackles Parkersburg’s Xadrian Snodgrass (29). (Photo by Marcus Constantino)

Next QB up on Wheeling Island

The Patriots of Wheeling Park have seen a strong run of quarterbacks come through over the past decade. Zach Phillips (West Liberty), Cross Wilkinson (Lehigh) and Alex Dunlevy (WV State) were all multi-year starters for Park. This fall, senior Beau Heller has stepped into the spotlight and performed well. In two games, he has completed 21-of-28 passes for 295 yards with 5 touchdowns and just 1 interception.

“Beau has had to sit behind a pretty good quarterback,” said Wheeling Park head coach Chris Daugherty. “It wasn’t like we thought Beau couldn’t do it. But Alex Dunlevy was a pretty good quarterback for two years. Beau waited his turn and I thought did a real good job of being ready for that senior year, knowing this was an opportunity. We think we have a good young quarterback coming up in Brett Phillips also. Beau knew he had to be ready.”

Big Reds back to .500 after spirited rally

The Big Reds of Parkersburg scored 31 unanswered points, erasing a 14-point deficit to defeat Wheeling Central Catholic 38-21 in Week 2. Head coach Mike Byus says little changes made a big difference in the come-from-behind win.

Parkersburg head coach Mike Byus (Photo by Marcus Constantino)

“We straightened the ship up and played a little harder, tackled a little harder, ran a little harder, just the little things you have to do to be successful,” said Byus. “When you play a team like that who is used to winning, they do all the little things right. You have to do the same thing if you want to match their intensity. It was a heck of a game.”

Big test awaits John Marshall in Week 3

Only two in-state matchups this week feature opponents with 2-0 records. Ritchie County-St. Marys is one and John Marshall-Oak Glen is the other. The Monarchs have outscored Weir and Preston 94-19 in their 2-0 start and they are excited for the many challenges that the Golden Bears will bring.

“They’re good,” said John Marshall head coach Jason Willis. “They don’t have many holes. They are athletic. The (Gage and Hunter) Patterson kid is really, really tough. We have to try to see if we can slow them down a little bit. Hopefully we can control the line of scrimmage on offense and sustain some drives, and keep the ball out of their hands. Hopefully we can finish those drives. But they are a really good, experienced ball club.”

Bluefield faces Beckley, then rare rematch with Princeton

The pandemic has created some scheduling oddities for Bluefield. Their traditional season-opening contest with Graham, Va. was cancelled when Virginia postponed football until early-2021. After Friday’s matchup at Woodrow Wilson, the Beavers will next prepare for a rematch with Princeton. The Beavers rallied from 13 points down in Week 1 to defeat the Tigers, 15-13.

Bluefield’s head coach Fred Simon (Photo by Will Wotring)

“Our players found a way to win,” said Bluefield head coach Fred Simon. “If we don’t play good defense in those situations, there was definitely a chance we could have lost that game. I though coach (Chris) Pedigo and his staff did a nice job. I think Princeton is an improved ball club. We learned some lessons in that game.

Clay looks to continue winning ways

Dating back to the close of the 2018 season, Clay County has gone 10-2 in their last 12 games. The Panthers went 7-2 in 2019 but missed the playoffs in a competitive Class AA bracket. This fall, Jason Nichols’ club has defeated Philip Barbour and Roane County in their 2-0 start.

“We have stability in our coaching staff. I know every coach says this but I believe I have one of the best coaching staffs around. We simplify a lot of the things we want to do. We just try to get real good at a few things instead of average at a lot of things.”

Midland Trail, Lincoln take the field for the first time

After a positive COVID case around the Lincoln football program was announced on September 2, the Cougars paused practices and eventually missed games against Fairmont Senior and Grafton. Rob Hawkins’ club will finally open the season Friday vs. Nicholas County (1-1).

“Our attitudes have been great,” Hawkins said. “It is just an enjoyable group of kids to work with. Our coaching staff loves working with the kids and the kids give us everything they have.”

Midland Trail is one of several football teams statewide that has yet to play in a game due to the COVID protocols map.

In Hico, the new ‘gold’ designation on the state COVID protocols map has allowed Midland Trail to open their season. The Patriots will visit Fayette County rival Meadow Bridge Friday. Trail head coach Frank Isaacs delivered the news to his team in a unique way at Tuesday’s practice.

“Unfortunately, Richwood (original opponent) has already scheduled something else because they are not a gold color,” Isaacs said to his team. “It is unfortunate that we are not going to play Richwood Friday. But we will be playing Meadow Bridge so let’s get ready.

“They jumped up in the air, got excited and started hooting and hollering.”

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