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West Virginia HS Football

High School Football Notebook: COVID Map Could Gang Tackle Final Playoff Ratings

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(Tom Bragg/WVSN)

The last of West Virginia high school football’s regular seasons games are scheduled for Saturday, and following their conclusion the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission will release its final playoff ratings that set the postseason fields in the Mountain State’s three classifications.

The state department of education’s COVID metrics maps is released weekly on Saturday’s, and none will be as closely watched as the one coming this week with the playoff brackets being set.

If a schools is in an “orange” or “red” county, no matter their standing in the final playoff ratings, that school will not be allowed to participate in the postseason.

On the most recent map update, Mingo County is the only “red” county in West Virginia but Berkeley, Wayne, Upshur, Morgan and Wyoming counties are all “orange” — that means if those colors hold into the next map update then four-time defending Class AAA state champion Martinsburg is out. Same for Class AAA contender Musselman and player of the year candidate Blake Hartman as well as a pretty good Spring Mills team with standout quarterback Keon Padmore-Johnson — who, like Musselman and Martinsburg, is in Berkeley County. Perennial AAA state title contender Spring Valley? Out. Tolsia has been a strong squad in Class A this season, but the Rebels would be out too because like SV they are located in Wayne County.

The WVSSAC was clear when it updated its postseason COVID guidelines for fall sports — football teams in orange and red counties the week the playoffs start are not allowed to participate in the playoffs. It would be a shame if that rule knocks out deserving teams, but if the metrics in those counties do not change this week that is exactly what is going to happen.

KANAWHA COUNTY NO.1s KEEP WINNING

Most seasons, the SSAC playoff ratings start off as kind of a general idea of what the playoff field will shape into then as the season progresses that idea becomes a much better representation of the talent around the state. This season has been different in a lot of ways, including that one. With so many teams have schedules wrecked and up in the air thanks to the COVID metrics map results, there are still a lot of questions marks around the state heading into the final week of regular season play.

Perhaps none of those questions marks are bigger than the ones placed on Class AAA No. 1 South Charleston and Class AA No. 1 Sissonville. Still, the Black Eagles and Indians just keep winning.

Both are 5-0 after last week and are poised to potentially have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. For all the jokes about the “Kanawha County Bubble” this season, the AAA and AA state title chases could come through Kanawha County this postseason.

While it’s true that SC and Sissonville have faced relatively easy schedules so far, both have the weapons to play with anyone in their classifications.

For South Charleston, that’s sophomore quarterback Trey Dunn and a Black Eagles offense stacked with talent at the skill positions as well as on defense with Zeiqui Lawton — one of the state’s premier talents — anchoring a very good group.

Sissonville’s Dylan Griffith, Jackson Foster and Braeden Murray have establish a talented corps of players that Sissonville feeds off, and don’t discount the fact that the Indians appear to have a very good placekicker in Jaxon Haynes.

SC moved to 5-0 with an easy win at Riverside, while Sissonville made a little history in its win against St. Albans. The county rivals had only played 20 times prior to Friday, with the last meeting coming in 1966. All 20 of those games, however, were hosted by St. Albans. Friday, for the first time ever, Sissonville hosted the Red Dragons.

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Tom has spent the last decade as a sports journalist based in West Virginia, most recently as the WVU beat writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and with previous stops at the Charleston Daily Mail, the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and the Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky. He was born and raised in Cross Lanes, West Virginia -- where he currently resides -- and is a 2010 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University.

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