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West Virginia HS Football

High School Football Week 9 Preview: Lots at Stake For Many Teams Down the Stretch

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Poca junior tight end Toby Payne (Tom Bragg/WVSN)

The West Virginia high school football season is down to its final two weekends of play, and this weekend’s schedule is full of games with postseason implications.

  • Class AA No. 7 Keyser (5-3) at Class AAA No. 13 John Marshall (5-3): The Monarchs have sputtered of late after getting off to a good start this season, and it doesn’t get any easier with the always-tough Golden Tornado coming to Glen Dale on Friday. Keyser’s quest for a Class AA home playoff game would receive a serious boost with a win, while JM can’t afford to let too many losses pile up in the final weeks or it will be on the outside looking in when the postseason begins in two weeks.
  • Class AA No. 10 Poca (4-1) at Class AAA No. 14 Hurricane (3-2): Very similar situation here as to the Keyser/John Marshall game. Poca has had a hard time finding replacement games as the COVID metrics map and wrecked schedules around the state, and the veteran Dots find themselves in the position of needing to win down the stretch to get a game at home in the playoffs. Hurricane, meanwhile, has been one of the hardest teams to figure out in Class AAA. They played powerhouse Cabell Midland close before getting blown out at home by Musselman and player of the year contender Blake Hartman. Then last week Hurricane had to come from behind to beat winless Putnam County rival Winfield. The Dots are much better than Winfield, expect Hurricane to have its hands full with 2019 Kennedy Award winner Ethan Payne. Poca already owns wins against the Generals and Buffalo, so a victory Friday would give the Dots a rare Putnam County sweep.
  • Class AAA No. 15 Greenbrier East (5-3) at Class AAA No. 11 Princeton (4-2): The Spartans lost a shootout at home last week to Class AA No. 1 Sissonville, and this week are tasked with slowing down standout sophomore quarterback Grant Cochran and the high-powered Princeton offense. Cochran has weapons around him in Amire Powell, Josiah Honaker and Ethan Parsons, who each have seven touchdowns so far this season. For Greenbrier East, Colby Piner has been a standout on offense but the defense has allowed points in bunches each of the last three games. Princeton’s only two losses came two Class AA power Bluefield, and fourth-year coach Chris Pedigo’s squad appears poised to make a run at a home playoff game at Hunnicutt Field.
  • Class AAA No. 16 University (2-2) at Class AAA No. 16 Morgantown (2-2): The Mohawk Bowl is an especially big one with season with the loser facing a tough path to the postseason. Morgantown has shown a commitment to pound the ball on the ground under first-year coach Sean Biser, who built Keyser into a perennial Class AA playoff contender before coming to the Mohigans prior to this season. For veteran University coach John Kelley, sophomore quarterback Chase Edwards shined in last week’s win against Preston with four passing touchdowns and another on the ground while senior running back Eliki Barber has ran for 125 yards last week and 186 the previous week in a loss to Class AAA No. 5 Wheeling Park.
  • Class AA No. 9 Robert C. Byrd (5-2) at Class AA No. 8 North Marion (5-2): There will be star players all over the field in this one as the Eagles and Huskies jockey for postseason positioning. Byrd’s duo of quarterback Xavier Lopez and Jeremiah King have led the way for RCB in 2020, while North Marion junior receiver Tariq Miller has been among Class AA’s best at his position. Both teams appear in good shape for the playoffs win or lose, but a win will go a long way toward getting a first round game at home.

Best of the rest:

  • Class AA No. 6 Fairmont Senior (5-2) vs. Class AA No. 12 Elkins (4-2) at Tygarts Valley
  • Class AAA St. Albans (2-2) at Class AA No. 1 Sissonville (4-0)
  • Class AAA Jefferson (3-4) at Class AAA No. 9 Parkersburg (5-2)
  • Class AA Herbert Hoover (2-2) at Class A No. 1 Doddridge County (5-0)
  • Class A Gilmer County (4-3) at Class A No. 13 Ritchie County (6-2)
  • Class AAA Huntington (2-5) at Class AAA No. 7 Bridgeport (4-1)
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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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