With the postseason and the threat of West Virginia’s department of education COVID metrics map blowing holes in the playoff bracket looming, teams (the ones allowed to play this week) are preparing to make their final cases to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Committee’s playoff rating formula.
That means there is a bit of an unusual feeling to the final week of high school football games across the Mountain State. The WVSSAC has said schools in counties labeled red or orange on Saturday’s map update will not be permitted to take part in the football playoffs, and that they will release the brackets once the map is also out. So teams that are close to cracking or falling from the top 16 in each class just don’t know exactly how a win or a loss will change their playoff prospects.
For those teams on the brink, Friday’s games are the final chance to do what they can and hope the playoff rating formula is kind to them — especially in Class AAA.
Of the 12 games scheduled this week featuring AAA teams, five have at least one team fighting to solidify their postseason spot or for even just a sliver of hope.
- St. Albans (2-3) at Class AAA No. 2 Cabell Midland (4-0): We haven’t seen the Knights in a while due to COVID issues close to the team and in Cabell County, but when it is on the field Cabell Midland is one of the state’s best. St. Albans began 2-0 this season before losing three straight, and it would take a monumental upset by the Red Dragons on Friday to even their record and get a sniff of the playoffs.
- Class AAA No. 13 Hurricane (3-2) at Jefferson (3-5): A win would lock Hurricane into the big school playoff field. With it appearing likely there will be teams bumped from the AAA bracket when Saturday’s map is updated a loss is not necessarily devastating for Hurricane but it is not the time of year (or the year, if we’re being honest) to leave anything to chance. Similarly, a win for Jefferson would lift the Cougars to 4-5 and with teams likely to be bumped ahead of them you want to put yourself in the best position possible prior to Saturday. It’s still a longshot, but Jefferson needs a win to even have a chance — however small it is.
- University (2-3) at Class AAA No. 13 Oak Hill (3-2): The Red Devils can cement themselves into the field with a win while University needs a win and probably some help to get in. The Hawks are coming off a lopsided loss to cross-town rival Morgantown in last week’s Mohawk Bowl and make the long trip from Morgantown to Fayette County for this one.
- No. 15 Washington (5-4) at John Marshall (5-4): After a promising start to the season, the Monarchs have lost three of their last four games and sit just outside the AAA top 16 with one game to play. Washington, meanwhile, has been up and down at times this season. The Patriots have won two of their last three games — the loss, however, did come last week against Jefferson).
- Greenbrier East (5-4) at Lincoln County (4-4): Both the Spartans and the Panthers sit just outside Class AAA’s top 16 this week heading into what could essentially be a postseason play-in game.
Other games of note this week around the state:
- Class AAA No. 7 Bridgeport (5-1) at Class AAA No. 12 Morgantown (3-2)
- Class AA No. 6 Keyser (7-2) at Class AA No. 3 Frankfort (7-1)
- Class AA No. 8 Robert C. Byrd (6-2) at Class AA No. 16 Lincoln (4-3)
- Class AA No. 10 Clay County (7-1) at Class AA No. 14 Braxton County (5-2)
- Class AA No. 15 Liberty Harrison (4-2) at Class AA No. 11 North Marion (5-3)
- Class A No. 10 Tygarts Valley (7-1) at Class A No. 4 Doddridge County (5-1)
- Man (3-4) at Class A No. 6 Buffalo (5-1)
- Class A No. 14 Pendleton County (4-2) at Class A No. 6 East Hardy (5-1)
- Wheeling Central (5-3) at Class A No. 11 Petersburg (5-3)
- Class AAA No. 16 Ripley (5-3) at Ravenswood (1-8)
- Wirt County (4-2) at Clay-Battelle (3-1)
- Meadow Bridge (4-3) at Gilmer County (4-4)