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WV High School Football Week 7 Preview: Playoff Hopefuls Clash in Class AAA

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Hurricane and Parkersburg both face tough tests at home this week. (photo via PHSBigRedsFootball.com)

High school football teams from West Virginia now know they need to get to the four games played milestone in order to be eligible for the 2020 postseason with Thursday’s announcement by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, and with that now in mind teams can focus on winning games over the final four weeks of the regular season.

With an eye toward the race to host home games in the playoffs, the spotlight for Week 7 is firmly on Class AAA.

Four games on this weekend’s schedule include teams rated among the top 16 — with 16 playoff spots available at the end of the season — in the state’s largest classification.

  • Class AAA No. 5 Oak Hill (2-0) at Class AAA No. 9 Spring Valley (2-1): Oak Hill is unbeaten so far in its return to AAA football, but Friday’s game represents a serious step up in competition for the Red Devils. Spring Valley will likely be in a foul mood after suffering the upset of the season so far in a loss last week at Class AA Fairmont Senior.
  • Class AAA No. 11 Spring Mills (4-2) at Class AAA No. 12 Ripley (3-1): The trip from Spring Mills to Jackson County is not a short one as the Cardinals aim to get back on track after rising as high as No. 1 in an early edition of this season’s WVSSAC Class AAA playoff ratings. Ripley, meanwhile, has been off since an Oct. 2 win against Marietta (Ohio) and the Vikings have not seen a player the caliber of Spring Mills’ quarterback Keon Padmore-Johnson to this point in their season.
  • Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland (4-0) at Class AAA No. 3 George Washington (1-1): The Patriots become the first Kanawha County team to compete against outside competition on Saturday with a tough draw against the top-rated Knights on short rest. GW was outclassed by rival South Charleston on Tuesday of this week and figures to get another serious test at home against Midland, which appears to the favorite for home field advantage in the AAA playoffs with one month remaining in the regular season.
  • Class AAA No. 7 Musselman (5-1) at Class AAA No. 13 Hurricane (2-1): The Applemen make a rare Putnam County appearance on Saturday, with the winner one step closer to securing at least one home game in the playoffs. These are two good teams perhaps overshadowed by powerhouse neighbors, but two teams have star power. Musselman running back Blake Hartman is a known commodity and certainly among the best players in the state this season, while Hurricane quarterback Ismael Borrero has been one of the biggest breakout players anywhere in the state so far in 2020.

Other games of note this week:

  • Class AA No. 1 Bluefield (4-0) at Parkersburg (AAA) (3-2): The Beavers have been among the state’s top teams in any class all season and will not be intimidated by a trip to Wood County to play at Stadium Field. Parkersburg needs a win to keep its head above water in the race for a home playoff game, but beating Bluefield is a tall task.
  • Class AAA No. 8 Wheeling Park (5-1) at University (AAA) (1-1): The Hawks are among the teams that got a very late start to the season and need wins in a hurry, but like Parkersburg they will face a very good team at home this week. Following a season-opening loss to St. Clairsville (Ohio), Wheeling Park has more or less cruised in five consecutive wins — all by at least 14 points.
  • Class A No. 4 Petersburg (4-1) at Class AA No. 3 Frankfort (5-1): Nothing flashy here, just two good teams going head to head. The Vikings have been somewhat of a surprise in Class A and own a very good win against Class AA Independence already this season. Frankfort has also played up and won, with the Falcons counting Class AAA Spring Mills and Jefferson among its five victories.
  • Class AA No. 5 North Marion (4-1) at Class AA No. 12 Lewis County (3-3): Two of Lewis County’s three wins have come via forfeits, with the other a notable upset on the road at Class AAA Ripley. Friday the Minutemen will get tested by a legitimate playoff-caliber team in North Marion. Time to find out if Lewis County is a playoff contender or pretender.
  • Class AA No. 10 Fairmont Senior (3-2) at Class AA No. 5 Robert C. Byrd (4-1): These old rivals meet again with playoff seeding looming over the matchup. Fairmont Senior, fresh off its upset of Class AAA powerhouse Spring Valley, has to be the best two-loss team in the state. Byrd, meanwhile, is a solid 4-1 with the only loss coming to Class AAA Harrison County rival Bridgeport, but if the Eagles want to be taken seriously as a state contender they need to prove they can win one of these games.
  • Class AA No. 16 Poca (2-1) at Class A No. 8 Buffalo (3-0): Poca has had some trouble finding games lately, which while certainly frustrating for the Dots is also a sign that they are doing something right. Poca bounced back from a tough night against Cabell Midland two weeks ago with a rout at county rival Winfield last week, and this week takes on another Putnam County foe in Class A neighbor Buffalo. The Bison are a good Class A team, but the Dots appeared to be finding their groove again last week and looked a lot more like the team many considered among the state title favorites in Class AA prior to the season.
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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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