By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Meadow Bridge coach Larry McClintic feels his Wildcats are well-prepared for what the playoffs have in store.
Class A No. 11 Meadow Bridge (8-2) will begin that postseason journey at No. 6 Moorefield (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. today.
Meadow Bridge was tested by solid squads in its two losses this year — 16-8 to Class A No. 3 Valley and 39-32 to Class AA No. 5 Summers County.
“I felt like we could’ve won either of those ball games,” said McClintic, in his 45th year as the Wildcat boss. “Our kids have done a good job bouncing back from both losses.
“We feel like we can play. And we’re getting better.”
Moorefield is “well-balanced,” McClintic says. “They are a very good football team. They’ll spread you out and throw; they’ll spread you out and run. They give you a lot of looks formation-wise.”
Moorefield’s lone loss was a 37-34 verdict to Class AA No. 4 Frankfort in the season’s second week. The Yellowjackets have reeled off eight straight wins since then.
They defeated Fayetteville by a 48-12 count, while Meadow Bridge got by the Pirates 26-14. The other common opponent, Pendleton County, lost to both Meadow Bridge (28-13) and Moorefield (33-30).
Sophomore Will Schoonover leads the Yellow Jackets on the ground with 1,070 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dakota Vetter is on the verge of 1,000 passing yards at 999. Matt Dolan is his favorite target, having pulled in 17 passes for 494 yards and eight touchdowns.
Meadow Bridge’s offense is centered around senior tailback Jake Parker, who’s receiving some mention in the Kennedy Award race. Parker has rushed for 2,368 yards and 30 touchdowns on 252 carries this season, giving him back-to-back 2,000-yards-plus campaigns. He has scored 194 points. “We’re a little less dependent on him than we were earlier in the season,” McClintic said.
Slotback Craig Peters has rushed for 358 yards and three scores, in addition to catching two TD passes. “He’s gotten some more confidence in things he can do,” McClintic said.
Like McClintic, Peters feels the ’Cats are ready for the postseason.
“I think we’ve played well, and we did what we had to do,” he said. “We lost two games, but overall it was a good season.”
Of Moorefield, he said, “They’re good, but they’re not unbeatable. We have to block on offense, play hard on defense and be more physical than them.”
Quarterback Ryan Church (210 yards rushing, 228 passing) has come on stronger in the latter portion of the season, his coach said. “Church has stepped up. He had a good game against Sherman, and he’s gotten a little better every ball game.”
Abber Gelsinger has contributed 259 rushing yards and three TDs, while Kaleb Farr has snared four passes for 171 yards and two TDs.
Linebacker Shane Harless leads the Meadow Bridge defense with 91 total tackles (49 solo, 42 assists). Parker follows with 86 stops (55 and 31).
Church has five interceptions, Peters has four pass thefts and a fumble recovery, and David Gainer has recovered three fumbles.
McClintic praised the recent play of big senior defensive tackle Todd McClanahan. “I’m pleased that he did some things we’ve been trying to get him to do,” he said.
He said the team is “pretty healthy,” although tackle Kyle Killen is still sporting a cast on an arm he broke against Valley.
The MB-Moorefield survivor will meet Valley or Magnolia next weekend in the second round.
— E-mail: skeenan