The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 11, 2012

Princeton playing for pride

Tigers playing better than their record indicates

It’s hard to believe that seven weeks of the 2012 high school football season have already been completed, but that’s exactly where we stand as the temperatures are starting to drop and leaves are reaching their peak fall colors around the Mountain State.

But as much as has already taken place this season, there’s still a lot to be decided around the area with plenty of football left to be played.

STOCK RISING

Princeton —
The Tigers aren’t going to be a playoff team. Their 0-6 start assured that. But first-year head coach Randy Peek has to be given some credit for finding a way to keep his team motivated.

On Sept. 22., the Tigers were 0-5 and had given up more than 54 points per game in their last four outings. It would have been easy to throw in the towel and give up.

Instead, Princeton came out fighting and led most of the game against a pretty good Graham (Va.) squad — the only team all year to beat Bluefield — before falling short in a 22-16 defeat.

Even that didn’t bust the balloon. Princeton followed that up last Friday with a convincing 45-22 win over St. Albans in a battle of winless squads.

With three games left, the Tigers will be playing for nothing but pride, but the opponents — Spring Valley, Cabell Midland and Greenbrier East — aren’t likely to see a team that looks like a one-win squad.

STOCK FALLING

Independence —
After a 48-20 loss at home against Summers County on Friday, the Patriots’ playoff hopes are basically on life support.

At 2-4 overall, Independence might be able to sneak into the postseason if it could win out. But with a matchup against Liberty this week and another at Wyoming East later this month, that seems unlikely.

The Patriots can point to defense as the reason for the struggles. In their four losses, they’ve given up an average of 43.8 points per game. It’s tough for any offense to outscore that number.

BY THE NUMBERS

339 —
Oak Hill running back Jalen Jones would need to average 339 yards rushing per game over the final four games to break the WVSSAC single-season rushing record of 2,744 yards, held by Josh Culbertson. That seems like a stretch, but after going for 325 last week against No. 8 Point Pleasant — and with a couple of down teams left on the schedule — it may not be impossible.

356 — Meadow Bridge’s Jake Parker could have an outside shot at that record, as well. He’s rushed for 1,676 yards in seven games this season. With three games left — at home against Summers County, at Mount View and at Sherman — he would need to average 356 yards per game to reach that magical number.

That could also be more likely than at first glance, considering Parker has topped that number on a couple of occasions already this season.

2,000 — Shady Spring senior quarterback Adam Weeks has some work ahead of him if he hopes to reach 2,000 yards passing for the second straight season.

In 2011, Weeks passed the mark easily, totaling 2,293 yards through the air. Through six games this year, though, he’s at 1,082. He’ll need 918 yards through the final four games to reach the mark, 229.5 yards per game.

AROUND THE STATE

The No. 1 vs. No. 2-type matchups that have been so prevalent in recent weeks just don’t exist on this Friday’s slate. But there are some interesting games, including No. 3 Huntington’s trip to No. 10 Logan in Class AAA.

Both teams are 5-1, but Logan really hasn’t been tested with its wins coming over Man, Chapmanville, Shady Spring, Lincoln County and Winfield. But Friday will be a chance for the Wildcats to really make a statement against a Huntington squad that is one point away from being undefeated — a 14-13 loss to Cabell Midland its only setback.

Other games pitting ranked teams against each other include No. 1 Cabell Midland (7-0) at No. 12 Capital (4-2) and No. 16 Hampshire (4-2) at No. 9 Musselman (5-2) in Class AAA.

In the Class AA ranks, No. 11 Petersburg (4-2) will visit No. 3 Frankfort (6-0), and Class A No. 16 Wheeling Central (4-3) will be at Class AA No. 10 Mingo Central (4-2).

Class A No. 3 Greenbrier West (6-1) will hit the road to play Class AA No. 12 Webster County (4-3) in one of the most intriguing local battles on the schedule.

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