By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Greenbrier West has rushed for over 4,000 yards through 11 games — which isn’t news.
That the Cavaliers like to run the ball isn’t exactly a Petraeus-like revelation.
What they have this year that hasn’t been as prevalent in years past is a solid passing game. OK, so they have thrown the ball an average of barely five times per game. But when called upon, receiver Josh Martin comes through.
Of the 31 passes completed by West quarterbacks, 25 have gone to Martin. He has 616 of the team’s 688 receiving yards and eight of nine touchdowns.
“Josh has added a little dimension for us,” Cavaliers coach Lewis McClung said. “He is such a big target. He is usually quite a bit taller than the guys covering him.”
West (10-1) will try to use all its weapons today when it takes on Wahama (11-0) in the Class A quarterfinals. Kickoff from Point Pleasant High School will be 1:30 p.m.
Everyone knows about the Cavs’ perpetual rushing attack, which this year has been led by junior quarterback Malik Boatwright and senior tailback Tyler Parker. But Martin’s presence as a 6-foot-6 pass-catching target makes opponents respect the passing game.
Once Martin catches the ball, he often is able to outsprint the defender to the end zone with a long stride.
“He runs better than most people think,” McClung said. “His speed is deceptive. He looks like he is loafing out there, but with those long strides he is moving pretty good.”
Martin had a 50-yard touchdown catch in last week’s 48-6 first-round win over Meadow Bridge.
Martin also makes an impact on defense. He had one of the Cavaliers’ three interceptions against the Wildcats.
“He has been a two-year starter at free safety and has done a good job,” McClung said. “He is rangy and covers the field well for a free safety. We don’t ask him to lay a lick on people often. It’s not always the prettiest tackle, but he is able to get them down.”
Boatwright lines up primarily at quarterback, but is West’s leading rusher with 1,599 yards and 17 touchdowns on 176 carries. Parker is next at 1,053 yards and a team-high 18 TDs on 168 attempts.
Junior Corey Cox has gained 595 yards and scored eight times.
Boatwright and junior Mikey Goddard have split the passing duties. Boatwright has completed 15 of 34 attempts for 344 yards and four touchdowns, while Goddard is 15 of 24 for 333 yards and five TDs.
In Wahama, the state’s third-rated Class A team, the No. 6 Cavaliers will face a team similar to themselves. The White Falcons don’t pass much — although certainly more than West — and rely heavily on a ground game that, like the Cavs, features a pair of 1,000-yard rushers.
Junior Kane Roush leads Wahama with 1,460 yards and 22 touchdowns on 94 carries — an average of 15.5 yards per rush. Senior fullback Zach Wamsley (6-0, 195) has carried for 1,070 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“They are physical like us,” McClung said. “They like to play a smashmouth style. It will be interesting to see how our kids respond to that.”
Quarterback Trenton Gibbs has gone for 557 yards and senior Crandale Neal 553.
Gibbs has completed 49 of 92 passes for 987 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Cavs outgained Meadow Bridge 360-198 last week, but McClung didn’t like the way the offense performed once it got a big lead. After going ahead 34-0, West punted on four of its next seven drives.
“We can’t play like that this week if we are going to have a chance,” McClung said.
In other Class A games, No. 7 East Hardy and No. 2 Magnolia play at 7:30 p.m., with the winner getting the Greenbrier West-Wahama winner in next week’s semifinals. No. 8 Clay-Battelle is at No. 1 Tucker County.
Today’s only Class AA game has No. 7 Scott at No. 2 Keyser.
All the Class AAA games were played Friday.
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