By Cam Huffman
Nine area teams are in position to make the playoffs and looking to stay there. A number of others are looking to get some wins to get into that mix.
That sets up plenty of drama this week as the high school football season heads into its seventh week with some interesting area matchups.
The Register-Herald Game of the Week puts Summers County at Independence for a homecoming showdown between two teams looking to keep their postseason hopes alive.
WHAT THIS MEANS
If either team hopes to make the playoffs, this game is basically a must-win.
Summers County (3-3) is within striking distance, slotted at No. 19 in the latest WVSSAC Class AA ratings. But the Bobcats need to get back on track. After starting the season 3-0 with wins over PikeView, James Monroe and Grafton, Summers County is dropping quickly. It’s lost three in a row to Wyoming East, Greenbrier West and Covington (Va.).
An offense that was so explosive early in the year struggled to put points on the board in those games, averaging 15.7 points per contest.
Independence (2-3) has some ground to make up, rated No. 30 in Class AA, but there’s still plenty of time. The Patriots ended a three-game losing skid last week with a decisive 47-7 thumping of Sherman.
It’s all about defense for Independence.
In its wins, it held Midland Trail and Sherman to 13 total points. But in its losses to Greenbrier West, Shady Spring and Westside, it allowed 127 points.
Will the Patriots have what it takes to keep the Bobcat offense grounded, or will Summers County find its magic again? The answer could decide which team’s march toward the postseason continues.
LAST TIME THEY MET
Summers County defeated Independence 27-26 last season. The Patriots drove to the Bobcats’ 19-yard line late in the game, but an interception closed the door on the Summers County victory.
Isaiah Brown scored three touchdowns for the Bobcats in the win. Aaron Tolliver carried the ball five times for 18 yards for Independence, but the Patriots’ top star in that game, Travis Mills, who rushed for 224 yards and four touchdowns, was lost to graduation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Isaiah Brown, WR/RB — What he did last year will certainly be in the heads of the Independence coaches, but Brown hasn’t gone unnoticed this year either. In six games, he has rushed for 373 yards on 68 carries and caught 11 passes for 191 yards.
Aaron Tolliver, RB — The biggest threat on the Patriot offense, Tolliver can take it the distance on any carry but is also more than comfortable pounding away three or four yards at a time.
OTHER AREA GAMES
Fayetteville at Mount View
Fayetteville (0-6) is still looking for its first win and a little offense. The Pirates are averaging just 13.3 points per game and have given up 86 points in the last two games, since giving Meadow Bridge a scare on Sept. 14.
Mount View (2-4) is a team going in the opposite direction. The Golden Knights broke a 31-game losing streak with an upset of Wyoming East on Sept. 21 and followed that up last Friday with a 26-6 win over Van. A victory over a usual Class A power would be huge for the Mount View program.
Greenbrier East at Nitro
If the Spartans (1-4) are going to turn this season around, they have to find some defense. With a powerful running game and a capable quarterback, they’ve been able to score points, but they’re giving up more than 44 points per game.
Nitro (2-3), the No. 24 team in Class AAA, also had some defensive struggles early in the year, giving up 49 points per game in losses to Poca, Hurricane and Ripley to begin the season, but the Wildcats have been much stronger during a two-game winning streak, giving up only 19 points per game in victories over St. Albans and Lincoln County.
Greenbrier West at Pocahontas County
Even with a loss on its schedule, Greenbrier West (5-1) is ranked ahead of four undefeated teams in Class A. The Cavaliers, No. 2 in the ratings, followed their only loss of the season with back-to-back wins over Summers County and PikeView. Illustrating its dominance, West has outscored its opponents by an average of 35.7-13.
Pocahontas County (2-4) could give its own playoff hopes a major boost with a win tonight. The Warriors are No. 28 in Class A, but they have won 2-0 after an 0-4 start. The question will be whether an offense that’s scoring just 11.3 points per game can keep pace with the Cavs, even on its home field.
Huntington at Woodrow Wilson
The No. 4 team in Class AAA Huntington (4-1) has been almost perfect, aside from a 14-13 loss to Cabell Midland — which beat Woodrow 70-34 — last week.
Woodrow Wilson (4-2) still has plenty of ratings points and came in at No. 11 in Class AAA this week. But the Flying Eagles have lost two of their last three and given up 114 points in those two defeats. They’ll have to tighten up those numbers if they want to compete with the Highlanders this week.
James Monroe at Shady Spring
Scoring points has been a struggle for Class AA No. 32 James Monroe (2-4), which has lost four of its last five games largely because of an offense that’s scored just 13.4 points per game over that stretch.
Shady Spring (2-4) has struggled against Class AAA competition and is ranked No. 26 in its new classification. But against Class AA foes, the Tigers have enjoyed themselves, outscoring Independence and PikeView 98-36. Three of their final five games will be against AA opponents.
Meadow Bridge at Grundy (Va.)
The Wildcats (5-1) are looking to rebound from their first loss of the year last week against Valley. Now No. 10 in Class A, Meadow Bridge needs to find some wins down the stretch in order to get in position to host a first-round playoff game, one of its major goals.
Grundy (2-3) has lost three of its last four and will make its first of back-to-back ventures out of Virginia’s borders tonight.
Midland Trail at Clay County
Midland Trail (4-2) has been one of the big surprises of the 2012 season. The Patriots have won three in a row and four of their last five and are up to No. 18 in Class A. A win tonight could put them into the playoff picture.
Clay County (1-4), ranked No. 33 in Class AA, will be a much more difficult challenge than its record shows. The Panthers’ only win came against Ritchie County, but three of their four losses came by eight points or fewer, including a 36-31 loss to Valley and a 26-18 defeat at Nicholas County in the last two weeks.
Pendleton County at Valley
Pendleton County (3-3) is ranked No. 22 in Class A after losing back-to-back games to Meadow Bridge and East Hardy. But before those two losses, the Wildcats had allowed just 50 points in four games.
Valley’s magical year continued last week with a win over undefeated Meadow Bridge. The Greyhounds (5-0) are up to No. 3 in Class A and looking to continue climbing up that list.
Point Pleasant at Oak Hill
Point Pleasant (4-1) is No. 8 in Class AAA, with its only loss coming last week against Brooke — by only a single point. The Knights have victories over South Point (Ohio), Tolsia, Lewis County and Winfield, three of the four on the road.
Oak Hill (4-1), No. 11 in Class AAA, could continue the climb up the ladder with a win this week. The Red Devils seem to have adjusted well to the move up in class, winning four straight after a 43-36 loss to Elkins in the opener. They haven’t given up a single point in the last eight quarters, but tonight’s test could be their biggest of the season.
River View at Bluefield
River View (4-2) was rolling along having won four of five and two in a row before falling to Wyoming East 10-6 last week. Now No. 12 in Class AA, the Raiders need some wins to avoid falling out of the playoff race.
Bluefield (4-1) has been nearly flawless since losing to rival Graham (Va.) in the opener. Since then, the Beavers have won four straight and averaged 57.8 points per game. They’re now No. 6 in Class AA and looking to move closer to the top.
St. Albans at Princeton
St. Albans (0-6) is one of three winless teams in Class AAA, and it’s been outscored 267-134 in losses to Riverside, Capital, George Washington, Nitro, Parkersburg and South Charleston.
Princeton (0-6) is also winless under first-year head coach Randy Peek and has allowed 45 points per game.
Something has to give tonight.
Tug Valley at Westside
Tug Valley (5-1) is tied with Meadow Bridge at No. 10 in Class A. The Panthers’ only loss came at the hands of that same Meadow Bridge squad, and they have wins over Sherman, Mount View, Twin Valley, Tolsia and Hannan.
Westside (3-3) is No. 22 in Class AA and in need of a couple wins to get back into the top 16. The Renegades have lost two of their last three, including a 37-12 defeat against Class AA No. 1 Scott last week.
Tygarts Valley at Richwood
One of three winless teams in Class A, Tygarts Valley (0-5) has been outscored 221-46 this season. The Bulldogs were shut out last week against Gilmer County.
Richwood (2-4) has had an up and down year, but at No. 25 in Class A, it’s still in position to make some noise with a strong finish. A once-powerful offense that scored 77 points in its two early wins has scored just 40 points in its last three outings.
Wyoming East at PikeView
The Warriors (4-2) came back from a surprising loss to Mount View with a big win over River View last week. That helped propel them to No. 10 in the Class AA ratings.
PikeView (0-6) is one of four winless teams in Class AA and has been outscored 249-88 this season. The Panthers are coming off a 44-0 stomping on the road at Greenbrier West.