By Cam Huffman
At a little after 4 p.m. Thursday, Independence and Fayetteville had decided to cancel their game, scheduled for tonight in Fayetteville.
With no power in Fayetteville, no school in Fayette County and both schools’ home fields covered in snow, it looked as though there was no solution for getting the game played by Saturday, as the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission was requiring, in order to have the playoffs set by the end of the weekend.
An hour later — after calls from Concord University and Greenbrier East High School, offering their fields for play — the game was once again a possibility, although the time and location still hadn’t been determined.
At about 10 p.m. Thursday evening, the final decision was finally made. The two teams would meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium in Fairlea.
The above story was a familiar one for athletic directors and football coaches across the state, who spent the last couple days scrambling to schedule the final week of the high school football regular season after Hurricane Sandy left much of the Mountain State under snow and without power.
Here’s a look at the updated weekend schedule around the area.
Musselman vs. Shady Spring
(7 p.m. at Princeton)
Although the Tigers (5-4) are out of the playoff mix, this game means a great deal to Musselman (6-3), which was No. 11 in the latest WVSSAC ratings.
A win could put the Applemen, who were No. 6 in Class AAA last week before a lopsided loss to No. 2 Martinsburg, at home for the opening round of the playoffs, while a loss would likely give them a difficult assignment in the opening round, on the road against one of the state’s top teams.
For Shady fans, watching All-State quarterback Adam Weeks play his final high school game — and the possibility of the first Class AAA win of the year — will be worth the drive to Princeton, where the game was moved because of 18 inches of snow on the Tigers’ home field.
PikeView vs. Midland Trail
(7 p.m. at Greenbrier East)
This game doesn’t have playoff implications, either. Midland Trail (5-4) made a run at the playoffs, but at No. 21 in Class A, the Patriots look like they’re going to fall short of making the postseason in Class A.
PikeView (0-9) is obviously out of the Class AA playoffs, as well, but the Panthers would love to end the season with a win on the turf at Spartan Stadium in Fairlea, where the game was moved because of the weather.
Oak Hill at Lincoln County
Oak Hill (6-3) won’t get seeded as high as it could have if the Elkins forfeits had been upheld, but the Red Devils, No. 17 in Class AAA, should get into the postseason with a win tonight. On paper, that shouldn’t be much of a problem against a winless Lincoln County club that has been outscored 437-120 this season.
Valley at Summers County
Both of these teams will be in the playoffs, win or lose, but tonight’s game could be critical when it comes to seeding. Valley (8-1) enters the game at No. 8 in Class A and would be assured a first-round home game with a victory.
Summers County (6-3) is No. 12 in Class AA this week. Beating a Class A team won’t be enough to move the Bobcats up high enough to host a first-round game — and they’ll be in the playoffs even with a loss. But Summers County will at least avoid playing one of the top seeds in the opening round if it can pick up a victory tonight on its home field, which is cleared and ready for play.
Bluefield at Wayne
This game won’t mean much when it comes to the playoffs — both teams will open the Class AA postseason at home, no matter what — but it will certainly draw a lot of eyes from around the state as a battle of two of the favorites in Class AA.
Wayne (9-0), the defending state champion, has been a dominant force and is tied with Keyser as the No. 1 team in its class. If anybody is going to give the Pioneers a game, though, it would be No. 4 Bluefield (8-1), which has outscored opponents 468-234 this season and hasn’t lost since dropping the season opener to rival Graham (Va.).
Westside at River View
No game means more, when it comes to the postseason, than this one. It’s simple. The winner makes the Class AA playoffs, while the loser will have to stay at home.
Westside (5-4) was No. 14 this week, but the Renegades will slide out of the top 16 with a loss. River View (5-4) was outside of the playoff picture at No. 18 this week, but a win, and the bonus points that would come with it, would be enough to keep its season alive for at least one more week.
Mount View at Grundy, Va.
The Golden Knights (3-6) were flirting with the playoffs a few weeks ago after breaking a 31-game losing streak with a three-game winning run to improve to 3-4 and climb up the rankings. But back-to-back losses to Meadow Bridge and Westside ended those hopes.
Grundy is also 3-6 and in a similar position, so the two border rivals will be playing for pride tonight.
Independence vs. Fayetteville
(11 a.m. at Greenbrier East)
This game doesn’t matter much when it comes to the playoffs. Independence (4-5) enters the game at No. 25 in Class AA, while Fayetteville (0-9) is struggling through a less-than-memorable season in Class A.
But both coaches wanted to play the game, so they worked it out to hit the field before noon to make sure their players weren’t cheated out of a game.
Wyoming East vs. Liberty
(7 p.m. at Princeton)
The two schools made sure this game was played on a quality field for good reason. There’s a lot riding on the outcome.
Wyoming East (6-3) is in the playoffs, no matter what, but the Warriors, No. 11 in Class AA, have an outside shot of moving up into the top 8 with a victory tonight on the turf at Princeton.
Liberty (5-4), No. 19 in Class AA, needs a win to make the playoffs. The Raiders have some ground to make up, but the points, and bonus points, that they’d get from a win tonight would be enough to earn them a postseason position.
Greenbrier East at James Monroe
This game means nothing as far as playoffs, but it’s still important to the two schools from bordering counties.
The Class AAA Spartans (2-7) have had some major growing pains in Ray Lee’s first year on the sidelines, but a win over the Mavericks would be a good way to end the season and create some momentum heading into 2013.
James Monroe (2-7) has also had trouble competing, largely because of its youth, but with much of the team coming back, a win could be important to continuing to build the program back into the Class AA power that it was before a few difficult seasons.
Field conditions could be an issue in this one. The game was moved back a day to try to let the field, which was covered in snow on Tuesday, dry out. But it still could be a little sloppy, especially with more rain in the forecast.
Nicholas County at Richwood
The two schools tried their best, but the meeting between the old rivals could not be played.
Richwood was devastated by the storm, and there was no way the game could be contested on its home field. Moving it to the turf at Nicholas County was a possibility, but Summersville was hit by more than two feet of snow and much of the county is still without power.
It was eventually determined that even if the field could be cleared in time to play, it would be impossible to get the bleachers and parking lots ready to host a game by Saturday.
With no other options available, it was determined the game would just be canceled.
When it comes to the playoffs, Richwood (3-6) was out in Class A, anyway. Nicholas County (6-3), which was No. 8 in Class AA, will have its points divided by nine games instead of 10 to determine its rating.
“We were playing pretty well,” said Nicholas County head coach Gene Morris. “We won three in a row after an off week. So we would have liked to have kept the momentum going.
“But we haven’t even been able to practice this week. So it wouldn’t have been a good, competitive situation for either team. There were a lot of things to consider, and we had to realize that there were things that mattered other than football.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH