By Cam Huffman
Just four weeks remain in the 2013 high school football regular season, and only a handful of area teams have been eliminated from playoff contention.
That makes every game more and more critical, and there are several teams that could make or break their postseason hopes tonight.
Here’s a look at the area games to watch.
n Woodrow Wilson
The Flying Eagles (3-3) are still alive for a playoff spot, currently ranked No. 20 in Class AAA. But with a difficult schedule ahead, they need some big wins. None would be bigger than downing the No. 5 Cougars tonight.
Capital (5-1) has lost only to Huntington this season and is fresh off a win over No. 10 Cabell Midland. The Cougars ran for 340 yards in that contest, most of it coming from junior Kashuan Halley, who rushed for 235 and a pair of touchdowns on 18 carries. Freshman Silas Nazario made the most of his seven carries, going for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Woodrow is led by quarterback Brent Osborne, who’s thrown for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Chase Hancock, who has 338 rushing yards and 390 receiving yards. Troy Lilly leads the defense with 63 total tackles.
n Wyoming East
at Shady Spring
Tied at No. 6 in Class AA, Wyoming East (6-1) has won three straight since falling to Summers County in its only defeat. The Warriors’ balanced offense is led by quarterback Aaron Griffith, who threw for 99 yards and three touchdowns in a win over PikeView last week. Jacob Summe rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in that win, while Coty Bishop had 81 yards and a score.
Shady Spring (1-5) has experienced some struggles this season but would love to put on a show for homecoming. Tyler Hanson leads the Tigers on the ground with 360 yards on 58 carries, and Woodrow Wilson transfer Timmy Culicerto has thrown for more than 560 yards after taking over for all-time great Adam Weeks at the quarterback spot.
n Lewis County
at Oak Hill
For the second week in a row, Oak Hill will be involved in one of the marquee matchups around the state in Class AAA. The Red Devils (5-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, a surprising blowout on the road at Point Pleasant. They’re still ranked No. 8 in Class AAA, though, and are playing to keep that homefield advantage and impress a homecoming crowd.
Jalen Jones has eclipsed 1,000 yards on the ground, while K.K. Goodman and Jarrell Green provide plenty of balance. The question comes on defense, where the Red Devils have given up plenty of points against their toughest opponents — 49 at Point Pleasant and 35 at Musselman.
Lewis County (5-1) has been very strong on defense, giving up just 79 points in six games. Ranked No. 12 in Class AAA, the Minutemen had two rushers eclipse the 100-yard mark last week as Dustin Martin went for 102 and Mark Metzgar ended the night at 112. Strength of schedule is a question, as Lewis County’s wins have come against teams with a combined record of 7-25.
n Greenbrier East
This is a critical game for both teams’ playoff hopes. Right now, the Spartans and the Wildcats are on the outside looking in at the Class AAA postseason picture, but both have a shot at reaching the top 16 if they can finish strong.
Greenbrier East (4-3) is ranked No. 23 after breaking a two-game slide with a big win over Lincoln County last week. Offense isn’t a problem. The Spartans are averaging 42 points per game, and quarterback Isaiah Kinder has thrown for 1,522 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 367 yards and eight more scores. His favorite targets are Kamen Reynolds and Colby Johnson, who have 461 and 423 receiving yards, respectively. Dalton Cline provides the balance. He’s rushed for 930 yards and seven touchdowns.
The problem comes on defense, where the Spartans are allowing 37.5 points per game. They gave up 53, 57 and 56 in losses to Woodrow Wilson, Bluefield and University, respectively.
Logan (4-2) is No. 18 in Class AAA, but it lost decidedly to Point Pleasant (37-21) and University (49-20) in its two biggest games. The Wildcats’ biggest win came against Class AA No. 17 Chapmanville.
Last week, Brynden “Worm” Street rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown against University, and Jacob Browning led the Wildcats with 12 tackles. Logan prefers to run the football and doesn’t put it in the air often.
n Webster County
at Greenbrier West
A depleted Webster County team dressing just 18 players will certainly have its hands full against Class A No. 8 Greenbrier West (6-1) on homecoming night in Charmco.
West, which has allowed just 65 points in seven games, is more than stingy on defense and came up with a touchdown and a safety in last week’s win over Pocahontas County.
Offensively, the Cavaliers are paced by quarterback Malik Boatwright and quarterback Cory Cox, both a threat to go the distance on any play.
Webster County (1-6) will be seeing a top 16 team for the sixth time this season tonight. The Highlanders are led by quarterback Jake Thayer and running back Walker Lawson.
n Westside at
Ranked No. 22 in Class AA, Westside’s playoff hopes would receive a major boost with a win over the No. 3 team in the class. A loss, though, would virtually end any dreams of a postseason appearance for the Renegades, who come into tonight’s game with a 3-4 record.
There has been some good news for Westside, including the return of quarterback Justin Cogar, who threw for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 12 attempts last week. Mike Mullens continues to impress on the ground as one of Class AA’s top rushers. He went for 170 last week.
Bluefield (5-1), who has only lost to Class AAA rival Princeton, has been an offensive machine during its four-game winning streak. The Beavers are averaging 52 points per game and piled up 463 yards on the ground last week at River View. The defense is becoming better and better and has given up only 11 points per game over the last four contests.
Catholic at Valley
For Valley (6-0), the motivation is clear. The No. 3 team in Class A is staring down perfection and hoping to move one step closer tonight.
Parkersburg Catholic (6-1) is ranked No. 14 in Class A and could be one of the Greyhounds’ most difficult tests along the way.
The Crusaders’ only loss this season came on the road against Class A No. 1 St. Mary’s, and they’ve outscored the opposition 221-62 in their six victories. Last week against South Harrison, Parkersburg Catholic allowed just 199 yards of total offense in a 37-14 win.
Jake Boice led the offensive attack in that game with 103 yards on 15 carries.
The Greyhounds’ top offensive producers are quarterback Raeshawn Breckenridge and running back Keyshawn Payne, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game four times this season.
n Meadow Bridge
at Summers County
Class A No. 12 Meadow Bridge (6-1) has had a big year, but the Wildcats fell short in their only shot at a signature win, losing to Class A No. 3 Valley. Tonight will provide another opportunity, though, as Class AA No. 6 Summers County (6-1) is also in the middle of a memorable season.
The Wildcats’ offensive attack is no secret. Kennedy Award candidate Jake Parker has rushed for 1,753 yards this season and is averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. Meadow Bridge isn’t shy about putting the ball in his hands early and often.
The Bobcats, though, will provide a stiff challenge. Their only loss came on the road at Covington, Va., and last week against Independence they forced four turnovers in the opening half. T.J. Smith and Isaiah Brown have combined for more than 1,000 yards on the ground.
n Lincoln County
at Nicholas County
Class AAA Lincoln County (0-6) has yet to find a win this season and has been outscored 327-83 in six games. The last team the Panthers probably want to see is Class AA No. 11 Nicholas County this week.
The Grizzlies (5-2) are coming off a big win over Webster County that saw quarterback Tyler Sagraves throw for 175 yards and three touchdowns and Wil Mayes run for 111 yards. Against Class AA/A competition, the Nicholas County defense is giving up less than seven points per game.
n Midland Trail
Midland Trail (2-4) has likely been eliminated from playoff contention, but the Patriots are still looking to finish strong. Offense has been the biggest problem, as they’ve scored just 83 points in six games and have been shut out twice.
Montcalm (1-6) is also desperate for a victory. The Generals have lost six in a row, all to teams outside of the Mountain State borders.
Dakota Lantern had two rushing touchdowns last week for Montcalm, which has averaged nearly 30 points per game.