By Cam Huffman
With the playoffs inching closer and closer, every game becomes more and more critical and the spotlight on are high school football players shines brighter and brighter.
The best players often produce some of their biggest moments on such a stage, and that was the case Friday night as five game ball winners stepped up their games in critical victories for their teams.
Here’s a look at the top area performers from Week 9 of the high school football season.
Dalton Cline (Greenbrier East) — The Greenbrier East junior became the 11th back in Spartan history to top the 1,000-yard mark on the ground for a season when he rushed for 209 yards and a touchdown in Greenbrier East’s 27-20 win at Parkersburg South Friday. He also caught a pass for nine yards in helping the Spartans (5-4) clinch a winning season and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Corey Cox (Greenbrier West) — Cox is often overshadowed by Cavalier quarterback Malik Boatwright, but Cox was difficult to ignore in West’s 41-14 win over James River (Va.). He rushed for 81 yards on 15 carries and caught three passes for 25 yards. Perhaps most importantly, he found the end zone four times in helping the Cavs improve to 8-1.
Wil Mayes (Nicholas County) — The Grizzlies’ workhorse rushed 17 times for 159 yards and five touchdowns in Nicholas County’s dominating 47-0 win over River View. Nicholas County improved to 7-2 with the victory, which also saw Mays catch a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Sagraves.
Jake Parker (Meadow Bridge) — Parker has fallen behind in the race for the state’s Kennedy Award in recent weeks — not because of anything he’s done wrong, but instead because of some incredible performances by Morgantown running back Chazzy Thomas. Parker made sure he sent a reminder that he was still around as he rushed for 255 yards and six touchdowns in three quarters of action. He carried the ball just 19 times to put up those totals as Meadow Bridge improved to 7-2.
Matt Ryan (Summers County) — The Summers County quarterback came up big in a 61-0 trouncing of Mount View Friday. He completed three of the four passes he attempted for 69 yards, and each one went for a Bobcat touchdown. He carried the ball four times for 40 yards and caught a 2-point conversion pass. Ryan had five tackles in the first half but only played one series after halftime with the lead clearly in hand. Summers County moved to 8-1 with the win.
Just a handful of game balls are awarded each week — and those five become the finalists for player of the week honors, which will be announced in Wednesday’s Register-Herald — but there were plenty of other performances worth of some recognition.
Malik Boatwright (Greenbrier West) — The Cavalier quarterback did nothing out of the ordinary in the win over James River. But his ordinary is pretty spectacular. Boatwright ran 16 times for 79 yards, completed 6 of 9 passes for 51 yards and ran for a touchdown. On defense, he was responsible for an interception and a fumble recovery.
Isaiah Brown (Summers County) — The Bobcat running back’s numbers weren’t eye-popping. He caught two passes for 61 yards and rushed twice for 34 yards. Brown, though, found the end zone on half of those six touches.
Isaiah Kinder (Greenbrier East) — The Spartan quarterback — who is approaching 2,000 yards through the air and 500 yards on the ground — had another big night, throwing for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns and rushing for 37 yards and another score. He also scored on a critical 2-point conversion run that helped East take a 7-point lead in the closing minutes.
Brent Osborne (Woodrow Wilson) — It wasn’t a winning effort as the Flying Eagles (3-5) fell on the road at Princeton, but the Woodrow quarterback did his part. Osborne rushed for 131 yards on just 10 carries and completed 6 of 10 passes for 39 yards. He found the end zone twice on the ground, kicked three extra points and helped keep Woodrow in the game until the end.
Tasheem Saunders (Fayetteville) — In the Pirates’ dominating 38-14 win over Buffalo, Saunders rushed 14 times for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns and caught a 3-yard pass. Fayetteville improved to 3-5 with the victory.
Dante Wilkerson (Valley) — The Greyhounds stayed undefeated, despite an early threat, downing Richwood 40-9, and Wilkerson played a vital role in the victory. He got the scoring started with a 15-yard first-quarter touchdown run and found the end zone again with a 94-yard fourth-quarter scamper that really put the game on ice. He finished the game with 129 rushing yards on just seven carries. He also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
— E-mail: chuffman
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.