By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
— Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of previews on this weekend’s area playoff matchups. Check Friday and Saturday’s Register-Herald for previews of other area games.
PATH TO THE POSTSEASON
There were certainly a number of bumps along the way for the Warriors. A loss to their county rival. An embarrassing loss to a team that had not won a game in three years. A 31-point loss to a small Class AAA team.
But there were also high points, from wins over playoff teams Summers County (33-20) and River View (10-6), to a solid 41-22 victory over Liberty in their regular-season finale last Saturday.
The reward is Wyoming East’s first playoff berth in four years. The Warriors were a combined 8-22 the last three seasons — only one more win than they have in 2012.
To think, it all could have crumbled on Sept. 21.
Wyoming East went to Welch and lost 18-15 to Mount View. It certainly was not the first time a team had gone to Mount View and lost — it just hadn’t happened in a while.
The Golden Knights had lost 31 straight games dating back to 2009 before topping the Warriors.
But to their credit, the Warriors seemed to use that as a wakeup call. They won four of their next five games to earn their playoff spot.
Junior running back Jacob Summe has led Wyoming East with 1,209 yards and eight touchdowns on 214 carries. Providing a nice complement has been 6-foot-1, 245-pound senior Chris Cecil (90-430, 10 TDs).
Sophomore quarterback Aaron Griffith has completed 36 of 84 passes for 423 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. His main target has been junior receiver Christian Hedinger, who has 16 catches for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
Hedinger also has four interceptions on defense. Coty Bishop has a team-high 51 tackles and shares the team lead in sacks (three) with Ty Treadway.
The Skyhawks won their first six games and were riding high. But they have since lost three of four to finish the regular season at 7-3.
If a seven seed seems a little high for a team that seems to be on a tailspin, consider that two of the losses were to Class AAA teams and the other was to Class AA No. 1 and defending state champion Wayne.
“When most teams played Wayne, I think they were already chalking it up as a loss,” Scott coach Shane Griffith said. “The thing is, we fumbled six times against Robert C. Byrd and five times against Logan, and both are very good teams. If you turn the ball over like that against good teams, you are going to lose.”
Scott has overcome a litany of injuries — an assortment of torn cartilage and broken bones — to take its spot as a home playoff team. The Skyhawks should be as close to completely healthy as possible for the postseason.
Running back Robert Bias has run for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns for Scott. Junior Cameron Loftus has 729 yards and nine touchdowns, and sophomore Tristan Crone has 496 yards and 10 TDs.
Quarterback Cody Brown, a junior, has completed 38 of 77 attempts for 500 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
The winner of this game will take on either No. 2 Keyser or No. 15 Mingo Central. Wyoming East beat Mingo Central in Week 1. Scott is looking to continue moving forward as it has since Griffith took over 13 years ago.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chris Cecil, Utility — Cecil does it all. He runs the ball with authority. He has 15 extra points and two field goals. And he has recovered three fumbles and made 43 tackles. Oh, yeah — he returns kickoffs, too.
Robert Bias, RB — The senior is a 1,000-yard rusher for the Skyhawks and gains 6.6 yards per carry.
Tristan Crone, LB — Crone is one of Scott’s leading tacklers.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Scott will need to keep East from having early success. The Warriors are building on a strong close to their regular season, and if they seize momentum they could ride the wave all the way to the second round.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“We lost our last two home games and we want the community to get behind us. If we want the community to be willing to travel with us, we have to convince the fans that the show is worth watching.” — Shane Griffith