By Cam Huffman
The WVSSAC released its first rankings of the 2013 high school football season earlier this week, and the jockeying for positioning has begun.
Some area teams are fighting to move closer to the top of their respective classes, while others are simply trying to find their way inside the top 16 in order to earn a spot in the postseason.
Here’s a look at some of the interesting games involving area teams this week.
The Tigers (0-3) finally got on the scoreboard last week, posting two second-half touchdowns against Greenbrier East, but they’ve still been outscored 164-14 in three games. Those contests, though, were against Princeton, Logan and Greenbrier East, three Class AAA teams who are a combined 7-2. Jonathan Hardy had a solid game on the ground last week, rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Independence (1-2) has also experienced some struggles this year under new head coach Chris Vicars. After a 28-21 win over Class A Midland Trail in the opener, the Class AA Patriots fell to Class AA PikeView 9-6 on the road and then were shut out against Class A No. 1 Greenbrier West 55-0 the last time out. Dustin Justice has been a bright spot for Indy, rushing for 192 yards on 37 carries.
Shady Spring won last year’s meeting between the two old rivals 42-6.
The Pirates (2-1) are one of the area’s hottest teams. After a winless season in 2012 and a lopsided loss to defending Class A champion Wahama in the 2013 opener, Fayetteville, ranked No. 18 in Class A, has outscored its last two opponents — Midland Trail and Richwood — 113-6. Running back Tasheen Saunders has been key to that turnaround, rushing for 339 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Will Fenton has completed 23 of 32 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns.
Meadow Bridge, ranked No. 8 in Class A, was a playoff team last year, and the Wildcats are heading in that direction again. Behind the running of state player of the year candidate Jake Parker, who has rushed for 829 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead all of Class A, the Wildcats are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents — Van, Tug Valley and Midland Trail — 140-34.
Meadow Bridge won last year’s meeting between the two schools 8-6.
at Oak Hill
After a 6-0 shutout loss to Class A No. 1 Greenbrier West to open the season, the Grizzlies (2-1), the No. 14 team in Class AA, have found some offense. They scored three touchdowns in a 21-14 road win at Poca and then upped that total to 33 points in a lopsided win over East Fairmont last week. Wil Mayes leads the ground attack, racking up 260 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries, while Tyler Sagraves has thrown for 346 yards.
Oak Hill (2-0), ranked No. 7 in Class AAA, had an early bye last week after impressive road wins at Elkins and Musselman to start the season. Jalen Jones is one of the front-runners for the state’s player of the year award. He’s rushed for 504 yards and seven touchdowns on 45 carries. He’s also very dangerous in the return game.
Oak Hill won last year’s game 40-0.
The Patriots (0-3) are off to a rough start, having been outscored 132-27 so far this season, despite playing the first three games at home. Ryan Wilson leads Trail with 161 yards rushing on 46 carries.
Richwood (1-2) got off to a great start with a road win at Webster County, but the Lumberjacks were outscored 107-7 the last two weeks in losses to Greenbrier West and Fayetteville. Logan Cox has thrown for 230 yards in three games, while Michael Adams is the Lumberjacks’ top rushing threat.
Midland Trail won last year’s game 15-13.
Mount View at
The Golden Knights (0-3) have found very little offense so far, scoring just 12 points through the first three games, all at home. They’ve played enough defense, though, to stay in games.
Liberty (1-2) picked up its first win of the year last week, coming from behind to knock off PikeView. Offense has been a struggle, though, as the Raiders are averaging less than seven points per game. Christian Whittaker has become Liberty’s go-to back.
Liberty won last year’s game 42-26.
The Miners (2-1) rebounded from a tough 27-26 opening loss to Wyoming East with road wins at Tolsia and Webster County. They’re ranked No. 15 in Class AA behind the efforts of running back Chance Lester and Deonte Joplin, who also has a kickoff return for a touchdown this season.
Westside (1-2) has gone the opposite direction. The Renegades, tied for 20th in Class AA, were impressive in a 44-16 win over Liberty to open the season in head coach Larry Cook’s debut, but they fell to rival Wyoming Eat 35-6 the next week and then dropped a home decision to Man 22-14. Cook has found plenty of production out of Mike Mullens, who’s one of the top rushers in Class AA with 535 yards and eight touchdowns on 65 carries.
Mingo Central won last year’s game 37-24.
Clay County (1-2) hasn’t left the comforts of home yet this season, but home hasn’t always been sweet, either. Clay County sandwiched a 37-20 win over Braxton County between losses to Roane County and Ritchie County.
Valley (2-0) had an early week off in Week 2, but the Greyhounds didn’t look rusty when they defeated Van 40-20 to stay perfect. The Hounds are ranked No. 8 in Class A and led by Keyshawn Payne, who has rushed for 228 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Raeshawn Breckenridge has thrown for 294 yards.
Valley won last year’s game 36-31.
The No. 1 team in Class A, the Cavaliers (3-0) have looked almost unbeatable in the early going. The offense sputtered but the defense held up in a 6-0 win over Class AA Nicholas County to open the season, but the offense has come to life as the Cavs outscored Richwood and Independence 101-7 the last two weeks. Quarterback Malik Boatwright topped 100 yards on the ground last week and throws enough to keep defenses honest. Tailback Corey Cox rushed for 95 yards on just 11 carries last week.
Buffalo (0-3) beat Greenbrier West 29-20 last season, West’s only regular season loss. This year’s Bison have struggled through some tough tests, including a pair of Class AA teams in River View and Poca and a strong Parkersburg Catholic squad.
Parry McCluer (Va.)
at Greenbrier East
The Fighting Blues from Buena Vista, Va., are off to a 3-0 start with wins over Rockbridge County, Buffalo Gap and Page County in Virginia. They’ve outscored opponents 72-30 in those games. The alma mater of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has already beaten some bigger schools this year and will look to do it again in Fairlea.
Greenbrier East (2-1), ranked No. 21 in Class AAA, rebounded from a heated loss to rival Woodrow Wilson with a 56-14 thrashing of Raleigh County’s other Class AAA team, Shady Spring, last week. Running back Dalton Cline is among the state’s rushing leaders with 486 yards on 55 carries, while quarterback Isaiah Kinder has hurt opponents through the air and on the ground. He’s thrown for 722 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for 235 yards and four scores. His favorite target in the passing game, Kamen Reynolds, has caught 14 passes for 303 yards.