Small town football in West Virginia can have its ups and downs.
Class A co-No. 5's, Greenbrier West and Midland Trail can bare witness to that roller coaster ride having experienced excellent seasons, coupled with times of struggle.
The last few battles between the Patriots and the Cavaliers have found both teams on the opposite end of good and bad seasons. However, that will not be the case tonight in what is sure to be an old-fashioned donnybrook in Charmco.
"(Greenbrier West) is big and physical and I think we can be physical at times," Midland Trail head coach, Frank Isaacs said. "It is going to be a slugfest and I think it will be a really fun game to watch."
Prior to the 2019 campaign, Greenbrier West had won just two games in each of the previous two seasons. During that time, Trail was making big noise in the playoffs.
Those times are now a distant memory for West as it enters the game riding a five-game win streak and a 7-1 record. The only setback for West was on the road in week three to Class AA No. 15, James Monroe.
Greenbrier West relies heavily on the run, rushing for 2,407 as a team, with 34 touchdowns. Junior Noah Brown leads the Cavs with 1,381 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Brown has also been a threat in the passing game with 12 catches for 225 yards and two more scores.
Quarterback Kaiden Pack has accounted for over 700 yards of total offense and has seven touchdowns to compliment Brown.
Trail has also put together a successful season while battling mounds of adversity.
Every team battles injuries during the season, but Midland Trail (6-2) has taken that battle to the extreme this year. It's a battle that Isaacs has not enjoyed fighting.
"It has been ridiculous. I have never seen anything like it, really. At one time we had eight starters out," Isaacs explained. "I still think we've had a pretty good season, but we will finish the year with six starters completely out. We get the kids in and coach them up each week and hope for the best."
One of the players that has faced the injury battle is Trail's standout running back, Colton Yoder.
After starting the season with a bang, injuries have limited Yoder over a four-game stretch prior to the Buffalo win last week. The senior rusher returned to full action, but it didn't go quite as planned.
"We didn't run him in the first half because I wanted to ease him back into the game," Isaacs said. "I let him play defense, but I didn't want to play him on offense or special teams. We needed a boost at halftime, so we told him he was going to get the ball until the game was over. I think he had like 12 carries for over 90 yards."
Although both teams appear to have solid footing in regards to the playoffs in two weeks, there is still plenty at stake in tonight's clash.
"A win (tonight) will most likely solidify home field advantage in the first (playoff) game," Isaacs said. "If one of us wins out, we might get two home games."
Isaacs feels his team will come to Charmco ready to play.
"I feel really confident that we are going to go up there and play a good game," Isaacs said. "Greenbrier West is physical, but we have to challenge them to see."
Raleigh County will be the site of two Class AA battles this evening that have huge playoff implications.
Liberty (4-4) hosts No. 8 Shady Spring (8-1) in Glen Daniel, while Coal City will be the site for Independence (6-3) and No. 14, Wyoming East (6-2).
Four losses will make it tough for the Raiders to make the postseason, but, a win over the Tigers tonight and Wyoming East next week will give Liberty a big boost in the ratings.
Shady, on the other hand, is in line for a possible home playoff game with a win over its county rival. The Tigers have some lethal offensive weapons led by quarterback Drew Clark who is coming off a five-touchdown performance against Braxton County. The Tigers' defense averages forcing three turnovers per game and will be a huge test for the Raiders' offense.
Wyoming East could make the playoffs with one win over its last two games. Then again, that it is far from a guarantee. The best scenario for the Warriors is to win out and leave no doubt.
The boys from New Richmond have been led by a stout offense which includes the running of Caleb Bower who has rushed for 1,255 yards and the strong arm of Seth Ross who has thrown for 1,253 yards.
Indy is led by running back, Atticus Goodson who was sidelined most of last week's game at Nicholas County. If Goodson cannot go tonight, it could be a long night for the home team.
Class AAA No. 9 Greenbrier East (5-3) can secure a playoff spot tonight with a win over visiting Princeton. The Spartans dropped a road game at No. 3 Parkersburg South last week, while Princeton (2-6) was knocking off Ripley.
East still has a home playoff game well within its grasp, provided they do not get caught sleeping against the Tigers who would love nothing more than to knock off its longtime rival.
East is not the only team looking to secure a home playoff game tonight. Class AA No. 6 Bluefield hosts No. 15 James Monroe at Mitchell Stadium where a win could vault them inside the top-4 of the playoff ratings.
The task will not be easy as the Mavs are also needing a win tonight for its playoff dreams.
The remainder of the schedule features Calhoun County (2-6) at Meadow Bridge (4-4), who still has an outside chance for the playoffs, and Class AA No. 12 Nicholas County (6-2) traveling to Westside (1-7). PikeView (1-8) makes the long trip to Clay County (5-2), while Summers County (3-6) is at Richwood (2-6) and Woodrow Wilson (1-7) battles Class AAA No. 7 George Washington (5-3).
Oak Hill is off this week.
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