Local Sports, Sports

PREP NOTEBOOK: Morgantown looking for win 2 against Linsly; John Kelley and UHS ready to redeem 2019 loss to Preston

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A week after dominating Parkersburg South, Morgantown coach Sean Biser reflected on the first win of the season. Good things happened and, overall, he was pleased with how his team performed, but he also knows there’s room for improvement. 

And now hosting their third home game of the year, this time against Linsly, Biser has been fine-tuning the offense that his players are still trying to learn in full. 

“It’s a work in progress,” Biser said. “They’re picking it up, but is it where we need it to be? Absolutely not. We stress that to them every day in practice – we have to take care of the little things whether it’s warming up correctly, carrying out plays correctly, seat the ball correctly, all those little things in this offense are crucial. I think we’ve definitely improved but it’s a slow process. 

“[Linsly] can’t even participate in WVSSAC because they can house kids and recruit any kid they want. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve got some great skill kids, a big quarterback [who’s] very experienced. Hunter Kelley, he’s big, runs the ball and throws the ball very well. They put some athletes in space, pressure you both on the edges and in the running game, and then up front they have some gargantuan-sized kids – 300 pounders, 290 pounders – so we really have our work cut out for us there.” 

So far, Kelley has helped lead the Cadets (5-2) through some solid wins over Ohio and Pennsylvania schools as well as a big 42-7 win over Weir and a 33-19 win over Parkersburg South. Further, Linsly’s only losses are to Wheeling Park and Steubenville. 

MHS (1-2) showed last week they are capable of deploying many different rushers with success – Caden Biser, Deondre Crudup and Davon Eldridge all had over 100 yards – but going up against a strong defense that’s held runners in check, it could prove tough on the Mohigans. It could also be favorable for them. Without one rusher for opponents to focus on, the Mohigans have a more balanced offense to deploy against staunch defenses. 

“We never go into the game say, ‘This kid is going to get 10 carries, this one’s going to get 25 carries,’ it’s just the way it works out,” Biser said. “Our offense isn’t about one guy. We could have the leading rusher in the state, but we’re going to have a brunch of rushers that are equally yards per carry because that’s how we create balance in our offense.” 

Of all the runners, though, Eldridge was the leading rusher last week after a few quiet weeks following a summertime transferral from Trinity Christian to Morgantown. Just a freshman last year, Eldridge showed potential to be a threat out of the backfield and with an older, more experienced offensive line he’s beginning to prove that. Biser has noticed this, too. 

“The thing about Davon, people forget he’s a sophomore,” Biser said. “He’s really athletic and physical and I want our team to be physical, so he meets that requirement. That’s always a good thing when you’re able to do that at this level. He needs to keep working on his game, find the weaknesses and keep trying to improve those.” 

Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Pony Lewis Field.

University ‘has all their weapons’ ready for Preston 

A Preston defense that is struggling against the run versus a University running back that’s getting better each week is what highlights this season’s installment of the neighboring county rivalry between the Knights (1-6) and Hawks (1-2). 

Still, though it’s not a true rivalry UHS coach John Kelley didn’t mince his words following the Hawks’ loss to Wheeling Park on Friday. 

“I’ve looked forward to this game for the entire year since what happened to us when we went up there last year, and they better come in here prepared because we’re going to have every gun and every bit of everything we do ready for this,” Kelley said. “We were robbed up there, and we’re looking to prepare well and maybe some payback.”  

He’s referring to the Hawks’ loss in Kingwood last season to a Knights team that went on to win out its season en route to the program’s first playoff appearance in years. But this year is much different. University is a better, more experienced team, while Preston hasn’t performed the way coach Jonathan Tennant expected leading up to Week 1. 

And when it comes to their run defense woes, Preston gave up 170 yards and two touchdowns to Washington QB Frankie Amore on Friday in the Patriots blowout 35-8 win. Other games that boasted top runners – John Marshall and Robert C. Byrd – ended similarly. Now, the Knights are faced with Eliki Barner, who went toe-to-toe with Park’s defense last week and racked up 181 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. And being that he’s been steadily increasing his production and load, he should have a good night against a much weaker defense. 

For Preston, J.J. Townsend remains a reliable option out of the backfield, but he’ll have to break through a strong UHS defensive front who contained Park’s star running back Steven Mitchell until the second half when the senior dominated the field. 

Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium. 

Clay-Battelle hosts Conotton Valley (Ohio)

After a blowout win in their season-opening game against Valley (Wetzel), the coin flipped last Friday for Clay-Battelle who was defeated by Cameron 44-21. This week they face a similarly tough opponent in Conotton Valley (Ohio) who is also looking to bounce back following a loss of their own. 

The Rockets (5-3) have had an up and down year, starting .500 in the first two games of the year before riding a three-game win streak into the ground with a loss to in-state opponent Caldwell. Followed by a forfeit win two weeks ago and a brutal 42-6 defeat to Newark Catholic last week, Conotton Valley is coming to Blacksville looking to get a repeat win against the Cee-Bees. 

Last year, Clay-Battelle hung on with the Rockets until late in the game when a last-minute touchdown sealed a 28-22 victory for CVHS. Being that the home field advantage has flipped and the Cee-Bees maintain a big threat in Carson Shriver who had 63 yards and two touchdowns in the air and 110 yards and a score on the ground last week, it’s unclear who has a distinct advantage. 

Still, Clay-Battelle (1-1) will need to contain the run after last week’s poor performance against the Dragons who put up 376 yards – 313 by first-year running back Issac Ball – and six scores. 

Kick off is set for 7 p.m. 

Trinity heads to Beallsville (Ohio)

Trinity Christian School picked up their first win of the year last week against Valley (Wetzel) at home, but a road game against Beallsville (Ohio) will test the Warriors. 

After two rough weeks, sophomore quarterback Drew Boczek finally had some time in the pocket to work against the Lumberjacks, showing those in attendance what he could do in a short amount of time with 105 yards and two touchdowns off a 4 of 7 performance. No, that’s not a typo, but rather the product of being pinned to just a few minutes of possession in the game. To hammer that home, Trinity had just 10 offensive plays in the first half compared to Valley’s 41, but they still managed to lead 14-6 at halftime. 

While credit goes to Boczek who had one TD pass to Levi Teets in the second quarter and running back Calvin Blunt Jr. whose 57-yard run in the first quarter put the Warriors on the board, most of the credit goes to coach Chris Simpson who worked his team out of the corner and went on to control the second half. This week the former offensive coordinator, Boczek and Blunt will need to work their magic again against a Beallsville team that isn’t as bad as they look on paper. 

The Blue Devils (1-5) lone win came over Hundred on Sept. 11, a 42-8 blowout, but since then they’ve been riding a three-game skid to much tougher opponents Bridgeport (Ohio), Southern (Ohio) and Madonna. Their offense has been able to work, though, averaging nearly 20 points a game (19.6) whereas, in Trinity’s losses, they’ve been unable to secure more than 14. Still, Trinity’s defense is much stronger and has contained opponents to 23 points per game while opponents have hung more than 40 points on Beallsville in every loss – two of which the defense allowed opponents to break the 60-point threshold. 

Kick off is set for 7 p.m.

TWEET @andrewspellman_