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PREP FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Clay-Battelle could make playoffs for first time since 2014; Premier Morgantown-Bridgeport battle will cap Mohigans’ regular season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Six years ago was the last time Clay-Battelle’s football team made the Class A playoffs, but that wait should end this year.

Currently, the Cee-Bees (3-1) are the 13th-ranked team in their class and a win over No. 17 Wirt County Friday would all but seal the deal for a team who’s dealt with adversity most of its season.

“As far as the playoffs, going to the playoffs is a reward to teams,” C-B coach Ryan Wilson said. “We haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014. If you’re a team that goes all the time, I don’t want to say it’s nothing new, but we haven’t been there for six years. For us, right now, at the single-A level, we’re competing against like 44 schools to get into the playoffs. There are teams in our division that have double the enrollment that we’re trying to compete against. There are some schools with 450 kids and we maybe have 180. Battling against that, it would be a feather in the cap for us, especially with the season we’ve had to deal with.

“Even this week, I give my kids credit, they’ve handled it better than I have. We’ve been on an emotional roller coaster.”

Wilson’s referring to Hundred having to cancel its game with the Cee-Bees after Wetzel Count turned gold on Saturday. Per the percent positivity metrics, Wetzel County then jumped to orange on Sunday but dropped back down to gold on Tuesday.

Although Wirt County may not be a major threat to the Cee-Bees on paper, Wilson knows his team can’t overlook a team that’s vying for a playoff spot as much as they are.

“We have tackle well, swarm the football again, get some pressure on the quarterback,” Wilson said. “They’re just a good, well-rounded football team. Their kicker does a nice job kicking deep, and their offense, they execute everything well.”

On the other hand, the Cee-Bees need to find ways to exploit Wirt’s well-rounded defense, too. Carson Shriver has been the dual-threat quarterback he was expected to be, and he’ll need to find what works early.

“Their defense is really aggressive,” Wilson said. “They get to the football quick, tackle well, they’re down low on tackles. Hopefully, we find what works quick and not in the fourth quarter, and build off that. We’re going to have to execute well, and it starts with the offensive line.”

Trinity on a roll, faces Wahama on the road

The Trinity Christian football team is on a roll, thanks mostly to its defense the last three weeks. Coach Chris Simpson’s offense has been clicking in the last three wins, too, but the defensive prowess was on display in last week’s 14-10 win over Steubenville Catholic (Ohio). 

The defense held SC quarterback Ryan Gorman to just 86 yards on a 10 of 16 performance. Further, freshman Carmelo Kniska and sophomore Levi Teets logged an interception each to help Trinity maintain its tight lead. The run defense was just as stifling, holding running back Charles Miller to 47 yards and one touchdown. Albeit Miller broke through the Warriors’ front a couple of times, the defense blew up Gorman 15 times for a total of minus-6 yards and Andrew Dorsey twice for a loss of seven yards.

Like Steubenville Catholic, the Warriors (3-2) next opponent will have plenty of playing time from this season. The Mason County team is one of the lucky ones in the state to have avoided COVID-19 spikes either among the team or in the county, but through its nine games, it’s just over the .500 mark with a 5-4 record. The kicker? The wins are over much weaker teams: Hannan, Hundred, Montcalm, Calhoun and PikeView. When given a chance against better competition, like Ritchie, Gilmer and Madonna, the White Falcons stumbled. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Morgantown schedules premier north-central battle with Bridgeport to end the regular season

The No. 12 Mohigans came out with a major win in the Mohawk Bowl, defeating rival University 69-15 in what was more of a statement that the Wing-T had returned to town. This week, though, they’ll go up against another run-heavy offense, the single wing, out of Bridgeport. 

Since jumping to Class AAA, the Indians (5-1) have dominated opponents while only losing to Spring Valley 35-10 two weeks ago. That, however, came after Harrison County re-entered playable territory after a spike of COVID-19 cases put a hold their four-game win streak. 

Morgantown has been on a three-game swing as the Mohigans (3-2) new offense started clicking after losses to top-10 teams Musselman and Wheeling Park. Since those losses, MHS has put up 185 points while only allowing 76. Most of those (40) came from Linsly’s spread. 

Further, the MHS defense has been stymying opposing runners for the last three weeks while equally shutting down receivers. Last week, it held UHS’s leading rusher, Eliki Barner, to 59 yards on 11 carries before he left the game and the Hawks’ standout quarterback, Chase Edwards, to 70 yards and a touchdown before he also left the game. Backup QB Jaeden Hammack stepped in for 76 yards and a score, most of which came on a late-game, 69-yard TD pass to T.T. Brooks. 

The single-wing will bring with it the same problems MHS has been creating for its opponents, though. A scheme that highlights a deep running corps, Morgantown will face one final test before they likely compete in the playoffs for the first time since 2018. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

UHS faces tough Oak Hill team in regular-season finale

Following a 69-15 defeat to crosstown rival Morgantown in the annual Mohawk Bowl, University will look to break even at Oak Hill on Friday night. 

The Hawks (2-3) were left bruised in the second half of last week’s blowout loss at MHS, as starting quarterback Chase Edwards was sidelined following a big hit. Starting running back Eliki Barner was also sidelined. While serious injuries were not reported, this is the second week Barner has been rested for preventative measures – after UHS’ blowout win over Preston, Barner was seen icing his shoulder. 

Edwards, who has been the leader of coach John Kelley’s spread, and his weapons, T.T. Brooks, Sage Clawges, Drew Burton and Jaedan Hammack, will look to do what they’ve done against Preston, Albert Gallatin and Wheeling Park, create one-on-one matchups downfield. 

For what it’s worth, the Red Devils (3-2) are coming off a rivalry win of their own, a 22-14 win over Woodrow Wilson. Further, Oak Hill only held a 7-6 lead at halftime despite outgaining the Flying Eagles 121-54. The win ended a two-game skid for Oak Hill who fell to powerhouses Spring Valley and Bluefield. Like Morgantown, Oak Hill won on the ground, racking up 314 yards between six runners. Unlike Morgantown, Oak Hill’s running corps is only three-strong and heavily leans on Te-amo Shelton who had more than half of the Red Devils’ yards (167) on 25 carries. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Preston ends regular season with Brooke

Preston High played its best game of the year last week against Buckhannon-Upshur, defeating the Buccaneers 34-0 at Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium. The Knights (2-7) will once again return to University High’s field to host Brooke, a team equal to B-U in almost every facet. 

But first, we look at the Knights, who snapped a two-game skid to dominate B-U from scrimmage. Two weeks ago, the Knights leaned heavily on Anthony Ramage in its loss to UHS, but towards the end of the game, Easton Gibbs had a 26-yard TD run that solidified a seven-rush, 75-yard night for the junior runner. Gibbs then exploded against the Buccaneers, leading Preston with 115 yards and three scores on 15 touches. It was likely a breath of relief for coach Jonathan Tennant who’s top runner, senior J.J. Townsend, left the Washington game early with an injury.  

Preston will need Gibbs’ explosive play Friday against the Bruins, who are coming off a 29-12 loss to rival Weir. The Red Riders were able to capitalize on the Bruins’ defense, putting up 195 yards on 37 carries and 150 yards in the air. However, the same goes for Preston. Throughout the season, the Knights defense has been competitive, but slight mistakes in coverage or offensive mistakes have essentially been the equalizer. Last week the script seemingly flipped, as PHS held B-U to 20 yards on the ground and 20 yards in the air. 

This week, though, they’ll need to play a complete game once more, especially with Brooke’s quick quarterback, Josh Shorts. Out of a 241-yard ground game, Shorts led the backfield with 161 yards on 17 carries. Weir got the better of him in the air, though, intercepting three of his passes.  

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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