MORGANTOWN — The University High football team is 6-0 for the first time since 2017.
“We don’t have anybody on this team that was on that one, but they are taking the same approach, which is to understand that it’s a magical run and you have to take it one game at a time,” said Hawks head coach John Kelley, in his 35th season with the UHS program. “We don’t say that we’re going to go 10-0; they can’t look at it that way. They say that the next game is the most-important game.”
That next game for the No. 4 Hawks is a road contest against the 2-4 Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers.
“I think their record indicates how young they are,” Kelley said. “They’ve lost to some really good teams.”
B-U enters the game against University following a 31-14 win over Lewis County, snapping a three-game losing streak in the “Battle for the Pick Axe” rivalry. The Buccaneers start just three seniors on both sides of the ball and several freshmen see key playing time this season.
In the recent victory, the Buccaneers were led by Savion Farmer, who carried 20 times for 196 yards and a 57-yard touchdown run. Farmer, a junior, has more than 600 rushing yards on the year. Elijah Bryant also sees a fair share of carries. He went for 76 yards and a touchdown against Lewis County.
“They run a Pro-I and a Power-I,” Kelley said. “There’s a solid speed back and a power back and they’re big. There’s four linemen who are right around 300 pounds.”
Ian Donnen is the B-U quarterback, though he doesn’t pass a whole lot. Last week, he had just two pass attempts and has thrown less than 15 times this season.
The Buccaneers’ defense forced two fumbles last week and also have a win against Philip Barbour. B-U has lost to Ripley, Greenbrier East and John Marshall. The game against Bridgeport was canceled and forfeited.
“This was a team effort tonight,” first-year head coach Zach Davis told mybuckhannon.com following last week’s win. “Offense, defense and special teams all contributed.”
The Hawks also had a complete-game victory last week, knocking off Albert Gallatin, 36-14. UHS was down early but rallied back for a strong second half. The Hawks’ defense held the Colonials scoreless in the last two quarters after being tied at 14 at halftime.
“It was the first time all year where we’ve faced adversity because we’ve usually jumped on people early,” Kelley said. “They drove right down the field and scored and then came back and scored again. We were having trouble stopping them. I knew their offense was going to be a problem. They ran a power-single wing and they were just moving the chains all night and keeping our offense off the field.”
University ran 10 offensive plays in the first quarter and had just 18 plays total in the first half.
Colin McBee continued his strong season and now has 485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. He found the end zone three times against Albert Gallatin.
Chase Edwards and Sage Clawges hooked up on a 21-yard passing touchdown to close out the first half last week. Clawges had four catches for 95 yards, bringing his season total up to 452 yards and 23 catches.
Edwards is 87-for-137 passing on the year for 1,442 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Hawks recorded their fifth fumble recovery of the season against Albert Gallatin, with Jaeden Hammack picking it up and running 21 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
“I think we wore them down, which is what I was the most proud of,” Kelley said. “We had more energy in the fourth quarter and took over. They were still a strong opponent and one of the better teams we’ve played.”
Kelley said the physical nature of the Albert Gallatin game caused some injuries to his team and they were taking some things slowly this week in order to nurse back to full health by Friday. Staying healthy will be the key to continuing this “magical” run for the rest of the season.
Although it’s this next game which is the most important.
“They’re very mature and they’re very experienced and that 2017 team was the same way,” Kelley said. “They know the situation and they’ve handled every challenge so far.”
The 2017 University football team did go 10-0 in the regular season. The Hawks won a first-round playoff game before falling to Capital in the state quarterfinals.
By MATTHEW PEASLEE