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The MoHawk Bowl is just another game in the coaches’ eyes

MORGANTOWN — For Sean Biser and John Kelley, this week’s playing of the MoHawk Bowl might as well be any Friday fall evening.

Neither head coach is going to bring out their best pre-game speech, nor will there be any galvanizing halftime hoopla.

Both coaches view this contest as just another game.

“We are doing the same things we always do to prepare for a game,” Biser, in his fourth season at MHS, said. “It’s a good rivalry, it’s a community game but it’s also the next game on the schedule.”

UHS head coach John Kelley, now in his 37th year at the helm of the Hawks, has a similar take on this contest.

“I think it is really nice for the community,” Kelley said. “It’s a nice rivalry. It’s good for the schools. It’s a good showcase for two great schools, excellent bands, excellent cheerleaders — but as far as we go, it’s no different than any other game.”

Eight games into the season, neither team is going to reinvent the wheel for this contest.

Morgantown (6-2) is going to rely on a diverse offense and a stingy defense while the Hawks (4-4) will look for the big play through their explosive pass offense.

The Mohigans are just 14 points away from possibly entering this contest undefeated. They are virtually a lock for the playoffs and a win over UHS this week along with a win over Linsly next week likely secures home field for the first round.

MHS allows just 10.9 points per game on defense while scoring 27.3 points per game on offense. The lone hiccups for the Mohigan defense were in a 26-16 loss to Wheeling Park and a 38-34 loss to Parkersburg South.

“They have all the advantages this year,” Kelley said. “They are very experienced. It’s a classic Morgantown High, Sean Biser team. They are very physical, very aggressive with lots of speed. They have all the tools.”

Defensive back and running back Bobby Powell is one of the main weapons for the Mohigans as he leads the team with 480 yards rushing and over 100 yards receiving on the season. He has also victimized the Hawks in previous meetings.

“Powell has been a thorn in our side for three years,” Kelley said. “He is a small kid with a giant heart. He is a game breaker, and they use him effectively.”

Caleb Nutter and AJ Thomas have also helped on the MHS ground game. Nutter is second on the team with 365 yards rushing while Thomas leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns.

“(UHS) is going to try to take something away,” Biser said. “We have to play off that. That is what our offense is based on. We have to find success on offense running jet, running inside.”

Last season, it was the Mohigans picking up a 21-20 win over the Hawks. Quarterback Maddox Bowers, now a senior, played a pivotal role in that contest as he asked Biser to run an inside give to Thomas for the winning score.

This year, Bowers has done plenty with his arm as he is closing in on 1,000 yards passing and has also thrown for eight touchdowns.

“Maddox is a smart kid,” Biser said. “He has been around a lot of football and sees the game really well.”

The quarterback on the other side of this contest, University’s Luke Hudson, is going to be key to the Hawks’ success. He has thrown for over 2,000 yards with 17 touchdowns and the big-play ability of the Hawks rests in Hudson’s right arm.

“It all starts with their QB,” Biser said. “He’s really good.”

Kelley acknowledged that the Hawks must walk a fine line of getting into a scoring battle with MHS and getting into a physical game.

“For us to have a chance, we have to keep it close,” Kelley said. “A low-scoring game like what we did with Wheeling Park. We can’t let them run up and down the field. We have to keep it close for a while and try to find a way to win.”

A victory for UHS against the Mohigans and a win the following week at Oak Hill might be enough for the Hawks to sneak into the playoffs.

In order to pull off the upset Friday, UHS will need more than just Hudson and his favorite targets Ethan Jackson (638 receiving yards and 10 TDs), John Coleman (386 receiving yards) and Kaleil Lewis (270 receiving yards). The UHS run game led by Melique Lewis will also have to help.

Lewis, a big bruising back with nimble feet, leads the UHS run game with 307 yards on the ground, but UHS has scored just five rushing touchdowns all season.

“They have some really good skill athletes,” Biser said. “(Melique Lewis) is tough to tackle and their defense has got some players. (Linebacker Brock) Kehler is a dude and (Anthony) Rivera is tough on their line.”

No matter how the game ends, both coaches can agree on one thing — this is just another game in their minds.