The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Sports

November 6, 2013

‘Hounds seek 10-0 record; Red Devils look to solidify playoff position

SMITHERS — The week started in pretty normal fashion.

There was weightlifting, some film work and a shorter practice on Monday, followed by a junior varsity game at Clay.

The Valley Greyhounds entertain high hopes the week will result in an extraordinary finish.

This Friday at WVU Tech’s Martin Field, the Greyhounds will end the 2013 football regular season against the Gilmer County Titans. Class A No. 3 Valley enters the contest with a 9-0 record, and a victory over Gilmer (5-4) would give the Greyhounds the first unbeaten football regular season in Valley High history (Valley’s predecessor, Montgomery High, logged a magical 10-0 campaign in 1969, the school’s first and only unbeaten football season).

Two Valley squads (1986 and 1999) have posted 9-1 regular season records.

The 1986 team, which featured current VHS assistant John Frisby as a player, was the first Benny Hopkins-led Valley squad to advance to the playoffs. That team lost to Sissonville 19-7 in the season opener, won the next nine, then fell to Tucker County 34-13 in the postseason.

The 1999 unit dropped a 42-8 decision to Fayetteville on Sept. 24 and went on to finish 9-1 before falling 24-0 to Matewan in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’ve been 9-1 a couple of times and 8-2 several times, but never undefeated (at Valley),” said Hopkins, who has been the head coach since 1979.

Although he knows the players and the community have been talking about a possible undefeated season, Hopkins himself has tried to keep the 10-0 chatter to a minimum. With his team preparing for another postseason run, he figures the Greyhounds could do without the distraction.

“I never mentioned it,” he said Monday. “For the first time after the game the other night, I just told them they have the chance to do something that’s never been done (at Valley).

“I’m sure it’s been in the back of their heads.”

The campaign’s been a good one so far, Hopkins said while expressing pride in his squad.

“We’ve got several people with a lot of skills, and there are guys who have worked hard in the offseason to make themselves better,” he said. “We’ve had some ups and downs; we’ve had a few games we had to fight back.

“But they keep playing.”

To achieve regular season perfection, Valley must first dispose of Gilmer County Friday.

“They spread you out and never get under center,” Hopkins said. “They’re in the shotgun all the time.

“They do a lot of quick passes. We’ll have to have a good, sound game on defense.”

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