By Steve Keenan
A repeat of last Friday will do the Valley Greyhounds no good this week, warns coach Benny Hopkins.
As a result of committing several turnovers and losing 28-20 to the Summers County Bobcats Friday, Hopkins and the Class A No. 9 Greyhounds lost home-field status and must travel to Morgantown this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to face No. 8 Clay-Battelle (9-1) in the opening round of the WVSSAC football playoffs.
The stakes now are obviously higher, and Hopkins says his Greyhounds (8-2) are poised to respond to the challenge.
“We played awfully hard Friday night,” he said. “We just had a lot of turnovers.
“If we’d have hung on to the ball, we could have beaten Summers County.”
That must change this week.
“We can’t have a bunch of turnovers,” he continued. “If you lay the ball on the rug, you’re not going to beat teams (in the playoffs).”
“And, defensively we have to do a better job of tackling and covering in the secondary.”
Also this week, the Class AAA Oak Hill Red Devils (7-3) will appear in the postseason for the first time since 2003, and the Meadow Bridge Wildcats will be a participant in the single-A playoffs for the third straight year.
Coach Eddie Souk and No. 16 Oak Hill (7-3) will tangle with No. 1 Cabell Midland (10-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ona. The last time the Red Devils were in the football playoff field, they were in Class AA and lost 61-16 to Bluefield.
Oak Hill will be led into the postseason by junior Jalen Jones, who had amassed about 2,000 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns going into his team’s 72-42 swamping of Lincoln County Friday.
The Knights boast a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in seniors David Gaydosz (1,455 yards, 22 TDs) and Lowell Farley (1,260, 13 TDs).
For those of you who can’t make the drive to Ona for the Oak Hill-Cabell Midland contest, two local radio stations will broadcast the game live.
Big Daddy 100.7 FM will go on air at 7 p.m. Friday with the announcing crew of Mike Fridley, Mike Fox and Darrin McGuffin. To follow the live web cast, go to www.wvbigdaddy.com and click on wvbd.
WQAZ 98.5 FM and 101.5 FM will carry the game, as well, with announcers Bill Laird, Larry Harrah and Bill Sahanage.
Meanwhile, Class A No. 11 Meadow Bridge (8-2) meets No. 6 Greenbrier West at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Greenbrier East High School.
Coach Larry McClintic’s Wildcats, who were ranked as high as No. 2 during the regular season, are led by the running of durable junior back Jake Parker, who has accumulated 2,211 yards on 319 carries (6.9 yards per carry average) and scored 28 touchdowns. He has fumbled just twice all season. Freshman Shane Harless has rushed 40 times for 273 yards.
Dustin Richmond leads the Wildcat defense with 39 tackles and 61 assists. Cody White has 38 tackles and 59 assists, while Kyle Killen has 36 tackles and 54 assists. Cole Porter has three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Senior tailback Cody Winter heads into the Valley-Clay-Battelle contest with 180 carries for 1,117 yards and 10 TDs to power the VHS ground attack. Junior fullback Darius Hutchinson has carried the ball 62 times for 367 yards and five scores.
Junior Raeshawn Breckenridge (490 yards, seven touchdowns) and senior Matt Whiteside (381, 4) have combined for 871 passing yards and 11 touchdowns to pace the Valley passing game. Dante Wilkerson has caught 14 passes for 372 yards and four scores, Mark Hess has snared six passes for 115 yards and a pair of scores, and Winter has hauled in three aerials for 106 yards and a TD.
Casey Stewart has four fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions for the Valley defense.
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