By Steve Keenan
Two unbeaten Fayette County Class A football titans will duke it out this weekend as the postseason playoff push begins in earnest.
Co-No. 5 Valley (4-0) will entertain No. 9 Meadow Bridge (5-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at WVU Tech’s Martin Field.
“It’s like I’ve told the kids: You’ve got to learn to play big games,” Meadow Bridge coach Larry McClintic said. “It’s two undefeated teams; you’ve got to like it.”
Meadow Bridge’s durable senior tailback Jake Parker, who’s rushed for 1,385 yards in five games, is the centerpiece of the Wildcats’ offense.
Of Parker, Valley coach Benny Hopkins said, “It’s hard to tell how many carries he’s going to get. He’s proven he’s a good ball carrier. It’s hard to get a good lick on him.”
On the heels of rallying for a 44-34 conquest of host Fayetteville Friday, Hopkins said the Greyhounds must do a better job of protecting the ball.
“We can’t make a lot of mistakes, fumble the ball and do silly stuff,” said Hopkins.
He felt his team looked past Fayetteville Friday, and it almost paid the price. “They (his players) were looking ahead. We weren’t ready to play mentally. Fayetteville played a good game. We just outran them a couple of times.”
McClintic realizes his squad’s best hope is to turn a possible sprint competition into something more resembling a marathon.
“Probably the biggest thing facing us is going to be their speed,” he said. “We’ll have a hard time matching up speed-wise.
“And they’ve got some big linemen down there.”
“The trouble with playing somebody like Valley,” McClintic continued, “is that you can play five good plays and you can have a breakdown and, boom, you’re in trouble.”
Meadow Bridge is 5-0 following last week’s 28-13 road win over Pendleton County. “We made a lot of dumb mistakes, a lot of mental errors we’re going to have to correct,” said McClintic. “Our kids came out in the second half and responded better.”
“Every week from here on out for us is just a battle,” he added. “We have to play sound in every aspect.”
Parker has been the backbone of the MB rushing attack, averaging 10.3 yards and reaching the end zone 17 times. Craig Peters has contributed 194 yards and two scores on the ground.
Kaleb Farr has caught two passes for 123 yards for the ‘Cats.
For the Meadow Bridge defense, Shane Harless has been in on 54 tackles, Kyle Killen 51 and Parker 49. Ryan Church has picked off four passes and Peters has three pass thefts.
Valley posted a 38-18 decision in last year’s meeting, which was also a battle of unbeatens.
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Oak Hill’s 23-10 conquest of host Buckhannon-Upshur Friday left the Red Devils unbeaten at 4-0. The Red Devils are No. 6 in this week’s WVSSAC Class AAA ratings.
Oak Hill travels to Shady Spring Friday in its efforts to finish the first half of the season unbeaten.
Also Friday, No. 22 Fayetteville (2-3) entertains Class A co-No. 5 Man.
No. 25 Midland Trail, 2-3 and winners of two straight following last week’s 36-13 defeat of host Van, is idle this week before entertaining Clay County on Oct. 11.
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