Class A No. 8 Midland Trail (6-3) looks to stay in the upper half of the playoff bracket when the final games of the 2019 football regular season are played Friday.
A win over the Pocahontas County Warriors in Hico could possibly move the Patriots up to as high as sixth in the final WVSSAC ratings, while a loss would likely drop them to ninth, said Midland Trail head coach Frank Isaacs.
Of the Warriors (3-6), Isaacs says, "They've played an extremely hard schedule (losing to teams such as Pendleton County, Greenbrier West and Shady Spring). They've been battle-tested. They've got a real good quarterback, and they're well-coached."
Pocahontas County "doesn't have a lot of depth," he said, but Midland Trail, a Class A semifinalist a year ago, has been struggling with injuries for the better part of the season, which has affected its depth, as well.
The newest temporary absences for the Patriots include outside linebacker Seth Ewing, who has a high ankle sprain and discovered he'd been playing with a broken hand, and linebacker/running back Robert Ruffner, who will miss Friday's game because he was ejected from the Greenbrier West contest. That "takes us back to eight starters out" from what was available at the beginning of the campaign, Isaacs said.
With Ruffner's absence, a lot of weight for the Patriot offensive backfield will have to be carried by Colton Yoder, Aden Isaacs and Griffin Boggs, coach Isaacs said. Quarterback Chris Vines has had a good week of practice, he added.
He says the Trail coaches have told their players they control their own destiny in that a win will give them the chance to host a first-round playoff game at the field of their choosing, or "if we lose, there's a really good chance we get to travel to East Hardy."
A few plays here or there and Trail could own a much better record and a higher seed, Isaacs said. However, he feels his team will still be dangerous in the postseason. "A lot of teams hope to God they don't play Midland Trail in the first round," said Isaacs.
Midland Trail, which has had scoreboard troubles this season, will utilize the former WVU Tech scoreboard, which is now installed and ready to use in Hico.
In another game involving a Fayette County squad this week, Class A No. 19 Meadow Bridge (5-4) hosts co-No. 26 Gilmer County (3-6) Friday at 7:30 p.m., with the Wildcats needing a win to maintain slim hopes of advancing to the 16-team field. Also Friday, the Oak Hill Red Devils, idle last week, will put their 2-7 record on the line at home with a 7 p.m. matchup with Westside (1-8).
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Including last week's 27-20 loss to Greenbrier West, Colton Yoder leads the Midland Trail rushing attack with 846 yards and six touchdowns on 127 carries. Robert Ruffner has 102 carries for 708 yards and eight TDs, Chris Vines has run the ball 81 times for 375 yards and seven scores, and Griffin Boggs has 56 carries for 207 yards and four six-pointers.
Vines is 26 of 84 in the passing game, accounting for 534 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.
The leading receiver is Aaron Sisler, with nine catches for 206 yards and two scores. Jonathon Stark (7-115-0) follows, as does Liam Gill (3-95-1).
Ruffner's 90 tackles, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries leads the Trail defense. Aden Isaacs has 55 tackles, a forced fumble, two recoveries and an interception, Sisler has 53 stops, two fumble recoveries and one interception, and Trevor Maichle has 52 tackles, a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery.
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Heading into Friday's season-ending game, the Oak Hill offense is led by quarterback Cade Maynor, leading ground-gainer Te-amo Shelton and top receiver Leonard Farrow.
Through the air, Maynor is 105 for 182, a 57.6 percent effort, for 1,119 yards, eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Shelton has carried 104 times for 637 yards, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and eight touchdowns. Farrow (184 yards), Omar Lewis (132) and Eli Sedlock (138) have been among the others contributing to the ground game.
Farrow has 35 catches for 423 yards, a 12.1 average, and one TD. Also bolstering the aerial attack are Braxton Hall (27-331-12.3-2), Rodell Allen (6-134-22.3-2) and Toby Giles (14-115-8.2-3).
Eli Selvey leads the Red Devil defense with 78 tackles (33 solo, 45 assists), three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Scott Wilshire has 77 stops (20, 57), has forced three fumbles and recovered one. Eli Sedlock follows with 70 (20, 50) tackles, 4.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Khalil Gray has 52 stops (26, 26) with three fumble recoveries. Other top tacklers include Matthew Honaker (36), Darian McDowell (32), Hunter Perdue (26), Logan Frantz (26), Devon Dean (24), Ethan Vargo-Thomas (22) and Maxwell Underwood (20).
Perdue and Farrow have each logged a pair of interceptions.
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Dustin Adkins guides the Meadow Bridge offense going into its Gilmer County encounter. He is 54 of 120 for 680 yards, 11 TDs and 10 interceptions, in addition to carrying the ball 65 times for 344 yards and five touchdowns. Nick White leads the rushing attack with 166 carries for 606 yards and five TDs, and Hunter Claypool has 20 attempts for 126 yards and one score.
Ayden Redden leads the pass-catching corps with 10 receptions for 187 yards and three TDs. Rian Cooper follows with 10 catches for 145 yards and one score, and Tyler Martin has hauled in 11 for 131 yards.
Claypool steers the prevent effort with 151 total tackles (16.8 per game) and seven fumble recoveries. Levi Lester has 83 tackles, Darrelle Burdette has 80, and Ty Roles has 71.
Lester has five fumble recoveries and Logan Hatfield three, and Cooper, Kyle Hinken and James McClure have two interceptions apiece.
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