If South Charleston is going to lean on its offense, coach John Messinger would like it to be a little less one-dimensional.
And there's no better place to start than tonight's game at hard-luck Spring Valley, which despite losing its first two games has flexed some defensive muscle.
The Black Eagles (1-1) feature the top passer in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, junior Jon Alexander, who's thrown for 632 yards and six touchdowns in a loss to George Washington (36-24) and a win over Riverside (56-33).
However, SC's running attack has lagged behind, and Messinger knows he's going to need some production there tonight.
"We're firing maybe on six cylinders,'' Messinger said, "and if we're running the ball, we get the other two cylinders firing. We're getting a lot of things done with [the passing game] and our offense is productive, but we've got to get better running the ball.
"Going into the season, I felt like our offensive line had the potential to be one of the better ones we've had, but I just want to see us get a little more consistent with the run. Ideally, you'd like it to be 50-50 [pass vs. run], but if we get somewhere around 60-40, it's close to what we're looking for.''
The Timberwolves could present the sternest test on defense SC has seen so far. They've held a pair of Class AAA powers to less than 20 points per game, losing to Cabell Midland (21-13) and Huntington (17-0).
In their other games, the Knights put 49 points on Parkersburg and the Highlanders 63 on Lincoln County.
In tonight's other games involving Kanawha Valley teams:
George Washington (1-1) at St. Albans (0-2): The Patriots, looking to bounce back from a 21-14 loss to Ashland Paul Blazer (Ky.), should be buoyed by the return of running back Ryan Switzer, who sat out last week's game with a concussion.
Switzer ran for 223 yards and three TDs in last year's 42-7 win against SA, and quarterback Trevor Bell was 5 of 6 for 196 yards and three scores.
The Red Dragons average 271 yards per game passing this year.
Buffalo (1-0) at Poca (1-1): Besides both teams harboring playoff hopes, there's a little more at stake in tonight's rivalry between Putnam County neighbors.
"The kids know each other,'' said Dots coach Bob Lemley, "and I'm sure they want to beat us about as bad as anybody on their schedule.
"It's kind of a funny thing, though, because [Buffalo coach Mike Sawyer] coached quite a few years at Poca Middle School and helped us on Friday nights at most ballgames. Some of the things he does down there are what we do. It's kind of like watching yourself practice whenever we see tapes on them. But he also does some other things we don't do.''
Cabell Midland (2-0) at Riverside (1-1): The Knights bank on their punishing ground game most nights, but they loosened it up last year against the Warriors, throwing for 199 yards and three TDs.
Riverside averages 227 yards rushing and 149 passing. Basketball standout Marcus Reed has caught three TD passes in two games.
Nitro (0-2) at Ripley (0-2): The Wildcats may not get a better chance to snap their three-year, 17-game losing streak.
Both teams can move the ball and score points: the Wildcats average 28 points and 405 yards, and the Vikings 21 points and 268 yards.
Winfield (1-1) at Huntington (2-0): The Generals proved troublesome for the Highlanders last year, leading at halftime and taking an 11-point advantage in the second half before Huntington rallied for a 34-24 win.
Herbert Hoover (0-2) at Wayne (1-0): Brandon Spurlock ran for 169 yards and two TDs last year as the Pioneers bagged a 50-14 win at Falling Rock.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com