Cabell Midland's Stephen Matthews tries to turn the corner against Riverside's Trevor Rumberg.
David Gaydosz (right) makes a move on Riverside's William Jackson (1).
With impressive wins over Spring Valley and at Parkersburg, Cabell Midland had already made a strong case for a top-five ranking in Class AAA when the first playoff ratings come out.The Knights gave Kanawha County its first glimpse on Friday and did nothing but build upon their early success.Using a three-headed monster of a backfield, Midland rode its ground game to the tune of 474 rushing yards, including 100-yard games from three different backs, in a dominating 52-19 win at Riverside.The numbers and points piled up while a couple of school records went down, and all the while Cabell Midland looked every bit the part of a state championship contender.
"It's tough to play on the road," Midland coach Luke Salmons said. "It's a challenge but the kids did a good job tonight. The offense played well at times, made some mistakes, but expectations just change. Last year we were 0-2 playing Riverside, now it's 2-0 playing Riverside and it's different. The kids have done a great job. They've worked hard for this and anytime you can win on the road in this conference it's a good thing."Senior fullback Lowell Farley churned out a game-best 165 yards on 16 carries and scored a trio of touchdowns from 72, 12, and 1 yard out. In the process, he also became Midland's all-time leading rusher."I didn't even know who the all-time leading rusher was or if I broke it," Farley said. "But it's an exciting moment when they tell me that I am. Especially as a fullback. Just running downhill, working hard to get extra yards, and I guess it paid off in the end."Farley, David Gaydosz (138 rushing yards on 14 carries) and Stephen Matthews (139 yards on 12 carries) could run down, around, or uphill on Friday as Midland's offensive line consistently blew the Warriors off the line of scrimmage in visibly dominating fashion.Often times, the Midland backs weren't touched until they were deep into the second or even third level of Riverside's defense, and with a full head of steam and room to operate, all three were more than a handful to stop all night."[The offensive line] is good," Salmons said. "We knew that going into the year. We have four out of five starters back and two kids that rotate in. So we have six offensive linemen and they're fresh, they play offense only. Without them, we don't have anything."Trevor Rumberg and the Warriors had their moments and looked poised to jump back into the game coming out of the half. William Jackson took the opening handoff of the second half and sprinted 60 yards for a score to cut the Knights' lead to 35-19.Gaydosz then coughed up the ball in his own territory on the third play on the ensuing possession, allowing the Warriors to set up shop with a golden opportunity. But after a three-and-out, Farley capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive with his 12-yard score and Midland was never threatened again."They're a good football team," Warriors coach Ralph Hensley said. "They're big and strong and Farley can run - he's the man. Gaydosz he played real well too. We played with them a little bit, we just can't maintain as much as we need too. We just need to work on tackling I guess, because we didn't tackle well again, and if you can't tackle you can't win."Jackson finished as Riverside's leading rusher with 92 yards on 11 carries while Trevor Rumberg threw for 168 yards on 10-of-19 passing with a 77-yard touchdown strike to Damarrie' Lain in the first quarter that made the score 7-6. Lain also scored on a 24-yard run.Gaydosz scored on runs of 38 and 1 yard while Matthews scored on a 6-yard run and hauled in a 42-yard scoring toss from Coy Pettit to start the scoring. Pettit contributed 129 yards through the air, bringing Midland's gaudy yardage total to 603.
And finally, Chris Molina put a pretty little record-breaking bow on a great opening three weeks by blasting a 48-yard field goal to close the scoring, setting a school mark.Midland is playing well in all three phases, and even with the schedule strengthening in the next couple of weeks (South Charleston, at Huntington, Woodrow Wilson), the Knights are riding high."We're playing lights out," Farley said. "We're on a roll and I want to keep it going, but all of this hard work we've put in, in the spring all the way to the summer - we just want that state title and that's what it's going for."Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.