GW's Ryan Switzer has run for 881 yards and 11 TDs through five games.
What some might see as an opportunity, Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess views as an albatross - of sorts.For the third time in a little less than a year, Dingess and his Timberwolves (3-2) are preparing to go against George Washington (4-1) and speedy tailback Ryan Switzer. The two sides lock up at 7:30 tonight at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.Since they've already gone against Switzer twice and realize what doesn't work, might the Wolves try a different approach this time? A new wrinkle or two in the defensive game plan?In a word, no."I don't know if that's a good thing that you've got to defend him that many times,'' Dingess said. "I'd rather not be playing against him again.''Last year, Switzer and the Patriots conquered Spring Valley twice. In the regular-season game, Switzer carried 19 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns (15 and 53 yards) as GW won 39-20.Then, in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs, GW earned a 42-7 victory as Switzer broke off scoring runs of 48, 47 and 55 yards. He finished with 169 yards on just nine attempts."I don't know if you can contain him or whatever,'' Dingess said. "You want to limit his big plays. You know he'll get two, three a game. You can't let him have five, six like he normally gets a game. He's going to get his touches and get his plays. You want to make sure the other people on the team don't beat you.''Spring Valley comes into the contest riding a three-game winning streak and holds the distinction of being the last Mountain State Athletic Conference team to beat GW. The Timberwolves won 24-21 in overtime in 2009 at Edwards Field. (GW built a 27-game regular-season winning streak before falling to Ashland, Ky., in September).
"It's turned into a pretty good little rivalry,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. "They're always physical, and it should be a nice game to watch.''The game also carries intrigue since it pits perhaps the top two candidates for the Huff Award as the state's best defensive player of the year - first-team all-state linebackers Elijah Wellman of Spring Valley and Dustin Crouser of GW. Each has committed to a Division I program - Wellman to West Virginia and Crouser to Charlotte."They're definitely the two best linebackers in the conference,'' Dingess said, "but there's going to be a lot of good players on that field Friday night. If people don't know what game they want to go to, a lot of them should decide to come to this one.''Wellman, like Crouser a fullback on offense, has seen his stats surge during the Wolves' three-game win streak, as he's averaged 217 yards rushing and two TDs over the last three games."There will be some Division I talent on the football field that will get noticed,'' Edwards said. "Our kids know who their players are, They know Elijah, and they know that kid's a good football player. He brings a challenge for anybody to stop him, and certainly we have to slow him down. He's a big, strong kid who runs well. Our kids have to know where he's at and put a shoulder pad on him. I hope they feel the same way about our young man.''Dingess, whose team came off a bye week before last Friday's 48-21 win at Greenbrier East, thinks GW has a bit of an advantage in that it's coming off its bye week to face the Wolves. Essentially, it's two weeks to prep for one opponent.
"I would say yes,'' Dingess said. "I know we came off our bye week against Greenbrier East, and our kids knew everything they were going to do. They'd come out and line up [on offense] and our kids were screaming out the plays. Coach Edwards does a good job with his kids, so I know they'll be ready, too.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.