Buffalo coach Mike Sawyer won't come right out and say it, but Buffalo fans might feel like there's some unfinished business between their team and Wirt County, who collide at 7:30 tonight in a key Class A game in Putnam County.
A year ago, the Bison and Tigers both sported 5-0 records and were tied for No. 2 in the playoff ratings when they met in Elizabeth, a game that featured three ties and five lead changes before Wirt eked out a 33-29 win.
Then-senior Dalton Brindo scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 40 seconds left to give the Tigers the victory.
The two teams are prime contenders in Class A again this season, with Wirt County (4-1) tied for eighth and Buffalo (4-1) holding down the No. 12 spot.
"I think our kids feel like they're playing just another game,'' Sawyer said. "They're excited to play them again. Do they think they owe them one? I don't know. We're excited for the game, and they know we have to do better.
"We haven't played a team yet that throws the ball much, and they throw it some, so we're going to have to be prepared for that. '
The Tigers gain a lot of yardage through the air with quarterback Josh Trembly (994 yards, seven touchdowns). In fact, the totals of their leading rushers pale in comparison - Damian Rhodes (262 yards, four TDs), Cody Ferguson (258 yards, four TDs) and Jake Linville (212 yards, nine TDs).
"They pretty much do both, run and throw,'' Sawyer said. "They're a young team, but they're pretty athletic, so it'll be a challenge.''
Buffalo's attack is led by quarterback Levi Jordan (898 yards, 13 TDs) and versatile Laythen Good (679 scrimmage yards, 10 total TDs).
In other games tonight involving area teams:
Winfield (2-4) at Cabell Midland (6-0): Call it the David Gaydosz Bowl. Gaydosz, who last year became the first player since the 1980s to run for 1,000 yards at Winfield, transferred to Midland in the offseason and now leads the Knights with 12 rushing TDs. Last week, Gaydosz burned Woodrow Wilson for 328 yards and six TDs.
"I don't want to say much about it,'' Generals first-year coach Craig Snyder said prior to the season about Gaydosz's departure, "but I know Midland did not recruit him. You can interpret why that happened. I know our team is looking forward to playing Midland.''
Wayne (5-0) at Scott (6-0): A matchup of two of the top running games in Class AA. The defending state champion and No. 3 Pioneers average 392 yards rushing, 485 total and 56.6 points. The top-ranked Skyhawks average 326 yards on the ground, 401 overall and 36.7 points.
This is the game where Wayne began its current 14-game win streak last year, rallying from a 20-18 deficit after three quarters to beat Scott 50-20. The Pioneers haven't trailed in a game since, a string of 635 straight minutes of clock time.
Riverside (1-4) at Capital (3-2): A reprise of the Warriors' surprising 14-7 win over the Cougars last year, a game in which Capital - ranked sixth in AAA at the time - was held to 195 yards of total offense. It's also a battle of quarterbacks who rank second in the MSAC with 10 TD passes each (Riverside's Trevor Rumberg, Capital's Tyhree Pratt).
Ripley (3-3) at Hurricane (3-2): The Redskins won last year's meeting 42-7 as Austin Hensley ran for two TDs and hit on 10 of 13 passes for 160 yards and a third score. The Vikings have won two of three since losing starting quarterback Trevor Tucker for the season with a knee injury.
Lincoln County (0-5) at South Charleston (3-3): These teams have met each of the past three years, and the Black Eagles have won each one convincingly - 51-6 in 2009, 69-7 in 2010 and 55-12 last year. The Panthers are one of three winless AAA teams.
Greenbrier East (1-4) at Nitro (2-3): The Wildcats, who broke an 18-game losing streak earlier this season, can perhaps vault themselves into the fringes of a playoff spot with a third straight victory. The Spartans clouted Nitro last year 64-6, returning a pair of interceptions for touchdowns.
St. Albans (0-6) at Princeton (0-6): Somebody's losing streak is going to end, either the Red Dragons at nine in a row or the host Tigers at 10 straight. SA won last year 20-6, but Tigers tailback Tahj Sho-Johnson sat out with an injury. He returned last week after missing 31/2 games this season with another injury and ran for 175 yards.
Sissonville (2-3) at Herbert Hoover (1-5): A matchup of losing streaks, current and past. The Indians have dropped three in a row since a 2-0 start, and the Huskies broke a two-year, nine-game losing skein just last week against Poca. Hoover blanked Sissonville last year 42-0.
Poca (2-4) at Webster County (3-3): The first regular-season meeting between these programs finds the Dots on a three-game losing streak (with two of the setbacks by a total of four points). The Highlanders, however, have won back-to-back starts and are right in the thick of a jumbled-up playoff picture, tied for 14th in AA.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Riverside (1-4) vs. Capital (3-2) at Laidley Field
Spring Valley (3-2) at George Washington (4-1)
St. Albans (0-6) at Princeton (0-6)
Winfield (2-4) at Cabell Midland (6-0)
Lincoln County (0-5) at South Charleston (3-3)
Greenbrier East (1-4) at Nitro (2-3)
Ripley (3-3) at Hurricane (3-2)
Sissonville (2-3) at Herbert Hoover (1-5)
Poca (2-4) at Webster County (3-3)
Wirt County (4-1) at Buffalo (4-1)
Pendleton County (3-3) at Valley (5-0)
Huntington (4-1) at Woodrow Wilson (4-2)
Parkersburg South (3-3) at Parkersburg (4-2)
Point Pleasant (4-1) at Oak Hill (4-1)
Wayne (5-0) at Scott (6-0)
Braxton County (3-3) at Ravenswood (2-3)
Man (2-4) at Chapmanville (3-3)
Midland Trail (4-2) at Clay County (1-4)
Tolsia (3-3) at Mingo Central (3-2)
Clay-Battelle (6-0) at Van (1-4)
Wahama (6-0) at Federal Hocking, Ohio (5-1)