When South Charleston started out the season 1-3, it left itself with little margin for error.Even though one team sneaked into the Class AAA playoffs at 5-5 last year and 6-4 is usually good enough to qualify for a Mountain State Athletic Conference team, SC coach John Messinger felt like his squad had to win out in order to reach the postseason.Well so far, it's been good for the Black Eagles (4-3), who have won three straight heading into tonight's 7:30 home game against Nitro (2-4). It marks the final game for SC at Oakes Field, as it plans to play at the field next to the high school in 2013."What we're trying to do,'' Messinger said, "is don't get rattled too much with pressure knowing what we have to do - and that's win out. As the weeks go by, there's a little more pressure and I hope we've prepared as well as we can.
"We're still pretty youthful. The last two weeks, we've gone with a freshman quarterback [Kentre Grier], a sophomore running back [L.K. Richmond], a couple young guys up front and defensively, we've started four freshmen.''Messinger knows that Nitro presents a dangerous offense, especially with the pass-catch tandem of Chris Moody and Ethan Clark. Moody stands third in the MSAC in passing and Clark leads the league in receiving. In addition, Alex White has booted nine field goals, his longest 42 yards."We take this game very seriously,'' Messinger said. "We're not going to automatically come out and walk away with a win. We've got to play four quarters, or we'll get in trouble fast with this bunch. Ultimately, our goal is to win enough to get back in the playoff picture again, and we can't look forward to Week 9 or Week 10. We've got to look at Nitro."They block it real well and make it tough to get to that kid [Moody]. I think when [Nitro coach Derek Midkiff] gets his system in place and they have the time to learn it, they'll be in good position to turn that program around. I just hope it's not this week.''
Grier has replaced junior Jon Alexander, who made 14 straight starts at QB before being replaced. Alexander has since transferred to Hargrave Military Academy (Va).In other games tonight involving area teams:Huntington (5-1) at Logan (5-1): A matchup of teams vying for home-field honors in the Class AAA playoffs, with the Highlanders currently third and the Wildcats tied for 10th. Logan shaded Huntington last year 28-27.
"Defense has been a big reason for our success,'' said Logan coach Gary Mullins, whose team has already shut out three opponents. "We thought we could be good on defense, but we had no idea it would be as good as it's been at this point. I don't think we had three shutouts in the previous eight years I've been here. It's really hard to lose a game when they score none.''George Washington (5-1) at Riverside (1-5): The Patriots seek their fifth straight win and try to protect their No. 4 status in the AAA playoff ratings. For the Warriors, quarterback Trevor Rumberg (1,208 passing yards) has been a pleasant surprise and is on pace to shatter the school record of 1,613 yards in a season (Josh Clark, 2004). Rumberg's already just the sixth player in the program's 14 seasons to reach four figures.Hurricane (4-2) at Greenbrier East (2-4): Redskins quarterback Austin Hensley hurt the Spartans in last year's 35-21 victory, hitting on 13 of 19 passes for 177 yards and two TDs and running for two more scores. East is allowing a shade under 40 points per game this season.Ripley (3-4) at St. Albans (0-7): The Vikings have been stingy most times on defense, allowing more than 21 points to just two teams. Last year, Ripley blanked the Red Dragons 22-0, holding SA to a net of 150 yards and returning an interception for a touchdown.Sissonville (3-3) at Clay County (2-4): The Indians snapped a three-game losing streak last week at Herbert Hoover to put themselves 17th in the AA ratings, one spot out of a berth. The Panthers have lost just one game this season by more than one possession (eight points).Scott (6-1) at Herbert Hoover (1-6): The Skyhawks ran for well over 300 yards in last year's 30-17 win over the Huskies. Scott needs a win before its bye week in order to protect its status as the No. 4 team in AA, especially with games against Robert C. Byrd (6-1) and Logan (5-1) to end the regular season.Buffalo (5-1) at Calhoun County (2-5): The Bison beat the Titans last year 61-6, and Gilmer's defense has been touched up for 57 or more points three times already this season.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tonight's gamesAll games at 7:30 p.m. unless notedCabell Midland (7-0) at Capital (4-2)George Washington (5-1) at Riverside (1-5)Nitro (2-4) at South Charleston (4-3)Hurricane (4-2) at Greenbrier East (2-4)Ripley (3-4) at St. Albans (0-7)Sissonville (3-3) at Clay County (2-4)Scott (6-1) at Herbert Hoover (1-6)Buffalo (5-1) at Calhoun County (2-5)Brooke (1-5) at Parkersburg South (4-3)Huntington (5-1) at Logan (5-1)Lincoln County (0-6) at Nicholas County (3-3)Parkersburg (4-3) at Woodrow Wilson (4-3)Point Pleasant (4-2) at Ravenswood (2-4)Princeton (1-6) at Spring Valley (3-3)Wayne (6-0) at Tolsia (3-4)Roane County (3-3) at Man (2-5)South Gallia, Ohio (0-7) at Wahama (7-0)Van (1-5) at Tug Valley (5-2)
Saturday's gamesSherman (1-5) at Bellaire St. John's, Ohio (3-4), noonValley (6-0) at Parkersburg Catholic (3-4), 1:30 p.m.Wheeling Central (4-3) at Mingo Central (4-2), 1:30 p.m.