CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A couple weeks ago, Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor was kidding around with a reporter.The subject was elusive George Washington running back Ryan Switzer, who had torched the Redskins several times in recent years, including 265 rushing yards and three total touchdowns earlier this season in a 41-14 Patriots win.Taylor was glad to be done with Switzer, a senior. So he thought."If we have to play Switzer again,'' Taylor cracked, "I'd just as soon get a bulldozer and bring in mud. It's just not fair.''
Well, crank up your Caterpillar and dig up some dirt. Because it's time for a rematch.The Redskins and Patriots will be knocking heads again in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs at GW's Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills. GW (8-2) captured the No. 3 seed following Saturday's 54-17 win over Parkersburg, and Hurricane (6-4) wound up as the No. 14 seed in the final SSAC ratings (see Page 2D).Capital was the only other Kanawha Valley school to earn a berth in the AAA playoffs, using Friday's 48-18 conquest of Huntington as a springboard to the No. 7 seed and home-field edge in the first round.The Cougars, who won three in a row against top-10 AAA teams to conclude the regular season, host No. 10 Musselman (7-3) next weekend at Laidley Field.The date and starting times of all first-round playoff games will be determined at a coaches meeting today in Parkersburg. They will be posted on the Gazette scoreline (304-348-1713) when made available.South Charleston (6-4) suffered an agonizingly-close miss, winding up tied with Logan (7-3) in the No. 17 spot, one out of the final playoff berth. The margin of difference for the Black Eagles and Wildcats was one bonus point to No. 16 Oak Hill (7-3).
Thus, SC becomes the first MSAC team since Nitro in 1999 to not make the AAA postseason with a 6-4 record.The official SSAC ratings in both Class AA and A were delayed late Saturday night because of a four-way tie for the final two spots in AA and a three-way tie for ninth in Class A.The only other Kanawha Valley team to make the grade was Buffalo in Class A, which advances despite losing its final two regular-season games. The Bison (7-3) fell to 14th in the final ratings and will travel back to unbeaten No. 3 Wahama, the same place it lost 41-13 Friday.In Class AA, Sissonville (5-5) had a chance to earn a postseason spot, but lost to Braxton County 37-14 Saturday night and finished 21st.The final two spots of the AA ratings took a locksmith to figure out, since four teams finished tied with ratings of 5.8 - Mingo Central, Clay County, Philip Barbour and Westside.
Mingo Central (15th) and Clay (16th) advanced because of in-class bonus points. Westside fell out because of a regular-season loss to Mingo Central.
In Class A, Valley Fayette, Wheeling Central and Meadow Bridge all tied for ninth with a rating of 7.7. Meadow Bridge was eliminated from the mix because it lost in the regular season to Valley. The Greyhounds then won a tiebreaker with Central because of better overall record.Thus, Valley ends up with a trip to play No. 8 Clay-Battelle.Official SSAC ratings were posted at WVSSAC.org late Saturday night.Cabell Midland, posting the first 10-0 regular season in school history and the state's lone AAA unbeaten, took the No. 1 seed as expected in the AAA ratings and drew Oak Hill in the first round.Two-time defending champion Martinsburg came in at No. 2 and hosts Woodrow Wilson in another rematch of sorts. The Bulldogs beat the Flying Eagles 49-13 in the first round of the playoffs last year.
In other first-round pairings, No. 13 Elkins visits No. 4 Huntington, No. 12 Point Pleasant travels to No. 5 Morgantown, No. 6 University host No. 11 Lewis County (which lost a tiebreaker with Musselman for the No. 10 spot) and No. 9 Wheeling Park is at No. 8 Spring Valley.Seven MSAC teams made the AAA field, the same as last year.The GW-Hurricane matchup marks the fourth time those schools will meet over the last two years. The Patriots have won all three meetings - 41-14 in the regular season this year, 33-6 in the playoff quarterfinals last year and 35-0 in the 2011 regular season.For GW, rematches are all the rage in the playoffs. Last year, the Patriots started out with do-overs of regular-season games against MSAC rivals Spring Valley and Hurricane."It seems like we're playing someone we already played a lot of times,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. after drawing the Redskins again. "We know them. We saw them this year, we saw them last year, we see them in 7-on-7s. We see them everywhere. It's because they work hard and they do a good job."They've got a fine team. It's just who we have to draw. We've got a lot to do if we want to try and compete with them next week, that's for sure.''Switzer has fattened his statistics at the expense of Hurricane the last two years.In this year's game, he ran for 265 yards and two TDs and returned an interception 61 yards for a score. Last year, his line in the regular season read 195 yards and three TDs rushing and a 61-yard pick six; in the playoffs, he added 245 yards and four TDs on the ground."It's cool,'' Switzer said after finding out about Hurricane. "I don't care who we play. We've got something to prove in the playoffs. We're going to be all right.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.