Valley, C-B look to carry success into playoffs
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Valley and Clay-Battelle are no strangers to success.
The Greyhounds are making their second straight playoff appearance and eighth overall under longtime coach Benny Hopkins. Clay-Battelle is back in the postseason for the seventh time in nine seasons, and the Cee-Bees' senior class just wrapped up its third 9-1 season in four years.
That success, however, hasn't carried over to the playoffs for either side.
Valley finally broke through last year, earning its first postseason win in Hopkins' 30-year stint at the Fayette County school. And Clay-Battelle coach Ryan Wilson can recount only one playoff win in the school's history.
One school will add another rare "W" to its playoff resume tonight when the No. 9 Greyhounds (8-2) take on No. 8 Clay-Battelle (9-1) at University High School in Morgantown. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
"We feel like we have a pretty good program here at Clay-Battelle," said Wilson. "We've been in the playoffs seven of the last nine years. That says something about what we're doing. We've had pretty good success. We've had some tough ballgames that our kids have come through in."
The Cee-Bees, who suffered their lone loss in the regular-season finale against No. 4 Madonna, are led by junior quarterback Tristan Haught, who has completed 61 of 114 passes for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Shayne Hinkle, a senior playing football for the first time, led the team with 1,380 yards and 17 TDs on the ground. Receiver Nathan Tolley has been Haught's favorite target, catching 36 passes for 600 yards and four scores. Three seniors anchor the offensive line.
"Those seniors, they've been a part of some winning years," said Wilson. "They're pretty good leaders. We know how to win. Now we're one of 16 teams and everyone's a tough ballgame. That's what [today] will be."
Valley features a 1,000-yard rusher in Cody Winter (180 carries, 1,117 yards, 10 TDs) and two capable quarterbacks in Raeshawn Breckenridge (19 of 33, 490 yards, seven TDs) and Matt Whiteside (16 of 57, 381 yards, four TDs). Dante Wilkerson is the leading receiver with 14 grabs for 372 yards and four scores.
The Greyhounds' two losses came on the road at Parkersburg Catholic and AA No. 11 Summers County.
"It was nice to win a [playoff] game, but this is a new year, a new team and we just hope to do well," said Hopkins. "When you get to this stage of the game, anybody can beat anybody. We're starting off even, 0-0. We're just looking forward to it."
The winner of tonight's game takes on the No. 16 Moorefield-No. 1 Tucker County winner in next week's quarterfinals.
Reach Jeff Rider at 304-348-5122 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/gazette_gamer.