Cabell Midland has a team built for running the football, and with a windy, rainy and perhaps even stormy forecast in store Friday evening, the Knights might be in their element.
Midland visits South Charleston in a matchup of Class AAA playoff aspirants, and you don’t need to swipe the Knights’ playbook to figure out how they plan to attack the Black Eagles.
In last week’s 49-41 loss to Cincinnati Anderson, Midland carried 67 times for 516 yards and had three different players go well over 100 yards — Ivan Vaughn had 207 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Jovaun Light added 146 yards and two TDs and Isaiah Duncan had 120 yards and one score.
“They have a good backfield,’’ said SC coach Donnie Mays, “they have a good offensive line and their scheme fits right to what they can do. Their kids run the ball hard and they try to outphysical you. I noticed that pretty much the whole night when they played [Anderson].’’
On the flip side, though, the Knights allowed Anderson quarterback Jay Volpenhein to throw for 355 yards and five TDs and run for 165 yards and two more scores. The Eagles feature dual-threat QB Trae Murphy as one of their offensive strengths.
“It’s kind of hard to gauge [Midland’s pass defense] by the Anderson game,’’ Mays said. “Their quarterback is a Division I-A talent, as good as most of the guys in our state. He put the ball where he wanted constantly and consistently. I’m not necessarily taking anything away from our quarterback, but I don’t really put a lot of stock into throwing the ball as much as Anderson.
“[Murphy] might have had a bad night throwing the ball last week, but he made up for it with his running.’’
In a 13-12 win against George Washington, Murphy was just 4 of 23 passing for 118 yards, but rushed for a team-high 141 yards, including the winning touchdown burst of 74 yards with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Nitro (1-0) at St. Albans (0-1)
The Battle for the Bridge pits one team (Nitro) that ran for 303 yards and five TDs in its opening win against a team (SA) that gained only 80 yards on the ground and had four turnovers in last week’s loss. The Red Dragons have won nine of the last 10 in this rivalry that began in 1931 and lead the all-time series 52-25-2. SA has tallied at least 43 points in capturing the last four meetings.
Herbert Hoover (0-1) at Winfield (1-0)
Last year’s game was a busy one for statisticians, as the Generals rallied for a 51-48 victory. Winfield trailed by 24 points in the second half that night, and scored the winning touchdown with 17 seconds left on an Andrew Huff pass. Huff threw for 278 yards and three TDs in that game and ran for two more scores.
Chapmanville (0-1) at Poca (0-1): Teams that got beat in different ways in last week’s openers. The Tigers permitted 291 yards and three TDs passing in a 25-16 loss to Sissonville, and the Dots allowed 303 yards on the ground in their 32-13 setback at Nitro. Chapmanville took this game last season 53-20.
Spring Valley (0-0) at Huntington (1-0)
The Timberwolves, last year’s Class AAA runners-up, were idle last week, allowing quarterback Derek Johnson another week to rest his preseason knee injury. The Highlanders outgunned Belfry, Kentucky, 45-34 a week ago, getting a school-record-tying five touchdowns from tailback Jadon Hayes.
Buckhannon-Upshur (1-0) at Ripley (1-0): The Bucs shaded Princeton 20-19 in overtime last week, getting two TD runs from quarterback Ryan Strader. The Vikings opened with a 28-12 victory over Parkersburg South, running for 255 yards and four TDs as they overcame a 12-7 halftime deficit. R.J. Evans’ 137 ground yards led the way.
Wayne (1-0) at Mingo Central (1-0)
A pair of Class AA playoff hopefuls lock up, with the Miners having won 15 in a row and the Pioneers four straight. Mingo Central blanked Wayne 34-0 last season, holding the Pioneers to 98 rushing yards and 117 total yards.
Buffalo (0-1) at Tolsia (0-1)
Both teams had their problems last week, with the Bison losing to Coal Grove, Ohio 51-6 and the Rebels falling to Wayne 30-6. The two schools locked up in a scrimmage prior to the 2016 season, which came about because they were working out the details for this year’s regular-season game.
Van (1-0) at Scott (1-0)
Shane Griffith, the all-time winningest football coach at Scott, returns as first-year coach of the Bulldogs for a battle of Boone County schools that haven’t met in 37 years. It pairs productive running backs in the Skyhawks’ Carson McComas (29 carries, 239 yards, four TDs) and Van’s Brady Grant (24 carries, 200 yards, three TDs).
Webster County (1-0) at Ravenswood (1-0)
A matchup of two non-playoff teams from last year where the winner will be 2-0. The Highlanders beat Richwood 26-21 last week, while the Red Devils downed Wahama 27-12 as senior Jayden Rhodes — who hadn’t played football since eighth grade — ran for 156 yards and three TDs on 20 carries.