Bluefield and Fairmont Senior are having their annual showdown a week earlier this season.
The Class AA powers, who have split the last two championship games at Wheeling Island Stadium, hook up in a playoff semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at East-West Stadium in Fairmont.
The only loss between them this season came on Sept. 13 when the No. 4 seed Beavers (11-1) fell 20-14 to Lord Botetourt, which at 12-0 is still alive in the Virginia playoffs. The top-seeded Polar Bears are also 12-0.
Two years ago, Bluefield prevailed 29-26 in the AA finals, but Fairmont avenged that setback with a 23-13 victory in last season’s Super Six. Each time, the victor capped a 14-0 season with a title-game win.
Both teams bring potent offenses into this year’s game, as the Polar Bears average 48.1 points and the Beavers 44.0.
Fairmont Senior relies on quarterback Gage Michael, who has accounted for more than 3,400 yards and 46 touchdowns. He leads the Polar Bears on the ground with 1,381 yards and 21 TDs, and has thrown for 2,162 yards and 25 scores.
Kie Cottingham (560 yards, nine TDs) is next in line in Fairmont’s rushing attack, and the top receivers are Camden Longwell (41 catches, 753 yards, 13 TDs) and Kayson Nealy (24 catches, 392 yards, six TDs).
For Bluefield, running back J.J. Davis and quarterback Carson Deeb head up the offense.
Davis, who has received 10 scholarship offers from Division I programs, has rushed for 1,687 yards and 25 touchdowns on 141 carries. He’s also caught two scoring passes. Deeb has thrown for 2,425 yards and 28 TDs, completing more than 67 percent of his attempts.
The Beavers’ stable of receivers includes Juwan Green (36 catches, 669 yards, four TDs), Jahiem House (34 catches, 541 yards, nine TDs), Brandon Wiley (34 catches, 488 yards, eight TDs) and Jacorian Green (33 catches, 426 yards, four TDs).
Fairmont Senior has won its last 12 home playoff games, dating back to 2009.
Class ANo. 5 Williamstown (10-2) at No. 1 Doddridge County (12-0): These teams met back on Nov. 1 in Williamstown, with the Bulldogs pulling out a 20-7 victory to protect their status as the No. 1 seed.
Running back Hunter America, last year’s Curt Warner Award winner as the top running back in West Virginia, paces the Doddridge attack with 1,986 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns and QB Noah Bumgardner has thrown for 1,176 yards and 14 TDs.
The Yellowjackets, who have reached the state finals eight times since 2003, bank on the work of running back Ty Moore (1,910 yards, 24 TDs) and quarterback Brayden Modesitt (1,395 yards, 14 TDs).
No. 10 Wheeling Central (8-4) at No. 3 Pendleton County (11-1): The Maroon Knights have already gone on the road to knock off two higher seeds in No. 7 Tolsia and No. 2 Ritchie County, and try for the hat trick Friday in Franklin.
Jordan Waterhouse leads Central on the ground with 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jacob Rine took over at quarterback following the season-ending injury to Curtis McGhee and has thrown for 607 yards and eight TDs.
The Wildcats rely on a denying defense that’s allowed just one touchdown in two playoff games as they’ve gotten past Moorefield 26-7 and St. Marys 13-2. Pendleton has permitted just two teams to score more than two TDs in a game this season.