With just two weeks left in the regular season, it looks like only two Kanawha Valley teams have the chance to remain at home during the opening round of the state football playoffs.
Capital (7-1), No. 4 in the Class AAA ratings, and Poca (8-0), No. 3 in AA, are in fact the only two Kanawha Valley teams currently holding winning records as the regular season winds down.
The Cougars and Dots will try to protect their places in the playoff ratings Friday against familiar rivals — Capital visits Riverside (1-7) at 7:30 p.m. and Poca hosts Herbert Hoover (1-7) at 7. The top 16 teams in each class qualify for the postseason, and the top eight get choice of home field in the first round.
Capital has won its last six meetings with Riverside, all them by at least 19 points. The Warriors’ last victory in the series came in 2011. Last year, Cougars quarterback Kerry Martin Jr. accounted for five touchdowns in his team’s 44-14 win — rushing seven times for 92 yards and three TDs and completing 8 of 14 passes for 184 yards and two more scores.
Riverside’s Caden Easterling, who ran for 410 yards and four TDs on 45 carries in last week’s 39-36 loss at George Washington, carried 30 times for 110 yards against Capital a year ago.
Poca has dropped its last six decisions against Hoover, but many of those came during a lull that saw the Dots lose 39 straight games from 2013-17. Poca has been on a revenge tour this season, winning all its games by at least 18 points.
With a win tonight, the Dots can also wrap up at least a share of the Cardinal Conference championship. They host Wayne on Nov. 2 in their regular-season finale.
Last week, the Dots spread the ball around in their first game since 1,000-yard rusher Ethan Payne was lost for the season with a hip injury. Owen McClanahan ran for 108 yards and one TD on nine carries in a 45-6 win at Scott, and Jay Cook threw for 136 yards and two scores, hitting five different receivers on his five completions.
Hoover’s Ben Kee, presently one of five 1,000-yard rushers in the Cardinal Conference, ran for 112 yards in last year’s 42-22 victory over Poca.
St. Albans (1-7) at South Charleston (2-6): The Red Dragons downed the Black Eagles 16-6 last year, breaking a nine-game losing streak against SC. Hard to believe, but the No. 20 Black Eagles might not be out of the AAA playoff equation if they win their final two games against SA and Cabell Midland on Nov. 2 in Ona.
George Washington (4-4) at Woodrow Wilson (2-6): The Patriots, No. 14 in AAA, kept their playoff hopes alive with last week’s 39-36 win at the buzzer against Riverside on a field goal by Michael Hughes. Now they take on a Flying Eagles team that’s lost six straight since a 2-0 start. GW won this matchup last year 49-14.
Nitro (2-6) at Sissonville (4-4): The Indians look to get regain momentum and get back in the AA playoff chase after dropping their third straight last week. The Wildcats, now healthy, have a productive combo in tailback Zhantei Calloway (324 yards, three TDs in his last three games) and quarterback Trevor Lowe.
Scott (1-7) at Winfield (3-5): The Generals were without workhorse running back John Covert for the first time last week, and were knocked off by Nitro. Covert had been averaging nearly 30 carries per game. The Skyhawks’ lone win this season came against Class A St. Marys and they’ve lost their last six games.
Buffalo (2-6) at Lincoln County (6-2): The Bison have posted back-to-back victories for the first time in more than two years, beating Valley 33-13 and Hannan 61-18. Elijah Brock has run for 383 yards and four TDs in Buffalo’s last three games. These teams have met just once before, as Buffalo won 21-20 last season.
Parkersburg (5-3) at Huntington (6-2): A key game in the Mountain State Athletic Conference and the Class AAA playoff chase, as the Highlanders are tied for sixth and the Big Reds stand ninth in the ratings. Huntington prevailed last year 35-21, its eighth straight win against Parkersburg, as it rushed for 360 yards.
Roane County (3-5) at Ripley (7-1): The No. 5 Vikings have locked up their first winning record (and likely their first playoff berth) since 2009, but seek to remain in the top eight in AAA to get a first-round home game. Ripley closes the regular season with a Nov. 2 road game at Jackson County rival Ravenswood.
Wayne (6-2) at Logan (3-5): The Pioneers have allowed just 11 touchdowns during their current six-game win streak, which has propelled them up to No. 11 in the AA playoff ratings. Wildcats’ quarterback Chucky Felder can take the Cardinal Conference rushing lead, since Poca’s Payne is done for the season.
Chapmanville (5-3) at Mingo Central (6-2): The Miners are another team on a roll, having won three in a row by an average of 30 points. Mingo Central, No. 10 in AA, still has a shot to jump into the top eight and get a first-round home game. The Tigers are 19th in AA and close out the regular season at Man Nov. 2.
River View (3-6) at Sherman (7-1): The Tide has climbed to No. 8 in Class A and hosts Van in its regular-season finale next weekend. Sherman sports a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in running back Tommy Harper (1,034 yards, 12 touchdowns) and quarterback J.T. Hensley (1,004 yards, 22 touchdowns).