It seems like every year when Hurricane plays George Washington, both are fighting like heck to get into the Class AAA playoffs. Nothing’s changed in that regard.
The No. 12 Redskins (4-4) try to stop a three-game losing streak and perhaps put themselves in the playoff field Friday night when they invade No. 9 GW (5-3), which has won four straight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
According to calculations by WTOV9.com, GW is close to clinching a postseason berth, as the eight teams ahead of the Patriots in the ratings have done, but GW has not yet done so. Both the Patriots and Redskins control their own playoff fates, however, with Friday’s game and next week’s contests — GW against Capital and Hurricane against St. Albans.
Both teams are also battling injuries to their lead ball-carriers — Hurricane especially so.
Christian Hill, a 1,000-yard rusher, left early in the first quarter of the Redskins’ game at Parkersburg with a shoulder injury last week and his return is considered doubtful. Backup Jordan Williams hasn’t played in three weeks because of his own shoulder problem. Without them, Hurricane attempted a season-high 31 passes in a 35-7 loss.
“I panicked last week when Christian went down,’’ said Skins coach Jeremy Taylor. “We got away from our game plan. We’re not going to win many games having to throw the ball 31 times. That’s just not us. We’re looking for a back this week — maybe it’s Jordan, maybe we run by committee.’’
GW, meanwhile, saw last year’s top two rushers go down three weeks apart. Aidan Johnson has been in concussion protocol and missed the last three games, and Jonathan McClung injured an ankle the day before last week’s game at Riverside. He was coming off a 150-yard effort against SA.
The Patriots have used JaQuan Hall, Dakota Cosby and even quarterback Grant Wells to take some of those carries in recent weeks. Hall ran for 152 yards at Riverside.
However, GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. realizes that Cosby and Hall are equally vital on defense, ranking among the team’s top five tacklers, so they can’t go full-bore both ways.
“We’ve got some guys to fill in,’’ Edwards said, “but that cuts down other skill guys. We need all the skill guys we can get. It puts us in a bind a little bit. We’ve got to have other guys step up; they’ll get more of an opportunity. We have to try and convince them to take advantage of the opportunity they get to help us out.’’
Wells’ play could be the key to the game. The Marshall football commit leads GW in rushing with 430 yards and nine touchdowns and has thrown for 1,316 yards and eight scores.
In last year’s 35-2 win over Hurricane, Wells hit on 17 of 25 passes for 317 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. George Washington has won seven of last eight matchups against Hurricane.
“There’s a reason Marshall wants him,’’ Taylor said. “The problem for us is that he can run and precision throw.
“We haven’t had a lot of luck in my six years against them. They’re probably in the playoffs, and we’re playing for our lives.’’
Taylor is impressed not only with Wells, but also the way the Patriots have played on defense this season, holding teams to less than 17 points per game. Only state powers Huntington and Spring Valley have managed more than two TDs against GW.
“Everybody talks about their offense struggling early in the season,’’ Taylor said, “but the last time I checked, if you hold teams down [from scoring] the way they do, you’re probably going to win a lot of games. They’re going to make us drive the field and keep everything in front of them.’’
All-state linebacker Tanner Williams leads GW in tackles with 48 solo stops and 46 assists. For Hurricane, linebackers also lead the way with Payton Lunsford (93 total tackles) and J.T. Cooper (90).