Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


Running back Devin Gaines leads Parkersburg South with 22 rushing touchdowns and has gained 1,349 yards on the ground.

Parkersburg South gets the chance to make a little history Saturday, but it sure won’t be easy.

The Patriots travel to top-seeded Martinsburg to take on the three-time defending champion Bulldogs in a Class AAA playoff semifinal at Cobourn Field. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

South (11-1), the No. 4 seed, has reached the semifinals for the first time since 2003, the season it captured its only state title. The Patriots’ victim in the finals that day was Martinsburg, which fell 26-20 at Wheeling Island Stadium. It’s the last time the two programs have met in football.

Martinsburg (12-0), however, has done pretty well for itself since that time. The Bulldogs have taken seven of the last nine Class AAA championships, including the last three, and are riding a state-record 54-game winning streak. They’ve also won 63 straight home games against teams from West Virginia, a bad omen for South.

The Patriots sport a Kennedy Award candidate in quarterback Brandon Penn, who has thrown for 2,173 yards and 25 touchdowns and run for 1,624 yards and 19 TDs. Devin Gaines leads South with 22 touchdown runs and has rushed for 1,349 yards. Dylan Day’s 59 receptions for 960 yards and eight TDs pace the receivers.

Martinsburg QB Elijah Banks has thrown for 37 touchdowns against only six interceptions this season and has been sacked just twice. Banks completes 65 percent of his attempts and has passed for 2,094 yards.

The ground game is led by Kevon Warren (861 yards, 15 TDs) and Naieem Kearney (819 yards, 12 TDs). Jarod Bowie gives the Bulldogs a dynamic force at receiver with 38 catches for 941 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The Bulldogs’ defense has pitched five shutouts and allows an average of just 6.8 points per game. South’s defensive yield is nearly 20 points.

Class AANo. 6 Oak Glen (12-0) at No. 2 Bridgeport (11-1): The unbeaten Golden Bears, in the playoff semifinals for the first time in school history, try to keep their storybook season going against the playoff-tested Indians, who are competing in the semifinals for a ninth straight year. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Hunter Patterson flashes his versatility for Oak Glen as a runner, receiver, kick returner and occasional passer. He’s gained 1,239 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground and caught 45 passes for 829 yards and nine more scores.

Quarterback Nick Chaney has thrown for 2,065 yards and 21 TDs for the Golden Bears from the Northern Panhandle, and fullback Paxton Shuman has run for 929 yards and 14 scores.

Bridgeport features a balanced ground game that averages nearly 300 yards, led by Carson Winkie (735 yards, 13 TDs), Brian Henderson (673 yards, nine TDs), Trey Pancake (656 yards, seven TDs) and Devin Vandergrift (404 yards, nine TDs).

The Indians average only about 45 yards passing per game, but they play solid defense — allowing just 15 touchdowns in their 11 wins. The lone loss came to top-seeded Fairmont Senior 34-15.