After a couple of nervy days, Poca coach Seth Ramsey and his staff got some good news late Tuesday: They’ll have senior standout Toby Payne when they take the field Saturday in the Class AA playoff quarterfinals.
Poca is set to host Frankfort at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the playoffs at O.O. White Stadium in Putnam County.
Payne, a receiver-linebacker and the Dots’ Division I prospect, was ejected following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in last Friday’s first-round playoff game against Liberty Raleigh. While playing defense, Payne got up in the face of a Raiders player after the play was over.
Normally, ejection carries a one-game suspension according to Secondary School Activities Commission regulations, but Payne had his suspension lifted.
“There were so many inconsistencies with the report filed, and what was on file,’’ Ramsey said. “Even some of the conversations officials had with the SSAC, there were a ton of inconsistencies.’’
Besides being one of Poca’s top tacklers, Payne brings versatility to the Dots’ offense as both a receiver and running back. He’s caught 44 passes for 779 yards and nine touchdowns and has carried 46 times for 413 yards and three scores.
Ramsey said he and his coaching staff had to go into damage control when they began preparations for Frankfort on Sunday evening, not knowing if Payne would be available come game time.
“We were obviously hoping to find out something before our practice Monday,’’ Ramsey said, “but the process took longer than we thought.
“We had a plan in place Sunday when we were breaking down film with the staff. We had a plan in place with him and without him. Luckily, we can use the one with him.’’
Ramsey said there was a sense of relief at school Wednesday after the team received the good news about Payne late Tuesday.
“He was relieved,’’ Ramsey said. “Obviously, he was upset at the potential of that being his last high school game and he’s not playing, or just not playing this week with his teammates. He was relieved when he got the news.’’
Poca (8-2) comes into the game as the No. 5 seed in the Class AA postseason, while the Falcons (7-4) are the No. 13 seed. Frankfort upset No. 4 Lincoln in the first round last week.
If the Dots win Saturday, it sends them to the playoff semifinals for the first time since 2003.
It would also be a home game, since the teams on the other side of the bracket — No. 8 Robert C. Byrd and No. 16 Fairmont Senior — are seeded lower than Poca.
Rick Ryan covers prep sports. He can be reached at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @RickRyanWV on Twitter.