HUNTINGTON — Timberwolves is an apt mascot for Spring Valley’s football team.
Spring Valley’s defense played like a ravenous pack Friday afternoon in a 56-14 devouring of Capital in the Class AAA high school football playoff semifinals at the Wolves Den. With the victory, the second-seeded Timberwolves (13-0) advance to the state championship game against No. 1 Martinsburg (13-0) for the third time in as many years at noon next Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“They’re animals,” Spring Valley quarterback Will Adkins said of his team’s defenders. “The defense locked down. The second half I could be hands off and I credit the defense for that.”
The Timberwolves held the Cougars to minus-6 yards rushing on 15 carries and intercepted heralded quarterback Kerry Martin Jr., a West Virginia University commit, four times. Martin completed 18 of 33 passes for 196 yards but was on the run most of the day trying to avoid a heavy pass rush. With Capital unable to run the ball, the Timberwolves effectively sat on the pass.
Senior defensive end Cody Stanley said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“Our defense, we’ve been together since we were little,” Stanley said. “We played in the Turf Bowl [Tri-State Youth Football League title game] together and this means a lot to us. Kerry Martin is a really good quarterback and Capital is a great team. For us to shut them down like that is special.”
Capital mustered a mere 72 yards of offense in the first half as defensive tackle Doug Nester, committed to Ohio State, joined Stanley, Josh Blevins, Hunter Bellomy and Cody Sharp in harassing Martin. On the first drive of the third quarter, Stanley and Bellomy made tackles for losses and Nester pressured Martin into an incompletion on fourth-and-15 from the Timberwolves 38. Spring Valley scored on its next possession to lead 35-7 and the Cougars never recovered.
With the defensive front dominating, the Timberwolves secondary took advantage. Safety David Livingston intercepted two passes and returned one 67 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Isaac Howard also intercepted two passes.
“Our defense played so well,” Nester said. “We couldn’t have played much better than we did. To hold them, they’re a great team, like we did is hard to do.”
Spring Valley was more physical and it showed as several Capital players were helped from the field. Martin came down hard on his left (non-throwing) shoulder late in the first half when Nester tackled him. Martin’s brother and standout wide receiver Kerion Martin suffered an ankle injury that limited him in the second half.
“They gave us good field position all day,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said of his team’s defense. “Turnovers, defensive scores. Special teams ran one all the way back. It was a total team performance. We were dominant in all phases of the game today.”