ONA — J.J. Roberts has watched one of Cabell Midland’s biggest rivals, Spring Valley, make three straight trips to Wheeling for the Class AAA championship game.
Friday was the last chance for him and the Knights to get that Wheeling feeling for themselves, and they came through in spectacular fashion with a 31-0 semifinal blanking of Spring Valley.
The win sends the No. 2 seed Knights (13-0) into the Super Six state finals at noon on Dec. 7 against the winner of Saturday’s game between Parkersburg South and Martinsburg.
“It just feels amazing,’’ said Roberts, a senior quarterback and cornerback. “You can’t ask for a better opportunity than we have. First of all, all glory to God. I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s helped me throughout the year.’’
Spring Valley had played and lost to reigning power Martinsburg in the last three title games, and as far as Roberts is concerned, the Knights were also going to face the Bulldogs, even though Martinsburg had yet to play its semifinal.
“We’re going up there and do what other people couldn’t do,’’ Roberts said. “We’re going to beat Martinsburg.’’
Roberts, a 1,000-yard rusher, started slowly on Friday and was held to 16 yards on seven carries in the first half as Midland led just 3-0 at the break. But he provided several key moments in the second half as the Knights pulled away.
On Midland’s first possession of the second half, Roberts broke off a 12-yard run to put the ball in Spring Valley territory. Then on a key fourth-and-5 play from the Timberwolves 38, he ran a quarterback draw for 16 yards to place the ball on the 22. Two plays later, Jackson Fetty scored to make it 10-0.
Roberts turned in two more big runs on Midland’s next drive, first churning out 3 yards on third and 1 from the Knights’ 40 to move the chains. Early in the fourth quarter on third and 3 from the Spring Valley 22, with the game still just 10-0, Roberts busted loose for 17 yards to the Wolves 5. Jakob Caudill scored four plays later to make it 17-0.
“When it comes down to those moments,’’ Roberts said, “all I’m thinking about is I’m just going to ride it out for my brothers, whatever it takes to stay on the field. Whatever it takes to get a first down. And the line up front was incredible. They’re going to be incredible whenever we play Martinsburg, but the line all year has been a big deal. They’ve been helping us carry the workload well.’’
Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess agreed that Cabell Midland’s option offense becomes even more dangerous when the trump card is an athlete as gifted as Roberts, who has committed to Wake Forest as a defensive back.
“They’re really good at what they do,’’ Dingess said. “When you’ve got a kid like that running quarterback, you can only contain him for so long. And tonight we did a pretty good job of it [in the first half]. We just couldn’t sustain drives ourselves.
“He’s a ball player. There’s a reason why he’s going to Wake Forest and there’s a reason why they’re a well-oiled machine. They’re just so hard to stop when they can get it going.’’
Roberts, who has also been playing the entire game on defense in recent weeks, helped salt away the victory with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown less than two minutes after teammate Palmer Riggio brought back a pick-six from 46 yards.
“It felt amazing,’’ Roberts said. “I couldn’t ask for a better runoff on this field. It’s my last game here, and it’s a big deal. It’s a big moment I’ll remember the rest of my life.’’