For the second time in three weeks, Kentucky power Johnson Central brings its run-heavy offense to the Kanawha Valley as the Golden Eagles visit South Charleston for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Two weeks ago, Johnson Central pounded its way past Capital 28-13, holding the Cougars to 71 total yards.
The Golden Eagles (2-0), who crank out 280 yards per game rushing, are led by senior quarterback Ryley Preece, a four-year starter who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more against Capital. They’ve played in the last four Kentucky 4A title games, winning in 2016, and are 53-8 since 2015.
“You have to try and play smash-mouth football,’’ said SC coach Donnie Mays, “because that’s all they do. It’s equivalent to seeing Spring Valley, because that’s what they like to do. They like to make games physical and keep the ball away from you, and hope you make mistakes.’’
Preece doesn’t throw often, Mays noted, but when he does, good things happen for the Golden Eagles.
“Do they throw the ball? Well, not a lot,’’ he said, “but when they do, it’s high percentage and he gets the ball to the guy he needs to get it to. They try to put you to sleep [running the ball], then hit you with big plays on high-percentage throws.’’
Mays said the ground-and-pound offense featured by Johnson Central is a throwback to football’s past.
“It’s unique in its own way,’’ Mays said. “Back whenever I played, everybody ran a veer, triple-option offense, some type of power football, so you just prepared for that. Even when I first started coaching, it was that way and the spread was unique. Now, everybody runs the spread and power, smash-mouth football is unique. They’ve taken their kids back the other way.’’
Freshman QB Trey Dunn has thrown for 438 yards and two TDs for South Charleston (1-1).
Huntington (1-0) at George Washington (0-2): The Patriots haven’t started a season 0-3 since 2006, but to avoid that fate, they must defeat a recent nemesis. The Highlanders have won their last five meetings with GW, and haven’t lost to the Patriots since that same 2006 season. Huntington prevailed last year 42-21.
Greenbrier East (1-1) at St. Albans (0-2): The Red Dragons lead the all-time series 4-1, but that one setback came last year when the Spartans boarded a 41-7 victory behind two TD runs by Marion Lawson and two TD passes by Kyle King. SA managed to run for 170 yards in that game, but finished with five turnovers.
Ripley (1-1) at Riverside (1-1): The Warriors debut on their new artificial turf field against a team that shaded them 34-30 last season, holding Riverside to 35 rushing yards on 32 carries. The Warriors play without top lineman Austin Chapman, who was ejected in last week’s loss to Huntington and must sit out one game.
Scott (0-2) at Sissonville (2-0): Like Riverside, Sissonville christens its artificial turf surface at Joe Sawyers Field. The Indians have taken their last four meetings with the Skyhawks by an average score of 40-10. This season, the Indians have allowed just two touchdowns in beating Chapmanville (24-8) and Logan (28-6).
Winfield (1-1) at Chapmanville (0-2): The Tigers KO’d the Generals 21-12 last year as Chase Berry hit on 13 of 23 passes for 147 yards and two scores, with four connections to Waylon Hensley for 68 yards, including a 31-yard TD. Also in that game, the Generals’ John Covert carried 21 times for 97 yards and a TD.
Nitro (1-1) at Herbert Hoover (1-1): The Wildcats won this battle last year 32-14, limiting Hoover’s Ben Kee to 65 yards on 13 carries, the second-lowest output of the season for the 1,300-yard rusher. That game ended Nitro’s four-game losing streak to the Huskies, who won those games by average score of 41-12.
Poca (2-0) at Braxton County (0-2): These schools have never met in football. The Dots’ Ethan Payne has run for 599 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two games. The Eagles’ Baine Cogar has 11 receptions for 150 yards. Braxton’s two losses have come to Lincoln (30-19) and Lewis County (28-0).
Cabell Midland (2-0) at Spring Valley (0-2): Matchup of an overwhelming offense (Knights average 511 yards rushing and 56 points) against a denying defense (Timberwolves have allowed one total TD to Hurricane and Wayne, a pair of playoff hopefuls). Spring Valley has won the last four meetings.