Bluefield head coach Fred Simon would prefer to be playing at Mitchell Stadium, but this time of year he’ll take playing on the road as opposed to not playing at all.
A roadtrip’s the case as the Beavers will pack up the bus for another three-hour trek as they head to North Marion in a Class AA quarterfinal matchup.
“You just treat it like any other game that you’re trying to do your best at,” Simon said of the long road trip. “You don’t worry about where the trip is. It can be at Mitchell, in Morgantown or Marion County. It doesn’t really matter to me. We just want our players to prepare themselves the best they can no matter what the situation is.”
After traveling three hours to Point Pleasant last week and upsetting the third-rated Big Blacks, the Beavers are hoping to replicate that success in a game against a familiar foe in North Marion. The two teams last met in the same round last year, a game won by Bluefield 33-10 at Mitchell Stadium.
It gives Simon and Co. a good idea of what to expect. The Huskies are led by QB Brody Hall, who has thrown for 1,374 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. The signal caller has also performed well on the ground, picking up 386 yards to go along with eight scores when utilizing his legs.
The host’s most dangerous player though is receiver Tariq Miller. The speedy playmaker has caught 38 passes for 666 yards and seven touchdowns, carrying the ball six times for 11 yards and two more scores.
“They play hard and they’re a physical ball club,” Simon said. “They have a good quarterback, a good offensive line and a good receiver in Miller. He can fly and he’s got great speed. They’re a well-coached team and defensively they’re aggressive. They run a four-man front but can go with a three-man front as well. I’m very impressed with them.”
Miller poses a unique challenge for the Beavers. He’s one of the few players that can match Bluefield’s own speedster in Jacorian Green – the reigning Class AA 200-meter champion. The senior star leads the Beavers receiving corps with 27 catches for 524 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 19.4 yards per catch. Sophomore cornerback Landon Frey has been the Huskies’ top producer at the position with six interceptions, but Simon wouldn’t be surprised to see Miller move over to try and neutralize Green.
The two will likely battle all night with Green playing defensive back on the other side of the ball.
“Not necessarily,” Simon said when asked if Green would be featured less. “Just because he’s on him doesn’t mean we don’t have the confidence in Jacorian to do a good job too. Sometimes competition breeds good competition so we’ll see if that’s what they do and then we’ll see what we do if that happens.”
Green isn’t the only explosive playmaker on the Beavers’ offense though.
As a team Bluefield had three scoring plays of 50+ yards last week with Jae’on Flack and Amir Hairston breaking loose for scores of 54 and 82 yards, respectively, last week at Point Pleasant. Simon considers that a product of the offense getting its timing in sync after sitting out most of Sept. due to Covid.
For the visitors to escape Marion County with a win and advance to their fifth semifinal in as many years they’ll need to manufacture more of them Friday night.
“I definitely think it’s helped us because you look at the first few weeks of our schedule and it says open, game, open, open, open,” Simon said. “It’s just such a long period of time and you basically look at our season and it didn’t start until Oct. 8. We’re about a month and a week in after that and we’re going, so it’s a peculiar season but our players are getting some practice and some game reps and it’s definitely making a difference.”
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