Week 1 of the prep football season was highlighted by heated rivalries. Week 2 doesn’t project to be much different. Beckley welcomes in its oldest for in Greenbrier East, Greenbrier West makes the trip down to Summers County and Princeton hosts Mercer County rival Bluefield.
Back in Beckley
Friday’s matchup between Greenbrier East (1-0) and Beckley (1-0) will give fans a look at two of the best quarterbacks in the area. Beckley senior Maddex McMillen leads a lethal passing attack while Greenbrier East junior Monquelle Davis does it all for the Spartans.
Davis is likely one of the state’s premier duel-threat quarterbacks and just one game in he’s showed why. He completed seven of his 10 passing attempts in Week 1 for 140 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball six times for 44 yards and another touchdown. The Flying Eagles are well aware of how dangerous he is. Due to COVID cancelations on both team’s schedules last season, they played each other twice in the regular season.
Davis excelled in both matchups.
In the first he completed nine passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, adding 42 more yards and another score on the ground. The second time around Davis ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
After a shaky debut last season, McMillen produced similar results for the Flying Eagles in the second matchup. He completed eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, running the ball 18 times for 52 yards and three more touchdowns. It was the start of a scorching stretch for the signal caller as he broke the school record for passing yards in a single game the following week against George Washington.
The winner moves to 2-0 in a year where games are being postponed in droves as the coronavirus makes its rounds again. A win here goes a long way towards making a push for the playoffs, especially with a .500 season being good enough for a postseason berth in Class AAA.
Return to Mercer
Greenbrier East and Beckley weren’t the only teams to play each twice in the regular season last year. Mercer County rivals Princeton (1-0) and Bluefield (0-0) did so as well, with Bluefield winning 15-13 and 54-40. Both games came in the first three weeks for Princeton, as it started 1-2, but ripped off five straight wins before losing to eventual Class AAA champion South Charleston in the playoffs.
Princeton opened the season with a dominant showing, beating Lincoln County 35-0 behind key performances from all-state quarterback Grant Cochran and running back Jacob Young. Cochran was 10-of-14 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns while Young had 13 totes for 116 yards and two scores. On the other side, Bluefield will be playing its season opener after Graham High School had several students test positive last week, forcing the game to be rescheduled to Oct. 8.
The casts on both sides will look different this time around.
The Tigers graduated three explosive playmakers in Ethan Parsons, Josiah Honaker and Amir Powell. The Beavers graduated quarterback Carson Deeb and wide receiver Brandon Wiley.
Though a strength Princeton does have helps to expose the self-diagnosed weakness Bluefield has. Speaking with those within the Bluefield program, the defensive interior was a cause for concern. Losses to Bridgeport in the 2019 state championship game and Fairmont Senior in what turned out to be the 2020 state championship game exposed those vulnerabilities.
The Tigers return every starter along an offensive line that allowed them to run a four-wide offense that produced the Moss Award winner in Parsons. If Week 1 is any indication as well, they’ve acclimated themselves to the ground game quite well. As explosive as Bluefield’s offense has been, and expects to be with dual-threat quarterback Ryker Brown leading a stable of electric skill players, the way to slow down an offense like that is to keep it off the field. Friday’s matchup between these two teams should be one of the better ones across the state.
Class A powers
Over the last four years Midland Trail, Summers County and Greenbrier West have proven to be the Class A powers of the area. Over that span the three programs have combined to win seven playoff games with Greenbrier West and Summers accounting for four of those wins. Now West and Summers will get to take a step towards establishing this year’s power as the two teams meet up in Hinton on Friday.
Both are riding different feelings.
Summers County opened the Josh Evans era with a 36-7 win over Class AA PikeView, helping its outlook in the playoff race. Greenbrier West went on the road to face a tough Buffalo team and fell in overtime.
Still there are positives for the Cavs.
It starts with knowing they likely can’t play much worse than they did in their season opener as they threw four interceptions in the loss. They also found a gem in Kadin Parker, who caught three passes for 61 yards. Ty Nickell carried his weight with 17 totes for 95 yards, so many of the Cavs’ struggles can be remedied by taking care of the football.
That would be beneficial against an opportunistic Summers defense.
The Bobcats forced four turnovers against PikeView, intercepting three passes and forcing a fumble on special teams. Leading the charge was Kalob Black, who decided to give football a go his senior year. It worked out well as he picked off two passes in his debut while also rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown. But he’s far from the only threat West will have to account for.
Andre Merriam-Harshaw, the Week 1 Lootpress Player of the Week, ran for nearly 200 yards while picking up two touchdowns and two sacks. Last but not least is the speedy Duke Dodson who had over 100 yards rushing. The trio form a lethal three-headed monster in Evans’ wing-t variant that will test the Cavs’ discipline on defense.
A win for Summers is a massive boost as it’s already off to a hot start in the playoff points category with a win over a Class AA foe. A win for West helps right the wrongs of last week and ensure the Cavs aren’t fighting an uphill battle to make the playoffs the rest of the way.
Since 2018, the annual Week 2 showdown between Nicholas County and Shady Spring has been marked on calendars around the state. All three contests over that span have been decided by a single score and twice have factored into the Class AA playoff picture. Even last season when both teams were down, it was one of the better games played across the area with Shady quarterback Cameron Manns being called upon to step in after starter Jared Lilly went down with an injury. He led the comeback effort on the road.
Both teams had strong debuts in Week 1 with Nicholas beating Class AAA Oak Hill on the road and Shady Spring shutting out Tug Valley behind 19 tackles from senior linebacker Bryson Pinardo.
As far as early season matchups go, this is one of the premier ones as it holds playoff implications for both teams. For Nicholas it’s an opportunity to bolster its resume in the hunt for a high playoff seed. For Shady it’s an opportunity to show last year was a blip and regardless of the level of opponent, they’re in the mix for a playoff spot.
Wyoming East, Westside, PikeView, Midland Trail and Oak Hill are all in different boats.
Starting with the positives, Wyoming East (1-0) is riding high after beating rival Westside in Week 1. Running a variation of the wildcats, the Warriors moved the ball at will, giving Westside a look it hadn’t prepared for. With Mingo Central coming to town on Friday, the opportunity to improve to 2-0 with two huge wins in Class AA sets the stage nicely with the number of COVID cases on the rise. Should the game threshold be lowered and the Warriors lose any games to COVID, a decent win percentage goes a long way towards a playoff push. The challenge now will be how will teams adjust now that East had put its offense on film?
PikeView, Westside, Trail and Oak Hill are all on the opposite ends. All four enter the week 0-1. Fortunately for Oak Hill and Westside, one of them will be 1-1 Saturday morning. The two teams play each other in Oak Hill on Friday, a game that dates back to when both were Class AA schools. For Oak Hill there’s more at stake. The Red Devils already suffered one loss to a Class AA team in Nicholas County, a shot to their playoff hopes. As second loss would make the climb to the postseason nearly impossible. Meanwhile for Westside a win over a Class AAA team helps right the ship. It’s also a victory desperately needed.
The Renegades will be without two starters on the offensive line for the first part of the season as both sustained injuries. They’re hoping to get some more reinforcements after progress reports come back and hopefully restore the academic eligibility of several other starters. The players to watch here will be Leonard Farrow (Oak Hill) and Jaxon Cogar (Westside). Farrow was electric in last week’s loss with over 170 yards rushing. Cogar carried a Westside offense that moved the ball effectively but was plagued by drops and turnovers in Week 1.
PikeView and Trail will also feel the pressure of Week 1 losses.
The Panthers will play Van on Friday – their second Class A team of the season. A win would go a long way towards building the confidence of a program that’s struggled with numbers and lack of success.
Trail hosts Tolsia after dropping a close game at Class AA Clay County last week. Seeing as Fayette County was one that was struck the hardest by COVID last year, there’s no doubt the Patriots understand there’s no guarantee they’ll get too many more opportunities to right the ship as they seek their fifth straight playoff berth.
Mount View, Meadow Bridge, Richwood and James Monroe all had to reschedule their Week 2 games due to COVID. Liberty and Independence are both off this week.
Contact Tyler Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjack94