High school football: Grier gives Black Eagles another option
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's no quarterback controversy at South Charleston, but the Black Eagles are back in a familiar and comfortable position.
"He took a lot of reps in practice this week, and it doesn't have anything to do with benching Jon or setting Jon down. Jon's our quarterback come Monday," SC Coach John Messinger said after freshman Kentre Grier rescued starter Jon Alexander and the Black Eagles (2-3) from a 17-0 deficit in the second half Friday night to direct a 20-17 comeback win over previously unbeaten Capital (3-1).
Grier enrolled at George Washington after eighth grade and participated with the Patriots in 7-on-7 competitions throughout the out-of-season coaching period before a Board of Education ruling returned him to his home district at SC. He played in mop-up duty in SC's 56-33 win over Riverside on Aug. 31, but what he showed Friday had Messinger wearing a smile not commonly seen since 2008.
That season, the Black Eagles used pass-friendly senior Marcel Brown and run-oriented sophomore Tyler Harris as a dual-threat quarterback tandem to win the first of consecutive Class AAA state championships.
"We just felt that given the situation, Jon got rattled," Messinger said. "Nothing was working for him. All week long, we knew we could run the triple (option) with (Grier).
"Every play he got a little more confidence. Maybe we've got a ninth-grade quarterback too, but you know what it does for us? It gives us two good quarterbacks, and boy, we haven't been in that situation for a while."
Grier ran for just 18 yards, but completed 7 of 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He hit junior Kevin Forrest for a 20-yard score after fumbling the snap with 6:49 left in the game to cut Capital's lead to 17-14.
Then, with 1:07 left, he threaded a laser through the double coverage of Cougar defensive backs Jordan Kinney and James Richmond to find junior Marquel Hampton for a 36-yard touchdown that gave SC the lead for good.
"First, I was thinking, 'How am I gonna bring my team back?'" Grier said after the game. "Then, once I got in and completed my first pass I was, like, 'I can do this.'
"Now, we won the game. I don't know what to do."
Grier said SC offensive coordinator Donnie Mays told him to "throw it to Marquel" for SC's final score.
"I just threw it up, hoping and praying he was going to catch it," Grier said. "He ran as fast as he could, then came down with it."
Alexander, who has thrown for 794 yards this season, was 8-for-16 for 51 yards and an interception against Capital.
Cougars freshman quarterback Tyhree Pratt was 9-for-15 for 142 yards and a touchdown in suffering his first loss as a starter.
He threw second-half passes - both incompletions - before South Charleston took the lead.
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LEVI JORDAN entered the Buffalo (3-1) record book Friday with his 327-yard, five-touchdown throwing performance in a 57-0 win over visiting Gilmer County (1-4). Jordan, a senior and four-year starter, became the school's all-time passing yardage leader and passing touchdowns leader.
Jordan has thrown for 5,002 yards and 52 touchdowns in his career. He surpassed the previous marks, both set by Nick Harris from 2004-07. Harris threw for 4,901 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Harris still owns Buffalo's single-season high marks of 2,170 yards and 24 touchdowns, setting both marks in 2007.
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MAGNOLIA'S 17-13 WIN over Wheeling Central was the first regular season loss to an SSAC-member school suffered by the Maroon Knights in almost seven seasons. The last such loss by Central came at Class AA Weir on Oct. 21, 2005. The Red Riders went on to win the Class AA state championship that season, while Central won the Class A state title.
Magnolia (4-1), who was playing Central (3-2) for the first time since 1990 on Friday, dropped to Class A this season.
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MARTINSBURG'S LOSS at Westminster (4-0), Md., ended the state's longest winning streak at 32 games, four games short of the state record for consecutive wins. Anstead won 36 straight from 1970-74. The Bulldogs' win streak is tied for the third longest in state history. Wheeling Central won 35 in a row from 2005-08.
Mannington (1975-78) and Bluefield (1967-69) both had 32-game win streaks.
The state's longest current win streak belongs to Class AA Wayne (4-0). The Pioneers have won 13 straight games, and their last loss was a 16-14 setback at Point Pleasant on Sept. 30, 2011.
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MEADOW BRIDGE junior running back Jake Parker ran 48 times for 361 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' 34-24 win over Pendleton County (3-2) on Friday. Parker, who has 1,256 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns this season, has carried the ball 175 times.
The regular-season record for carries is 330, set by Sistersville's C.R. Howdyshell in 1978. Howdyshell also owns the overall carries record of 389, which he accomplished in 12 games that season.
Meadow Bridge (5-0), ranked ninth in this week's Daily Mail Class A poll, plays host to unbeaten Valley (4-0) on Friday.