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Prep football: Tackling a concern for Riverside coach

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Riverside football Coach Ralph Hensley has bemoaned his team's lack of a tackling acumen throughout the 2012 season.

Given the trend that has seen the Warriors start the year with losses in five of six games, a track meet could ensue tonight when 2011 Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer and Class AAA No. 3 George Washington (5-1) visit Quincy for a 7:30 kickoff.

Switzer is coming off a game in which he ran for 310 yards and five touchdowns on just 18 carries in a 42-7 rout of Spring Valley (3-3).

"We just don't tackle, and I don't know why," Hensley said after the Warriors dropped a 35-16 decision to Capital although Riverside led the Cougars in total offense last week.

"We work on it all the time. Maybe we work on it too much."

The Warriors are giving up an area-high 458.7 yards of total offense per game, which has their offense led by senior quarterback Trevor Rumberg (1,208 passing yards and a team-leading 321 rushing yards) and senior wide receiver Marcus Reed (an area best 653 receiving yards and seven touchdowns) playing in a state of constant catch-up.

If George Washington gets out of the gate quicker tonight than it did against the Timberwolves last week, the scoreboard at Warriors Stadium could be in for a workout.

Switzer has 1,192 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns while carrying the ball just 77 times this season. When he's not ripping off long touchdown runs, the Patriots have been able to pick up solid yards by handing the ball to senior fullback Dustin Crouser (373 yards, five TDs).

After picking up just one first down - by penalty - through the first quarter-plus last week, the Patriots went to a wider offensive set and were off to the races.

Patriots Coach Steve Edwards Jr. - who can enter the top 10 among Kanawha County coaches in career victories with a win tonight - said the combination of Switzer (a North Carolina recruit) and Crouser (headed to Charlotte as a linebacker) is a tough one for any opposing team to account for.

"They're both among the best football players in the state," Edwards said. "I'm glad they're on our side instead of on the other."

The Patriots own a four-game winning streak in the series. Riverside handed GW its only loss of the 2007 regular season the last time it beat the Patriots.

In other area games (rankings reflect position in Daily Mail Poll):

Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland (7-0) at No. 8 Capital (4-2) - See story, page 1B.

Class AAA No. 9 Hurricane (4-2) at Greenbrier East (2-4) - The Redskins look for their third consecutive win in a road game at Fairlea. Junior quarterback Austin Hensley has completed 56.9 percent of his throws for 1,414 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions while receiver Koi Turner has caught 40 passes for 529 yards and five scores.

Class AA No. 7 Scott (6-1) at Herbert Hoover (1-6) - The Skyhawks look to bounce back after a blowout loss to top-ranked Wayne at home a week ago. Scott, which has games remaining against Class AAA No. 10 Logan and Class AA No. 4 Robert C. Byrd, is led by running back Robert Bias' 833 rushing yards.

Hoover's Shaun Dotson leads the Huskies with 604 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Class A No. 4 Buffalo (5-1) at Calhoun County (2-5) - The Bison face their second consecutive Little Kanawha Conference foe. Coming off a 23-21 win over Wirt County, Buffalo can clinch its seventh winning season in the last nine years with a victory. Senior quarterback Levi Jordan has thrown for 1,106 yards and 14 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. Junior running back Laythen Good leads area small school players with 390 receiving yards, and has run for 342 more.

South Charleston (4-3) at Nitro (2-4) - Without the built-in drama of a quarterback controversy - season-opening starter Jon Alexander has left the SC program - freshman Kentre Grier looks to continue his development against a beleaguered Nitro defense. Grier has thrown for 589 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions since Sept. 21.

Ripley (3-4) at St. Albans (0-7) - Ripley's defense held a potent Hurricane offense to 21 points in a shutout loss a week ago, while the Red Dragons trailed then-winless Princeton by a 31-0 count by halftime last week. The Vikings have recently found a running game led by Tyler Pittenger, who has 313 yards on 62 carries.

Sissonville (3-3) at Clay County (2-4) - The Indians have four games remaining, against teams with a combined record of 7-13. Indians senior Trent Stowers looked to be back in peak condition in a win over Herbert Hoover a week ago. The Panthers are coming off a 35-7 win over Midland Trail.

Other games include Class AAA No. 4 Huntington (5-1) at No. 10 Logan (5-1), Lincoln County (0-6) at Nicholas County (3-3), Point Pleasant (4-2) at Ravenswood (2-4), Roane County (3-3) at Man (2-5) and Van (1-5) at Tug Valley (5-2).

Class A No. 9 Valley (6-0) plays at Parkersburg Catholic (3-4) at 1:30 p.m. and Sherman (1-5) plays at Bellaire St. John, Ohio (3-4) at noon Saturday. Winfield, Poca and Chapmanville are idle this week.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ItsreallyDT. ;;


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