Prep football: Scott hopes to cure recent home woes
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Every high school football program enters the season with hopes of qualifying for the playoffs in their respective classes.
Earning a home playoff game is usually considered a bonus.
Given the way the second half of the season unfolded for the Scott Skyhawks, hosting a playoff game may or may not be considered a plus.
After opening the season with six consecutive wins, the Skyhawks ended the season with three losses in its final four games, including three straight losses at home.
The No. 7 seed Skyhawks (7-3) have another chance to regain their home mojo at 7:30 p.m. Friday, when they host No. 10 Wyoming East (7-3) in a first-round Class AA matchup.
Scott has earned a playoff spot in eight of the last 10 seasons and will host its first playoff game since 2008.
"I hope it brings a lot of excitement," Scott Coach Shane Griffith said. "Unfortunately, we've dropped a few in a row at home. We understand that we need to get that momentum back with our home crowd, but I hope that bringing the playoffs back to Scott High School, with our turf field, and all the energy that's available for us there, that we have a lot of energy Friday night.
Entering the contest with a healthy roster should help the Skyhawks' cause, Griffith said.
"We've got to get our offense clicking again. We've had some injuries and when you have injuries you're timing seems to get off kilter. We've healthy again so that will help us. The key for us is to score some points early and get some believe back in our system," said the coach.
Running back Robert Bias reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the Skyhawks' regular-season finale, a loss to Class AAA Logan. The junior has carried 152 times for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cameron Loftus has 729 yards on the ground and nine TDs, while Tristan Crone leads the team with 10 rushing scores. Quarterback Cody Brown has completed 38 of 77 passes for 500 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Griffith also hopes his team can stop a recent trend losing early in the playoffs and work its way through the later rounds.
"We've been here eight times in the last decade but you can't ever discount the fact that you're there," he said. "You set expectations of being a playoff program, but when you accomplish that goal you learn that you've got to take a step back and be proud of what we've accomplished.
"What we've been pushing for is breaking that bubble of not only being a playoff team, but being a playoff contender. We've put those expectations on this senior class they've accepted the challenge.
"We've been in some big atmospheres in the past and this season, but we've yet to take that next step. We're hoping with us being healthy again, we can take that next step this season."
Taking that next step will depend largely on the Skyhawks' ability to stop Wyoming East's rushing attack that is led by junior Jacob Summe's 1,200 rushing yards.
Like the Skyhawks, the Warriors boast an experienced and sizeable offensive line with returning starters Brandon Peck, Derek Laxton, Ryan Cantrell and Stevie Cook leading the way.
Fourth-year East Coach Gary Poindexter is excited about the opportunity to play a playoff game given the struggles his senior class has endured.
"It's great for the kids," Poindexter said. "Our seniors were on a 1-9 team when they were freshmen, so it's an exciting time for them. They've taken their lumps and this is a good payoff for them.
"The community has been great too. They really support us and do a lot for the kids. It's an exciting time for us."
Like Griffith, Poindexter expects a tough, physical matchup.
"I expect them to be a tough, strong team," Poindexter said. "Shane does a great job with his kids. He always has, so I expect it to be a challenge for us to go in there and win."
The winner will advance to the quarterfinals, where it will meet the winner of Friday's first-round game between No.15 seed Mingo Central (5-5) and second-seeded Keyer (9-1).