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Prep football: Buffalo, Wahama share familiarity, look to adjust

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the high school football playoff pairings were announced last weekend, several coaches were at a loss for words when asked to describe their first round opponent.

With many matchups featuring uncommon opponents from different areas of the state, those coaches had to wait until viewing game film later in the week before they knew much of anything about their upcoming opponent.

That wasn't the case when the Class A first round pairing of No. 3 Wahama (10-0) and No. 14 Buffalo (7-3) was announced.

Those annual regular season rivals will square off for the second time in as many weeks when the Bison travel to face the White Falcons at 7:30 p.m. today at Point Pleasant High.

Wahama closed out the regular season with a 41-13 home win over the Bison in last weekend's regular season finale.

So while other coaches around the state are scrambling to put together a game plan for their first round opponent, the staffs at Buffalo and Wahama will simply try to fine tune the things that went wrong the week before.

"We're going to have some more time to film study in what they do in certain situations, so we're not going to just rewind and do what we did next week," Wahama Coach Ed Cromley said. "We'll try to fine tune what we did last week, so it will be a little different.

"We went into the last week's game with a lot of confidence and determination and I expect the same thing this week. They've got in their mind that they want to make some noise in this playoff run so I think we'll play on our tradition and our pride. I don't see a letdown one bit."

Buffalo Coach Mike Sawyer doesn't expect to see too many changes on the field this week either, but also isn't sure of the mental state of his team following last week's defeat.

"We know what they do and they know what we do, so they're won't be many surprises," said Sawyer, who's guided the Bison to the playoffs in seven of his 11 seasons at Buffalo. "We wanted to do a little better and get a home playoff game for once and it didn't happen. We'll just hope to regroup and hopefully we'll go up there and give them a game.

"We were kind of down last Friday night and the kids are going to respond one of two ways. They're either going to come out chomping at the bit and wanting another chance, or they'll come out defeated and we'll have to try to get their psyche back.

"We'll find out Friday night which one it is."

The key for the Bison in the rematch will be to slow the White Falcons' strong rushing attack.

Wahama tallied 331 rushing yards on 49 carries against Buffalo, led by Zack Wamsley's 145 yards, while Kane Roush added 97 yards and Crandall Neal 84.

"The Roush kid does a really good job and the Wamsley kid up the middle hurt us," said Sawyer. "We didn't stop him very well and they're a physical team up front. They're a hard team to prepare for.

"We were able to move the ball on them, but defensively there were certain times that we had trouble. We also had some penalties and mistakes that hurt us and it all kind of had a domino effect on us."

Wahama will also have its hands full defensively in an effort to slow Buffalo's athletic offense.

The Bison totaled 355 offensive yards (149 rushing, 206 passing) last weekend, while Wahama finished with 358.

The key for the White Falcons' defense will be slowing Buffalo senior quarterback Levi Jordan, whom according to Cromley is the best quarterback Wahama faced this season.

"I thought they tried to run it a little bit more against us than I expected," said Cromley. "I'm not really sure what to expect this week so we'll just have to be prepared for what we think they'll try to do against us.

"Containing Jordan will be a key. I think that's something we really need to work on because he's great at extending the play. If it's not open right away, he has the confidence and the size to move around without worrying about getting hurt.  

"You've got to put pressure on him, but you've got to contain him and that's a difficult thing. And then you've got to cover their receivers even longer, which is really difficult. "He really brings something to the table for them that is difficult to defend."

Buffalo is seeking to advance past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in school history, but will have to shake the memories of the last three seasons in order to do so.

The Bison have finished each of the last three seasons at 7-3 and on the road as the playoffs begin.

"All the last three seasons have been similar in that we've started out pretty good and then lost some games at the end," Sawyer said. "Some of that is how our schedule is set up because we have our tougher games at the end of year.

"The last three years are kind of identical in the fact that we're 7-3 and we're travelling in the playoffs. We were hoping that would change, but I guess it's something the kids are used to by now.

"Even on the road I always like my chances. If we didn't play them we'd be playing someone else that's a good team and we have to beat them all to get where we want to be."


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