Prep football: GW gets another shot at Martinsburg
There was good and bad news for George Washington Coach Steve Edwards as he prepared his team to face two-time defending champion Martinsburg in today's Class AAA football semifinal playoff game.
The good news is that Edwards and his team are familiar with the Bulldogs.
The bad news is that Edwards and his team are familiar with the Bulldogs.
That familiarity has made for a worrisome week for Edwards in preparation for today's 1:30 p.m. matchup between the Patriots (10-2) and Bulldogs (11-1) at Cobourn Field.
The game is a rematch of last season's championship game, which Martinsburg won by a score of 35-27.
Most worrisome for the Patriots is the seemingly endless supply of talented skill players that the Bulldogs can utilize in all three phases of the game.
"They're pretty scary," Edwards said. "Their skill is very talented, very big, very tall and very fast. What makes them so good is that their kids have great size and great speed. They're very athletic. It's tough for high school teams to matchup up person for person, pound for pound and speed for speed with them.
"They have great numbers. It's a big school with a lot of kids and that's what makes it so rough and so scary.
They present so many matchup problems because they have such an abundance of skill players."
Martinsburg, which averaged more than 53 points per contest this season, is led by junior quarterback Justin "Cookie" Clinton.
Clinton leads the team with 865 rushing yards, while passing for 1,228 yards in completing 74-of-120 attempts. Clinton also has scored 12 rushing touchdowns and passed for 14 more.
"Clinton can do a lot of things," Edwards said. "He's a fine athlete. He's got a cannon for an arm and he runs the ball very well.
"He's also smart and he makes good decisions."
The Bulldogs are also solid at running back, where they'll rotate four backs throughout the game.
Trey Boyd (364 yards, 8 TD), DeColey Jones (327, 6 TD), Gary Awkard (314, 5 TD) and TyShawn Smith (260, 4 TD) will see action in the backfield.
The Bulldogs' receiving corps is led by Ohio University recruit Cedric Brown, who has corralled 33 passes for 458 yards and six scores.
"I think they're every bit as good as they were last year," Edwards said. "I think their skill players are just as solid, if not better, than last year.
"On the line, they're not as tall, but they're still big. Their schemes are the same, they play just as hard and they play with a lot of confidence. To me they look the same, just with different numbers."
Clinton and Brown have also caused trouble for opponents on special teams with a combined three TD returns on kickoff and punt returns.
Kicker Tyler DeHaven has converted 40-of-41 extra point attempts and all three of his field goal tries.
"I'll tell you what else scares me about them is that their really good on special teams," Edwards said. "Their punt returns and kick returns are really scary.
"Cookie and Brown are everywhere. They get their athletes on the field and they do a nice job getting the ball in their hands. It almost seems like they've returned a punt for a touchdown."
Edwards also knows that his team's margin for error will be small against a Martinsburg defense that has allowed one touchdown in its first two playoff wins.
"Our kids are going to have to perform," Edwards said. "We're going to have to get contributions on both sides of the ball from a lot of people.
"We feel good about our preparation, we feel good about our chances and we're excited about the opportunity, but we're going to need to play good quality football with a lot of guys doing it to be successful."