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Prep football: South Charleston, Spring Valley seek playoff positioning

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Secondary School Activities Commission won't release its first playoff ratings for the 2013 until next week, but a game tonight in Huntington could have far-reaching playoff implications.

South Charleston (1-1) is ranked ninth in the latest Daily Mail Class AAA poll, and visits Spring Valley (1-1) at 7:30 p.m.

"I think whoever wins this one is going to put themselves in a pretty good spot. They'll get some bonus points the rest of the way," Spring Valley Coach Brad Dingess said.

There's always a down side, though.

"Whoever loses it is going to be fighting the rest of the year," Dingess said. "With our small pod that we're in with the MSAC it's hard to get many bonus points. I mean, South Charleston went 6-4 last year and didn't get in.

"You're going to have to win seven games to get in the playoffs coming out of this pod, and if you want a home game in the playoffs you've got to win this game."

For the moment at least, first-year SC Coach Donnie Mays is more concerned with the challenge Spring Valley - a team that has beaten the Black Eagles in each of their past two meetings - presents his young offensive and defensive lines.

"Yeah, that Capital-Princeton game ought to be something," Mays said when asked of games with playoff implications this week. Princeton visits Capital tonight (See story, Page 1B).

On Spring Valley, Mays was less humorous.

"They're a physical group and we've got to give some of that physicality back to them. Otherwise it'll be like the last couple of years when we've lost to them," Mays said. "They punched us in the mouth."

Spring Valley has more size than most of its opponents, and will have an advantage up front again tonight with its line, led by All-State junior tackle Trevor Stacy (6-foot-5, 290 pounds). Dingess saw the value in team speed vividly, though, when his team lost 40-6 at No. 5 Huntington (2-0).

"Their back end is very similar," he said in comparing the Highlanders' secondary to SC's. "I think they'll attack the box on us. We've got to be able to execute more on hitting our open receiver and we've got to do a better job of blocking. Last week, I think we blocked them all right, we just couldn't run through (Huntington defenders) because of their speed."

Mays said that his team can't rely on speed the way Huntington does, because Huntington's defensive line is more experienced and larger than his own.

"Speed can take you places, but you have to be able to hit back," he said.

South Charleston sophomore quarterback Kentre Grier (6-0, 170) lit up St. Albans (0-2) last week in a 75-16 Black Eagles win that was the SC's first game on campus. He's completed 25-of-47 passes (53.2 percent) for 421 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. All-State wide receiver Kevin Forrest, a 5-10, 175 pound senior, has 10 catches for 204 yards and a score. Junior A.D. Cunningham (6-0, 185) leads the SC running game with 148 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.

Colby Webb leads the Timberwolves with 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

A year ago, Spring Valley outlasted SC 37-36 in a wild game in Huntington, when current West Virginia freshman Elijah Wellman ran for 213 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries. The teams combined for 13 total turnovers.

"We can't afford to have seven turnovers the way we did last year when we played them," Dingess said. "Luckily, we were clicking on offense otherwise. I don't have the horses back there like I did last year."

The Timberwolves beat St. Albans 41-14 on the road in Week 1, and will be making their 2013 home debut tonight.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.


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