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Prep football: GW contest critical for Cabell Midland

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For two teams that enter the week ranked No. 2 and No. 10 in the Secondary School Activities Commission Class AAA playoff ratings, George Washington (6-0) and Cabell Midland (5-2) probably did their fair share of soul searching in the past seven days.

Last week, George Washington gave up 368 rushing yards - and 578 total yards - to a Hurricane team that came into their game averaging just 167 yards on the ground and 400 total.

The Patriots pulled out a 60-54 win by making a stop inside their own 15 yard-line in the final minute, but Coach Steve Edwards Jr. noted that his defense is not at full strength, and that substitutions had to be made in the second half in order to pull out that win.

Midland, meanwhile, entered its game at Capital averaging close to 425 rushing yards per game. The Cougars held them to 201 to win 35-26.

Tonight, GW visits Midland for a key showdown that could determine whether Midland is able to host a first-round playoff game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

While GW has relied heavily on senior running back Draven Riffe for much of its offensive firepower - he is second in Class AAA with 1,379 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns - Midland typically splits its carries between four running backs with overwhelming consequences for its opponents. Senior Kasey Thomas leads the Knights with 848 yards and 13 touchdowns, senior fullback Teran Barnitz has 599 yards and seven TDs, senior Donte Hendricks has run for 518 yards and five TDs, while wingback Alex Childers has added 381 yards and four scores.

In other games:

Woodrow Wilson (3-3) at Capital (5-1) - Coming off a three-week stretch in which the Cougars faced South Charleston, top-ranked Huntington and Cabell Midland, guarding against a letdown could be top priority for Coach Jon Carpenter's team tonight. The team could receive a shot in the arm from the expected return of running back James Richmond, who missed last week's win over Midland following the death of his father. In his absence, junior Kashuan Haley took firm hold of the role of offensive leader, and has 733 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Woodrow is led by Chase Hancock, who has 338 rushing yards and 358 yards receiving.

Winfield (3-3) at South Charleston (5-2) - The Generals' multi-faceted offense might be pressed to keep up with the Black Eagles' speed, but if there's a way for senior Chris Tucker to exploit the SC defense, Winfield Coach Craig Snyder will try to find it. After scoring six rushing touchdowns in an early-season win against Ripley, Tucker vaulted into the statewide receiving leaders list this week after an impressive showing against Nitro. Still, Winfield has its work cut out for it. SC quarterback Kentre Grier is the No. 3 passer in Class AAA, having completed 103-of-166 passes for 1,411 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Spring Valley (5-2) at Nitro (1-5) - Spring Valley has quietly put itself back into the thick of the playoff race, and has not lost since falling at home to South Charleston on Sept. 13. Colby Webb leads the Timberwolves' running attack with 565 yards and six TDs. Nitro is still led by sophomore running back Brayden Underwood's 603 yards and seven scores, but Underwood did not play last week in the Wildcats' loss to Winfield.

St. Albans (1-5) at Hurricane (3-3) - The Redskins amassed close to 600 yards of total offense against George Washington in a 60-54 loss last week. Back at home on turf, those numbers could actually increase against a St. Albans team that was held to 6 rushing yards last week against Princeton. Hurricane quarterback Austin Hensley is fourth among Class AAA passers with 1,338 yards on 88-of-143 attempts. Redskins running back Zach Pate leads his team with 571 rushing yards and 11 TDs.

Riverside (1-6) at Princeton (3-4) - The Tigers will be favored to get their record back to the .500 mark after a 2-0 start was followed by four consecutive losses. Tahj Sho-Johnson leads Princeton with 766 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Riverside's Will Jackson continues to impress in the Warriors' season of starting from scratch. He has 515 rushing yards and three scores.

Clay County (2-4) at Sissonville (5-1) - Big things were expected out of the Panthers after their first trip to the playoffs in a decade last year. As those things failed to develop, Sissonville emerged as a contender for not just a postseason berth but for home-field advantage through at least one round of the playoffs. Dominic Walker leads the Indians with 759 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Wayne (6-0) at Herbert Hoover (2-4) - The Huskies' last chance to get back into the Class AA playoff hunt comes against the two-time defending state champion Pioneers, and after a deflating second half against rival Sissonville last week. Hoover's Shaun Dotson leads the Huskies with 676 rushing yards, while Mason Hodge leads Wayne with 607. The Pioneers also use quarterback Grant Ferguson (371 yards rushing, 477 passing) and running back Nathan Spurlock (318 yards rushing) to fuel their wing-T offense.

Other games include Nicholas County (5-2) at Lincoln County (0-6), Parkersburg Catholic (6-1) at Valley (6-0), Tolsia (2-4) at Scott (3-4), Tug Valley (2-5) at Van (3-3), Man (5-1) at Sherman (2-5), Ravenswood (4-2) at Point Pleasant (6-0), Calhoun County (0-7) at Roane County (4-2), Greenbrier East (4-3) at Logan (4-2).

Poca (1-6), Buffalo (0-7) and Ripley (1-6) are idle this week.


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