CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia high school football playoffs don't officially begin until next weekend, but for Hurricane and Spring Valley, the playoff-like pressure will begin in earnest this evening.
No. 18 Hurricane (5-4) travels to face No. 13 Spring Valley (6-3) in a Class AAA matchup that will alter the playoff seeding, regardless of the outcome.
Hurricane faces a must-win game to have a chance at the postseason, while Spring Valley will look to better its seeding.
"It's win or go home," Hurricane Coach Jeremy Taylor said. "The way we've got it figured out is if we win we're in, if we lose we're not. It would take a small miracle for us to win and not be in, so I think we'll be fine.
"We just have to worry about the game in front of us and compete with Spring Valley."
While their playoff berth is virtually assured, the Timberwolves aren't cruising through tonight's game.
"It's a must-win for them and we've been treating the game as a must-win for us too," Spring Valley Coach Brad Dingess said. "There's still an outside shot that we don't get in, but you hate to rest your fate in other people's hands.
"It's a playoff game for both of us. Our kids have done well in making the playoffs five years in a row and I think it changed the outlook of our kids last year when they won a game. It made them a little hungrier this year than they have been in the past.
"I like the attitude of our kids."
The Timberwolves had been 0-9 all-time in the playoffs before a first-round win last season. They were eliminated a week later in a two-point loss to eventual state runner-up Cabell Midland.
Hurricane is in its current predicament thanks in part to an unforgiving Mountain State Athletic Conference schedule. The Redskins have lost to top-ranked Huntington, No. 3 Capital, No. 5 George Washington and No. 8 Midland.
"When people ask me why we're just 5-4, I tell them it's because of four numbers. Number one, number three, number five and number eight ... that's who we've lost to.
"If there was a selection committee, I'd say we wouldn't have a problem even at 5-5 because of our schedule. Unfortunately, it's not like that and we have to win one more. According to the so-called experts, we've won every game we should have won and we've lost every game we should have lost. Most people expect us to lose this week, so we don't have anything to lose."
The Redskins will have to contend with Spring Valley's power running game to avoid it's second straight loss in the series. Spring Valley won last 55-27 last season to snap a three-game losing skid to Hurricane.