Derek Taylor: A glance at recent trends on gridiron
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How quickly the high school football landscape can change is one of the sport's most intriguing qualities.
As a prime example, I offer my own Gridiron Gurus picks from last week, in which I picked just four of 11 high school winners correctly.
Some say that just goes to show how little I know about football. I don't, after all, know how to successfully attack a 3-5-3 defense. I know not to throw the ball to a kid wearing the other team's jersey, but that's about it.
After all, I'm not a coach.
Still, what I am paid to do is to spot trends before they become so obvious that everyone is already talking and/or writing about them. After last week's developments, many of us are still close to Square One in trying to anticipate those squads which are going to still be practicing and playing once the second week of November rolls around, bringing with it the first round of the playoffs.
For instance, Martinsburg's dominance of Morgantown at Pony Lewis Field in the Mohigans' backyard Friday night once and for all cleared away any hesitation in believing the Bulldogs (4-0) are again prime contenders to win the Class AAA state championship. Morgantown (2-1) ran just 18 plays from scrimmage in the first half of a 56-28 decision that by all account wasn't as close as the final score.
With that in mind, here's a quick look at trends that have become apparent in recent days.
Winfield - The Generals' 27-21 overtime win at home over Riverside put them in an unusual position: that of a potential playoff contender.
Although the Warriors are 1-3 and possess the most lenient defense in the Kanawha Valley (giving up an average of 508.3 yards per game) it was just the second time in school history Riverside had lost to a Putnam County team. The only other loss to a team from Putnam County was a 21-0 setback to Hurricane in 2006.
Winfield, who was on the lips of most prep football followers this summer only in reference to the fact that Cabell Midland senior All-State running back David Gaydosz had left the Generals program to join the Knights, are 2-2, and have games remaining against Class AAA No. 9 Point Pleasant (3-0), Logan (3-1), Midland (4-0), Nitro (1-3), St. Albans (0-4) and Spring Valley (2-2).
University - The Hawks are sophomore dominated, but at 4-0, appear to be maturing quicker than anticipated. Coach John Kelley's team has outscored its opponents by a count of 137-21 and is coming off back-to-back wins over winless Brooke (45-0) and 2011 playoff qualifier Wheeling Park (27-7). University, which is ranked seventh in the latest Daily Mail poll, travels to No. 8 Parkersburg South (3-1) on Friday night.
Spring Valley - The only .500 team to appear in any of the three Daily Mail poll rankings this week. The Timberwolves (2-2) thrashed previously unbeaten Beckley (3-1) at home last week, and appear to have their offense in gear. West Virginia commit Elijah Wellman continued the rushing rampage he began against South Charleston in Week 3 by running for 271 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Logan - The Wildcats were a surprise in going 8-2 in the regular season in 2011, qualifying to host a first-round playoff game. They started this season 3-0 after losing All-State picks David Toney and Joe Street to graduation, but when faced with their first true challenge of the season, fell to Johnson Central, Ky., 46-12, last weekend.
Logan's wins this season have come against Shady Spring (1-2), Lincoln County (0-4) and Class A Man (1-3).
Ravenswood - After a 2-0 start, first-year Coach Mick Price knew the Red Devils were in for a bit of a comeuppance when taking on defending state champion and top-ranked Wayne (3-0) at home last week. What neither Price nor likely anyone expected was an 84-point Pioneers outburst that highlighted both Wayne's depth and Ravenswood's inexperience.
The Little Kanawha Conference in which Ravenswood competes is in flux this season, with its Class AA membership a combined 9-10 and no team owning more than two wins through four weeks. Ravenswood will be favored in the bulk of its remaining games, but its youth dictates that it will be hard for the team to avoid taking a step back to fully rebuild from the graduation losses of so many impact players from recent seasons.