"We've got some strong senior leadership right now," Messinger said. "The linemen are going to have to start carrying the load as far as leadership. We have got to start running the ball more efficiently if we plan to make a run of any kind at the end of the season."
Standing behind that line will be Grier, who looked more seasoned than anyone could have expected last week. Grier completed 16-of-24 passes for 210 yards against St. Albans, and he showed he could replace some of Cunningham's production on the ground. Grier rushed for 87 yards on 11 carries.
Grier did, however, fumble late in the second quarter, which helped St. Albans go up 14-7. The high school rookie then found his composure and South Charleston scored 28 unanswered points.
"Coach told me don't worry about it and move on to the next play," Grier said. "And that's what I did."
One hundred and ninety two minutes - four games against Lincoln County, Nitro, Ripley and Parkersburg. Messinger and his team may be experiencing a little déjà vu. This time last year, South Charleston had these four games and needed all four to make the playoffs. The Black Eagles went 3-1 over that stretch, losing to Parkersburg and ensuring that it would indeed be their last game of the season.
"We've got to take care of business at South Charleston," Messinger said. "It was a real wakeup call last year when we finished 5-5 and didn't make the playoffs."
If the playoffs started today, the Black Eagles would be enjoying the crisp fall Friday nights without their pads and helmets. They are currently ranked 20th, according to the SSAC. Their biggest win was over Capital (3-2), along with losses to George Washington, Spring Valley and Cabell Midland.
South Charleston wants to prove it belongs in the postseason again, but there is no doubt what the Black Eagles' coach and starting quarterback think. When asked if his squad was a playoff team, Grier said, "Yes, by far."
He and his teammates have four games, 16 quarters and 192 minutes to prove it.