Prep football: Hurricane passing game a threat to Spring Valley
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After four games of his tenure, first-year Hurricane football Coach Jeremy Taylor saw the potentially negative side effects of a Mountain State Athletic Conference schedule, as his Redskins were saddled with a 2-2 record.
A month and three consecutive wins later, Taylor and Class AAA No. 7 Hurricane (5-2) are looking at potentially hosting a first-round Class AAA playoff game as they head into a pivotal game at 7:30 tonight against visiting No. 10 Spring Valley (4-3).
That's life in the MSAC: high risk, high reward.
The Redskins are coming off consecutive wins against Capital, Ripley and Greenbrier East. In those pursuits, junior quarterback Austin Hensley rose to the top of the area passing leaders chart, having thrown for 1,605 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions.
A particular element of the Hurricane offense that could pose a challenge to the Timberwolves is its use of a spread formation. Spring Valley's defense has proven to be stout against teams when they run straight at it, but have struggled more against offenses that make use of the entire field.
Such was the case in Spring Valley's 42-7 loss to George Washington on Oct. 5.
Hurricane has three players that rank among the area's top receivers.
Junior Koi Turner is the Redskins' top pass-catcher, with 43 catches for 592 yards and five touchdowns. Zach Pate (35 catches, 455 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Steven Handley (20-299-5) also provide Hensley with capable targets.
Spring Valley opened the season with consecutive losses to Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland and No. 4 Huntington, giving the team losses to three of the top four ranked teams in the state. The Timberwolves are led by West Virginia commitment Elijah Wellman, who has run for 974 yards and seven touchdowns from his fullback position.
In other area games:
Class AAA No. 3 George Washington (6-1) at Capital (4-3) - See story, page 1B.
Poca (2-5) at Class AA No. 1 Wayne (7-0) - As the thinness of the Dots roster has been exposed with the continuation of the season, Wayne's depth remains its biggest asset. Pioneer senior running back Brandon Spurlock has 918 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on just 67 carries. Poca junior T.T. Loudin leads the Dots with 840 rushing yards while quarterback Jake Payne has gained 669 on the ground.
Herbert Hoover (1-7) at Class AA No. 9 Roane County (4-3) - The weary Huskies travel to Spencer to take on a Raiders team that re-entered the Daily Mail Poll after an off week. Roane is led by quarterback Hunter Bradley, who has run for 561 yards and thrown for 630 more. Shaun Dotson leads Hoover with 611 rushing yards.
Fayetteville (0-7) at Class A No. 4 Buffalo (6-1) - Through eight weeks and seven games, Bison quarterback Levi Jordan is the only small-school quarterback in the area who has thrown for more than 1,000 yards (he has 1,212). The Pirates will miss the playoffs for the first time since a 2-8 season in 2006.
South Charleston (5-3) at Ripley (3-5) - The SC offense exploded last week in a 70-28 win over Nitro. Freshman Kentre Grier has rapidly climbed the area passing leaders chart, having thrown for 1,056 yards since taking over control of the Black Eagles offense on Sept. 21. Key to SC's success since then has been Grier's ability to stay away from turnovers. He's thrown 14 touchdown passes without an interception.
Winfield (2-5) at Nitro (2-5) - Generals quarterback Toby Show is within range of Winfield's school single-season passing record, set by Taylor Farley in 2008. This could turn into a shootout, as Nitro's Chris Moody has thrown for 1,381 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Show has 1,032 yards and six touchdowns. He has been intercepted six times.
St. Albans (1-7) at Lincoln County (0-7) - St. Albans got its first win of the season last week by beating Ripley at home. With a little momentum, senior running back Drew Kirby and Co. look to get No. 2 in Hamlin tonight. Kirby has run for 905 yards as the workhorse back in SA's new spread offense.
Beckley (5-3) at Riverside (1-6) - Warriors quarterback Trevor Rumberg had a hard time keeping his stat pace either on the ground or through the air last week in a blowout loss to GW. Beckley visits tonight, having yielded an average of 30.6 points per game.
Sherman (1-6) at Sissonville (3-4) - The Indians saw their playoff hopes take a hit last week with a surprise loss at surging Clay County. They'll have a chance to right the ship tonight against an extremely young Tide team.
Other games include Princeton (1-7) at Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland (8-0), Richwood (3-4) at Valley (6-1), Ravenswood (2-5) at Clay County (3-4), Class A No. 8 Greenbrier West (7-1) at Van (1-6), Tolsia (3-5) at Chapmanville (4-3), Shady Spring (4-3) at Point Pleasant (5-2), Mingo Central (4-3) at Logan (5-2).