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.