Prep football: Oak Hill set to tackle Knights, if it can
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. -- Oak Hill played its way into the Class AAA high school football playoffs with a regular season finale win over Lincoln County.
Their effort earned the No. 16 Red Devils (7-3) a first-round playoff trip to Cabell County, where they'll face unbeaten and top-ranked Cabell Midland (10-0).
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cabell Midland High School in Ona.
For long time Mount Hope and current Oak Hill Coach Eddie Souk, the biggest concern entering the contest is the Knights' potent ground attack.
Midland enters the contest with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in seniors David Gaydosz (1,455 yards, 22 TD) and Lowell Farley (1,260, 13 TD).
"All I can go by is what I've read about them, but I know they're going to be a big, physical football team that can run the football," Souk said. "We're glad to be here, but we're not so glad to be here that we don't think we have a chance. We're going to try to be competitive in the playoffs and it's going to be a big challenge for us."
The biggest challenge for the Red Devils against the Knights' ground game will be tackling the Knights' quick and punishing backs.
To Souk, in his 32nd season as a coach, tackling has become somewhat of a lost art that has been discarded by uptempo, pass-oriented spread offenses.
"I think the biggest thing for us is that kids just don't know how to tackle anymore," Souk said. "I think we need to work on tackling this week. So many teams have gone to the spread that I think teams that run the ball have a little bit of an advantage because of that.
"People are more worried about their blocking schemes with zoning this and zoning that, that it makes it a little tougher for you to prepare for a big running team because you don't see it as much.
"I'm sure they'll be physical because they're big and the only way to stop that is to be physical defensively. We'll work on that this week and just try to prepare the best we can."
The Red Devils will also pose a problem for the Knights with their running game, which features leading rusher junior back Jalen Jones and senior fullback Ray Sullivan.
"We're a running team too," Souk said. "We probably throw the ball five or six times a game. Every team that you play has a kid that you need to key on and try to stop and I think everybody's in the same boat there.
"We're more rounded than just one athlete though. We've got three or four other kids that we can use for different things.
"Those are things they'll have to prepare for just like us having to prepare for things they do."
Second-year Midland Coach Luke Salmons, who guided the team to its first unbeaten regular season, thinks his team is ready to do just that.
"We've played a lot of good teams this season, but at the same time everyone is 0-0 now and we all start over," Salmons said. "We've just got to focus on the next thing, which is Oak Hill. We're going to get back and go to work on them because we know we're going to get everybody's best shot and it's a different level of play after the regular season.
"All we can do now is take care of ourselves. It doesn't change from week one to now because you're going to be who you are. You're not going to change a lot at this time. You may add a few wrinkles here and there, but that's about all you can do."