CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As frequently as Tom Harmon and Bruce Carey have led their teams into the Class AA playoffs, they have only met head-to-head twice.
Carey will lead No. 13 seed Robert C. Byrd (9-3) into the semifinals Friday at Huntington High School, where the Eagles seek their first trip to the Super Six. All they've got to do to punch their ticket to Wheeling Island Stadium is beat top-seeded Wayne (12-0).
Harmon and Carey first met in the 2000 Class AA title game, when Carey's Bridgeport team downed Wayne 14-6 in what was the first of six Super Six appearances for the Pioneers under Harmon's direction.
The last time the two met was just last season, when Wayne beat Byrd 18-0 in the semifinals en route to its second consecutive state championship.
"There's a respect factor there," Harmon said when asked about Byrd's unlikely postseason run.
Chapmanville reached the semifinals in 2011 as a No. 13 seed, but prior to the Tigers' loss to Point Pleasant two years ago the last time a team seeded No. 12 or higher reached the semis was in 1995. That year, No. 16 seed Musselman upset top-seeded South Harrison in the first round then ran the table to become the only 16th-seeded team to win a state championship.
"I know the basics of that (brand of) football up there," Harmon said. "Everything they do is quality, and they're going to be schematically correct. He gets them to play hard.
"A lot of times you can change the faces in the helmets and the teams are pretty similar and usually they're pretty good."
Byrd has battled injuries and inexperience through much of the season, beginning with the loss of 2012 All-State running back Ben D'Annunzio in the season opener against Fairmont Senior.
D'Annunzio returned late after breaking his collar bone against the Polar Bears, but did not dress for the Eagles' win at No. 12 seed Ritchie County in the quarterfinals.
The team has run the stick-I - a holdover from Carey's days at Bridgeport - often this season, but has also used some wildcat formations and pro sets. In recent weeks sophomore Juwan Jones-Wright (6-foot, 235 pounds) has emerged as a bruising running back for the Eagles. He leads the team with 779 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 118 carries.
Carey was impressed with his team's ability to overcome obstacles in even reaching the postseason.
"I've got six seniors, and not many of them play, and just four juniors," he said. "They've had to toughen up quickly."