Sophomore Savion Johnson, the son of 1991 Kennedy Award winner Daryl "Boogie" Johnson, has emerged in Ingram's absence and the Patriots have evolved into a team that runs to set up the pass rather than the other way around.
Johnson (5-10, 205) has 1,101 yards and 14 touchdowns on 155 carries. Wheeling Park Coach Chris Daugherty said Johnson is ahead of schedule.
"It really has helped us. We started out the year with Bryce hurt and we thought Savion was going to be a good football player, but we didn't think he was quite ready," Daugherty said. "It was like, 'Well, here you go. You've got to get this done.'
"He got better with every carry, and you could see the team start to trust him and allow him to grow into the player that he is."
Daugherty added he was pleased with Mays' decision to keep their first-round game in step with the regular-season schedule.
"We wondered before we got here what they would do. I know what I would do. I'm a Friday guy," Daugherty said. "I was happy about that. I know I wouldn't want to spend a night before a game in a hotel with kids. There's too much to worry about instead of the game. I'm a bus guy. Let's go and get it done."
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WITH ALL THE attention thrown toward Morgantown senior running back and 2,000-yard rusher Chazzy Thomas throughout the season, University earned the No. 6 seed - and a win over its arch-rival on Nov. 1 - with comparatively little fanfare.
The teams meet again in the first round when No. 11 seed Morgantown (8-2) returns to Mylan Pharmaceutical Stadium at University on Saturday night.
"We've been under the radar and in the shadow of them and Chazzy," University Coach John Kelley said. "The game last Friday (against Morgantown) was one-tenth of the season. You get a trophy but it's insignificant to this game. This is what's most important.
"Would I rather play someone else in the first round? Of course I would, but you have to play Morgantown anyway. They're one of the premier programs in the state, and looking around here, there's no easy teams. We found that out last year."
In 2012 the Hawks had the No. 6 seed and were upset at home by No. 11 seed Lewis County, 24-23.
Senior quarterback Travis Renner (6-0, 175) has led the Hawks in rushing and passing for most of the season. He enters the playoffs with 716 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while also having completed 81-of-132 passes (61.3 percent) for 1,120 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
More recently, Kelley has inserted junior defensive back Jace Neville (5-6, 162) into the tailback spot for the offense to replace senior running back Tyler Piktel (5-8, 212). Neville has responded well, and has 486 yards and seven touchdowns on 64 carries, most of which has come in the last three games of the regular season
"We moved Piktel, who is a bigger back but not a breakaway back. With this spread we needed more speed so Jace has done well," Kelley said. "Piktel didn't do anything wrong, it's just that Neville gave us more breakaway speed and gets on the edge a lot easier."
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WASHINGTON HIGH School qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the school's six-year history. The No. 10 seed Patriots (7-3) will visit seventh-seeded Cabell Midland (8-2) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Washington senior Colin Gustines (5-10, 180) was the second-leading rusher in Class AAA during the regular season. He carried the ball 214 times for 1,769 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.tay...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.