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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It’s now time for Woodrow to talk Nitro

Finally, it’s acceptable to talk about Nitro.

Woodrow Wilson (8-0 and still No. 1 in the latest Class AAA ratings) and the Wildcats (7-1 and No. 4) meet Friday night in Nitro. For weeks, the showdown has been bandied about as THE game on Woodrow Wilson’s schedule.

A duel between the two AAA titans also features some of the top talent in the state, including Kennedy Award (state’s top player) favorite Josh Culbertson.

It will be Woodrow Wilson’s biggest game since facing Morgantown in the playoffs two years ago, and the Eagles can virtually sew up home-field advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs with a win.

“We’re excited about it and I’m glad people are talking about it,” Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly said. “At least they’re talking about football.”

A couple of areas to watch during the game are the Flying Eagles’ defense against the trio of Culbertson, wide receiver Chris Fulmer and quarterback Michael Scott, and the weather.

Something’s got to give.

Woodrow has given up just 76 points in eight games (9.5 ppg), tops in the Mountain State Athletic Conference. Nitro has scored 317 points (39.6 ppg), which also leads the MSAC.

Containing Culbertson might not be possible. He hasn’t been held to under 185 yards in two years. This season he has 2,253 yards on 202 carries with 29 touchdowns and recently broke the career rushing record held previously by Weir and WVU star Quincy Wilson.

Many have billed it a matchup between Culbertson and Marcus Manns, Woodrow’s do-it-all threat at tailback.

“I can’t speak for Marcus, but I don’t think he cares about that hype one bit,” Lilly said. “He wants the win. And I think it’s an insult to Nitro’s team when people say they are a one-man team. Culbertson is a great player. But they also have a great receiver in (Chris Fulmer) and their young quarterback is getting better with each game. And their defense will get after you.”

Then there’s the weather, which could be wet, making the surface muddy.

Woodrow Wilson’s offense is predicated on speed, for sure. But Manns was a “mudder” last Friday, sloshing his way to 274 yards and five scores in a 34-7 win at Huntington.

For the year, Manns show 923 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 100 carries.

“I think both teams showed they could play in the mud last week,” said Lilly, noting both teams scored big wins despite seven turnovers each.

If he hasn’t already, Culbertson can sew up the Kennedy Award with a big game against Woodrow Wilson’s stout defense.

Lilly said the game features an array of talent on both sides. He can’t believe Division I colleges haven’t gotten on the likes of Culbertson, Fulmer and Woodrow Wilson’s Adam Parkulo (linebacker), Austin Peters (linebacker) and Manns.

“What more do you want?” he asked of Culbertson. “He has all those numbers and it’s not like he’s doing it against bad teams. He’s played good teams and put up those numbers. And Fulmer is an excellent receiver.”

Fulmer caught 10 passes for 226 yards in a 47-7 win over Ripley last week. He has 56 catches for 979 yards and nine TDs and recently broke the career receiving record held previously by Chris Mart

“As for Parkulo and Peters, I don’t know what people are looking at,” Lilly said. “What more can these guys do (Parkulo has 11 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and has over 100 tackles through eight games, and Peters is second on the team in tackles)? And I think what Marcus has done speaks for itself.”

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