MoHawk Bowl Highlights Week 10 Action
No. 2 Morgantown can complete its second consecutive unbeaten regular season Friday night with a victory over rival University in the annual MoHawk Bowl. The defending Class AAA champion Mohigans have won 23 in a row overall. The Hawks won the MoHawk Bowl the first time it was played at Mountaineer Field back in 1999. Since then, Morgantown has won seven in a row against its crosstown rival, including a pair of playoff games.
The game has drawn a crowd of over 10,000 each year since it was moved to Mountaineer Field in 1999. The crowd the first year was the biggest ever as it was estimated at over 22,000.
"The game has always been a big community event," stated MHS head coach John Bowers. "It's a celebration of football in Monongalia County."
Morgantown has peaked coming down the stretch. The MHS defense has allowed just one touchdown in the past two games in beating Parkersburg South and John Marshall.
"In everything we've done, our players have exceeded our expectations," admitted Bowers. "We aim for the sky at Morgantown, and these guys do everything they can to reach it. Our defense has been a very pleasant surprise by how dominant it's been. These guys do everything well. They've tackled well, they are very sound in their assignments, and they don't try to play outside of the scheme."
For the Morgantown players, matching what last year's state title team did isn't as much a priority as is carving out its own niche.
“We started off a little slow this year," said MHS defensive back/receiver John Hatfield. "Last year's team was just so dominant, and they worked so hard. It was kind of hard to follow in their footsteps. But this team has worked hard, too, and we're hoping we can follow up and make it all the way back to the title game."
In some ways, this year's Morgantown team could even be better than last year's team.
"Last year we were kind of one dimensional," admitted senior fullback/linebacker Maxwell Anderson. "We ran the ball with Spencer (Farley) all the time. This year, we have several different running backs who are sharing the load, and Chuck (junior quarterback Charlie Russell) is spreading the ball around to many different receivers, and he's throwing the ball real well right now."
University, which is No. 7 in this week’s Class AAA ratings, usually presents some problems for Morgantown, because of the multiple sets it utilizes on offense. The Hawks also manage to come up with a defensive wrinkle to make the Mohigans adjust as well.
"Balance has been the key for us," says UHS coach John Kelley. "If you look at the games we've won, it's been because we've been balanced on offense. We are going to try and change things up on offense to give us more weapons. It's pretty easy to watch #45 (245-pound fullback Cory Jackson) and let him carry the offense, but what we've been working on the last few weeks to get some more kids involved and to get more speed in the offense. On defense, we are going to try and move it around a little bit and not lock in on one thing. It's still going to come down to man-to-man. Beating your man and being more physical, that's the team that will win the game."
The University offense was on a roll between week three and week seven.
"Everything came together for awhile there," says Hawks quarterback Justin Hostetler. "Our line was blocking well, the receivers were making plays, the running backs were breaking tackles. The balance is everything. That's what we have to get back to."
It is more than just a game to several players who will take the field Friday.
"You can't say it's not the end of the world if we lose, but it would be the end of the world," emphasized UHS linebacker/fullback Cory Jackson. "We want to get this game. We want to prove that we are one of the top teams in the state. And we want home field advantage in the playoffs."
The bottom line for the players in this game is to have fun and savor the moment.
"It's like a college game and a college atmosphere," says Morgantown lineman Adam Brandt. "There is nothing like it. There is a huge crowd. It's a big rivalry, and all of the fans get into it. There is nothing that compares to the big rush you get right before you run on to the field."
Playoff Implications Abound as #8 Bridgeport hosts #16 Fairmont Senior
A 9-1 record would clinch home playoff game for the first time since moving back to Class AAA for Bridgeport. Fairmont Senior (5-3), meanwhile, would all but clinch a playoff spot if it could pull off the road upset. The Polar Bears still have one game to play following this week, as they will face rival East Fairmont at East/West Stadium next week. The 19th-ranked Bees (5-4) are idle this week.
Buckhannon-Upshur, which is ranked fifth in Class AAA with an 8-1 record, is also off this week. The Buccaneers will complete their regular season next week at home against Elkins (0-8).
Other games around the region:
North Marion at Elkins
Lewis County at Robert C. Byrd
Nicholas County at Summers County
Parkersburg South at Preston
Grafton at Lincoln
Philip Barbour at Liberty
Notre Dame at Clay-Battelle
South Harrison at Richwood
Eastern Panhandle Prep Football Report: Week 10
The Jefferson Cougars continued to go where no Jefferson Cougar team has gone before: 9-0. The Cougars have won games with a very consistent approach this year. By and large, they’ve played solid defense and have killed with team speed. The Cougars have also shown the ability to come from behind, rallying already this season from a 22-point deficit to win. They’ve surprised some teams who’ve not taken them seriously because of their decade long streak of futility, which was snapped with last season’s 8-4 record.
Heading in to Friday night’s game against Hedgesville, the Cougars had done everything asked of them this season except for one thing: Take the field as the top team in the area and play like it. Following last week’s 32-0 thrashing of the previous top dog, Martinsburg a couple weeks ago, the Cougars were clearly the top team in the area and the pressure and the bull’s eye were now clearly on them.
The role of top cat appeared to shake Jefferson early, as it fumbled away the game’s opening kickoff and a play later found itself down 7-0 when Hedgesville’s Michael Lopez (three rushes, 26 yards, 5/17 passing for 68 yards) kept the football and ran around the right end for a 37-yard touchdown. That unsteadiness, though, took a serious turn for the better when Josh Brown blazed 88 yards with the ensuing kickoff to knot it all up. That unsteadiness became downright calm as the Cougars rattled off another 31 first half points to lead 38-7 at the intermission. Again, speed killed. Patrick Burns (four of six for 135 yards) whipped the long ball to Brendan McLaughlin, who caught it over the shoulder and in stride for a 61-yard go-ahead score with 7:38 still to play in the opening quarter. Three minutes and 21 seconds later, Burns hooked up with Seth Gregory from the six to up it to 21-7. Burns muscled in from the one in the second quarter and 1:33 after that, Ryland Newman (19-184-2) disappeared into a pack on a handoff and somehow emerged from the muddied and rain soaked wreckage for a 67-yard touchdown dash. Sam Moore’s 25-yard field goal six seconds ahead of the marching band’s appointment with the soggy fescue only added to the Eagle’s misery.
The Eagles added a safety and a couple of touchdown runs, one by Daniel Kershner from 11 yards out and another on a nifty twisting 35-yard effort by Rocky Lane (21-101) to pad their point total. For his part, Newman matched his first half sprint from 67 yards with another in the second half. For all of their efforts, though, the Cougars dropped a slot to third in the latest WVSSAC standings, despite their 45-22 victory over Hedgesville. Jefferson is off this week before closing at Waynesboro, Pa. Should the Cougars win their 10th game, they would still need a Morgantown or Woodrow Wilson loss to finish in the top two in Class AAA.
Martinsburg is now 8-1, as the Bulldogs rebounded nicely from their loss to Jefferson with an impressive 45-9 rout of the Fort Hill Sentinels at Cumberland, Maryland’s Greenway Avenue Stadium. Quarterback Cameron Shelton led the revival with a nine of 10 passing night for 109 yards and touchdown passes of 13 yards to Xavier Peters and 40 yards to D.J. Porter. Shelton also rushed four times for 48 yards and a 21-yard scoring run. Josh Twyman added touchdown runs of nine and three yards, plus a punt return score from 62, and Travis Williams punched one in late from a yard out. Martinsburg’s defense rang up five sacks and held Fort Hill to 149 total yards of offense. Robert Fields forced a fumble and DJ Adams recovered it for the Dog defense. Martinsburg will visit 4-5 Musselman this Friday.
The Applemen escaped Hampshire with a 21-19 win. Flashback: It was the 10th anniversary of the 1995 game played in a deluge in Romney. Musselman won that game 7-3, holding Hampshire on four tries from the one in the final seconds. The Applemen used that win to make the AA playoffs by the slimmest of margins as a 16 seed in their final season in that classification. Musselman then went on to become the first and only 16 seed to win a state championship in West Virginia, defeating Bluefield 17-13 at Wheeling Island Stadium in the title game.
While it wasn’t raining quite as hard in Romney in 2005, it was still wet and the Applemen still won. Rusty Riner scored on a one-yard run, while Allen Kees caught a four-yarder from Ethan French. Rome Johnson ripped off a 36-yarder for a score for Hampshire and then a seven-yarder. J.R. Shuchs recovered a fumble in the endzone for six. Richard Shanholtz had an interception for the Trojans.
In Class AA, Frankfort kept its hopes alive with a 9-6 win in the rain over Southern at Cumberland, Maryland. The Falcons, 5-4, forced three turnovers in the slop. Quarterback Jason Blackburn scored on a 15-yard keeper to tie the game at six and Cody Popluhar’s 27-yard field goal in the third quarter stood up as the game winner. Popluhar contributed 10 tackles a sack and a fumble recovery on defense, while Jason Yoder’s fumble recovery in the fourth quarter sealed the win. Yoder added 106 rushing yards on 18 carries and then turned around and got in on 17 tackles on the defensive side. Jared Donzan recorded nine tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal.
Keyser welcomed back its former head coach, Tom Preaskorn who is now the head coach at Allegany (Md.) High, and apparently was a bit too welcoming, as Campers whipped the Golden Tornado 22-6. Allegany lead 22-0 at the half. Derrick Harman (11-56) woke up the crowd for a brief moment with a 35-yard touchdown run, but Keyser missed the point after. Marcus Brown contributed eight rushes for 54 yards. Chris Szafran had an off night throwing the ball with just 46 yards on four completions. Elsewhere in Class AA, Berkeley Springs defeated Beall (Md.), 15-9, while Petersburg kept Class A Moorefield winless, 14-13.
East Hardy jumped its mark to 5-3 with a 28-0 win over Turkeyfoot, Pa. Alex Foltz continued his strong season with 262 yards on a 18 carries, one of which went for an 87-yard score. Foltz has now rushed for 1350 yards on just 127 carries. He has tallied 106 points on 16 touchdowns, seven extra points and a field goal. The field goal just happened to be a 29-yarder in the win over Turkeyfoot. Jeremiah Bowman had two scores against Turkeyfoot, one from five and the next from six yards away. Donovan Bregg opened the scoring with a one-yard run in the opening quarter. The EH defense preserved the shutout with a goal line stand executed by the second teamers. Chris Kerr had a fumble recovery on the night for EH, while Josh Orndorff did the same. EH will host Randolph Macon Academy before closing at Petersburg. Head coach Leon Franklin feels that if EH wins out, it has a chance to finish as high as 15th, thus earning a spot in the 16-team Class A playoff field.