The scoreboard operator at Wimer Stadium in Elkins figures to be busy Friday night when Wheeling Park and the homestanding Elkins Tigers meet in a battle of high-scoring offenses.
Elkins (6-1) is enjoying a terrific season running its single-wing attack which has seen the Tigers score 291 points for an average of 41.6 points per game. The Patriots (4-3), who have played a much more demanding schedule, are averaging 51.0 the last three games, racking up 153 points while rolling past Brooke and John Marshall before coming up short in a 42-39 loss to Morgantown last Friday night.
Overall, Coach Chris Daugherty's club has scored 242 points for an average of 34.5 ppg.
File Photo by Art Limann
Wheeling Park’s Liam Casey (28) is one of the valley’s Big School kicking leaders.
''Our offense has been doing a good job the last few weeks," Daugherty said. ''The kids now understand their roles and are starting to come together.''
Park's special teams also have been getting into the act thanks to the explosiveness of junior speedster Eric Banks. In the narrow defeat to Morgantown, Banks returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. His recent move to receiver turned out to be a major plus for the the Patriots' air attack as Banks was on the receiving end of two scoring strikes thrown by junior classmate Zach Phillips.
Bryce Ingram, another dynamic Park junior, leads the rushing game with 610 yards and eight touchdowns on 97 carries. Phillips, continuing to make strides in his first season directing the attack, enters this week having completed 54 of 91 passes for 844 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Elkins offense is putting up incredible numbers without having much of a passing game. Coach Greg Hott's Tigers are averaging 407 yards rushing per game, led by L.J. Lawrence, a 6-0, 165-pound transfer from Hopewell (Pa.) High School. In his first seven games, Lawrence's impressive statistics include 1,237 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on 110 carries.
Two other Tigers' senior running backs also have gained over 600 yards. Collett Clayton (5-7, 168) averages nearly 10 yards per carry with his 681 yards and nine touchdowns on 69 attempts. Nick Martin (5-10, 160) has picked up 603 yards and seven touchdowns on 84 rushes.
''It's going to require a little extra planning this week getting ready for Elkins' single-wing attack," Daugherty pointed out.
''We don't see that very often and we'll spend more time on defense than we normally do."
Although disappointed the Patriots came up short against the talented Morgantown visitors last week, Daugherty could not have been more pleased with the effort he saw from his players.
''It was a good football game. Everybody got their money's worth but it still hurts a little bit. We had our chances to take that one away from them. But the kids played really hard and they played every second of that game. Over the long haul, that night might have made us a better football team," Daugherty said.
Park's hopes of making a return trip to the playoffs remains a viable possibility that would receive a good boost if the Ohio County squad can get past Elkins.
''We have to keep plugging away," Daugherty said. ''Our schedule has been difficult all year and we haven't lost to a bad team."
The Patriots three losses have come against teams with a combined record of 18-2. St. Clairsville remains undefeated at 7-0, while University (6-1) lost for the first time last week to Bridgeport and Morgantown, currently with a 5-1 mark.
Bridgeport, incidentally, came up short 14-13 in an early-season game against Park in Wheeling. Morgantown's lone setback came against two-time defending West Virginia Class AAA champion Martinsburg.