WHEELING -Linsly doesn't have a postseason to play for, and coach B.J. Depew admits that maybe the Cadets are missing something without it.
Or maybe not.
"To be honest, our first four games, to go from Magnolia, to Parkersburg South, to (Martins) Ferry and now Wheeling Central, it feels like a playoff stretch for us so far," Depew said.
Benton Nanners (12) and the Linsly Cadets hope to block Wheeling Central from its third victory.
Saturday night's game with Central at Wheeling Island Stadium may be the biggest of them all, Depew said.
"We kind of consider this the city championship," the coach said. "There are three schools in (Wheeling) and two play each other. So I guess it's the unofficial city championship."
Officially, it is a rivalry.
This year the old rivals meet coming off losses, a rare occurrence entering the game.
Somebody is going to get back on track in this one.
"We're both trying to get going," Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. "Both teams have to step up and it's always a good battle between us and Linsly."
Indeed, Linsly is coming off a physical 28-21 loss to Martins Ferry.
Central went to Madonna Saturday and, five turnovers later, left with a 42-7 loss.
Neither coach is reading anything into the other's loss.
"They played a real good Matins Ferry team and the loss doesn't make them any less a team than they were before," Young said. "We know Linsly is always an outstanding team and program."
Depew was just as adament about Central, along-time Class A power in West Virginia.
"Madonna is an outstanding team and we know Central didn't play its best game," Depew said. "We can't read anything into that final score. We know we have our hands full."
Especially with Wheeling Central's spin offense.
With Parker Henry back behind center, after missing a year, Depew said the Maroon Knights are that much better.
"He's a great athlete, does a great job running that offense," Depew said. "The key against that offense is reading your keys. A lot of times they'll get guys looking in the backfield or trying to locate the ball, and by the time they do, the play is already past them. You have to maintain your responsibility, trust the defense."
Henry has 305 yards on the ground this season and four touchdowns.
Linsly also boasts a good running game behind Chimechi Oparanozie, who has 358 yards and four touchdowns. Young also pointed to veteran QB Jameson Murray. The senior is coming off a game where he completed 9 of 22 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns, both to sophomore Isaiah Harvin.
"They run the ball well and Murray is a veteran who does an outstanding job running the offense," Young said.
For the season, Murray has completed 29 of 60 passes for 403 yards and four touchdowns.
Both teams eye getting back on track.
"We're not used to losing and we're not going to get used to losing," Young said. "We're going to rally and we're going to come back strong. There is a lot of pride and heart at Central. We're going to get back to the basics. Blocking and tackling. The fundamentals."
Ditto Linsly, which will be without defensive force Dom Ellis, who is out with a "significant" ankle sprain.
"Both teams are similar," Depew said. "We both won a tossup game in Week 1, we both beat a team that was coming off a big win the week before in Week 2, and we are both coming off tough losses last week. We are both looking to build some momentum. There is a lot riding on this game."