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Wheeling Park Plays Host to South Charleston

November 14, 2013
By SHAWN RINE , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Generally speaking, a typical No. 5 vs. No. 12 West Virginia Class AAA playoff matchup usually doesn't amount to much more than a walk through. When Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty looks at film of South Charleston, what he doesn't see is your typical No. 12 team.

The Eagles have three losses, but they came against top-ranked Huntington (21-17), as well as No. 3 Capital (34-31) and No. 8 George Washington (34-27)

''I think the last couple years when we made it in at 7-3, it's probably how people thought of us, being a team that no one kind of wanted to see in the first round,'' Daugherty said. ''That's exactly what South Charleston is, and, man, they play a good schedule.''

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Spot-on quarterback Zach Phillips and Wheeling Park want to avoid an upset in their 5-12 matchup with South Charleston.

The truth is, the No. 5 Patriots (9-1) and the No. 12 Eagles (7-3) look an awful lot alike heading into a 7:30 p.m. Friday night matchup at Wheeling Island Stadium. The winner gets the survivor of No. 4 Point Pleasant and No. 13 Logan, next week.

''Wheeling Park has the experience factor and we have to go up to the island,'' South Charleston coach Donnie Mays said. ''It's an exciting game and a game that I would look forward to as a fan.

''There will be a lot of skill on both sides.''

It starts with the quarterbacks, Wheeling Park senior Zach Phillips, and sophomore Kentre Grier of South Charleston. Phillips has completed 88 of 141 (62 percent) for 1,531 yards and 18 touchdowns, against a pair of interceptions.

''That kid throws about as good of pass as anyone I have seen,'' Mays raved.

On the other side, Grier, whose dad started two years at QB for West Virginia State in the 1990s, is 133 of 222 (59 percent) for 1,969 yards and 25 touchdowns, against five picks. He's also run for 451 yards and six scores.

''They have a ton of speed and it's not just one player,'' Daugherty said. ''We have to contain the quarterback.

''We also have to control the line of scrimmage. If we don't, we'll be done in Round 1.''

Containing Grier will be the job of Park defensive ends Chalmer Moffett (66 tackles, 10 sacks) and Tommy Ricker (53 tackles, seven sacks).

A.D. Cunningham (147 carries, 987 yards, 10 touchdowns) is the Eagles' leading rusher. On the other side is Park sophomore Savion Johnson (155-1,101-14).

Eric Banks is Phillips' favorite target, having caught 38 passes for 699 yards and seven scores. For the Eagles, Kevin Forrest, a first team all-stater last season, has 42 catches for 771 yards and 10 scores.

''Kevin is the MVP of our team. Without him we're probably 5-5,'' Mays said. ''He's one of the kids that got to play with the Tyler Harris group.

''He primarily played special teams then.''

The Patriots cannot sleep on fellow SC wideouts Fred Crozier (38-44-6td) and Marquel Hampton (24-269-5).

Perhaps the two players that scare Mays the most are Park linebackers Geremy Paige, one of the top candidates for the Huff Award (108 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two recovered) and Theo Blackston (55 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery).

''I have not seen a tandem as good as theirs in triple-A this year,'' Mays said. ''Defensively they want to make sure they stop the run and our goal is to get the run game going at any cost.

''On the interior, they are probably like Capital because they are very good against the run.''

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