Road to Wheeling Starts This Week

When the West Virginia football playoffs begin this week, seven OVAC squads will take the field with hopes of ending up on Wheeling Island Stadium on Dec. 1.

The first weekend was unkind to the Ohio contingent with St. Clairsville and Steubenville the only teams to make it out of the first round.

The best chance to get a local state champion comes in Class A where three local teams have a shot to walk away with the championship.

When you are talking about Class A, the conversation always begins – and usually ends – with Wheeling Central.

The Maroon Knights are looking to defend their state championship, but will do so as a No. 10 seed following a 7-3 season.

Coach Mike Young’s crew is no stranger to the big dance so going on the road won’t be too big of a deal. Wheeling Central gets things started Saturday at No. 7 East Hardy (9-1).

While you can never count out Wheeling Central, the team many consider the favorite to win is Magnolia. The Blue Eagles begin their inaugural season in Class A on Friday at Alumni Field.

Coach Mark Batton’s club is the No. 2 seed and will play every game in New Martinsville until either it is eliminated or reaches the title game.

The Blue Eagles may be one of the top seeds and new to the division, but their first foray into this tournament will be greeted by a familiar foe.

Williamstown (6-4) makes the short trek in a rematch of their Week 2 showdown. Following a season-opening loss to Linsly, Magnolia defeated Williamstown, 24-7, the following week and haven’t lost since, closing the season on a nine-game winning streak.

Should Magnolia and Wheeling Central both win, they will face each other in the second round.

One team that could be waiting for the Blue Eagles or the Maroon Knights at Wheeling Island Stadium is Weirton Madonna.

The Blue Dons are the No. 4 seed and will play host to Tug Valley (8-2) on Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

Like Magnolia, Weirton Madonna is one of the hottest teams in the field, winning eight straight since a Week 2 loss against Wheeling Central in a rainstorm.

Coach Doug Taylor’s squad showed how ready it was last Friday with a 40-2 thumping of previously unbeaten Clay-Battelle. The Cee-Bees are the No. 8 seed and will play Valley Fayette at University High.

Wheeling Park is back in the playoffs for the second straight season and face another long road trip, this time to Spring Valley (7-3).

Coach Chris Daugherty’s Patriots (7-3) are the No. 9 seed and have won five of their last six games.

The winner of this game will likely face top seed and undefeated Cabell Midland, who eliminated Wheeling Park in the first round last season.

OVAC members Morgantown (No. 5 vs. Point Pleasant) and University (No. 6 vs. Lewis County) are also in the field.

Milestone Moment

  • Chinelo Oparanozie, Linsly: Cadets tailback rushed 26 times for 130 yards Saturday against Kiski to become the school’s single-season leader in rushing yards. The Ohio Valley’s Small School leading rusher finished his season with 1,583 yards, passing the mark of 1,392 set by Tony Walls in 2004.

Ground Gainers

  • Bryce Ingram, Wheeling Park: Patriots tailback has been tough to bring down recently and Friday was no different, rushing for 124 yards and a touchdown against Hedgesville.
  • Ross Comis, Eliott Nero, Nick Ossman, Weirton Madonna: Blue Dons’ three-headed backfield was unstoppable against Clay-Battelle. Comis led the way with 152 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Nero (110, td) and Ossman (106, td).
  • Drew Keller, Magnolia: Blue Eagles back scored four times on the ground, averaging 8.6 yards per carry and totalling 152 yards against Oak Glen.

Aerial Attack

  • Jeremiah Fromhart, John Marshall: Monarchs quarterback passed for 226 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Parkersburg South.
  • Matt Kinnick, St. Clairsville: Red Devils QB was 11 of 14 for 291 yards and four scores in playoff victory against Buckeye 8 foe Harrison Central.
  • Jesse Padlow, Bishop Donahue: Bishops signalcaller threw for 223 yards and a touchdown in loss to Tyler Consolidated.
  • Tanner Hanna, Magnolia: Senior quarterback completed 13 passes for 152 yards and touchdowns to Gage Deem and Ryan Walton.
  • Cody Caldwell, River: Pilots QB threw for 118 yards in playoff loss to Danville.
  • Alex Young, Indian Creek: Redskins senior threw for 134 yards and a touchdown in playoff setback to West Holmes.
  • Spencer Badia, Bellaire: Badia threw for 265 yards to pass the 3,000-yard mark for the season, but the Big Reds were eliminated by Cuyahoga Heights.

Good Hands Team

  • Evan Magers, John Marshall: Monarchs wideout hauled in seven passes for 167 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.
  • Dan Monteroso, St. Clairsville: Boston College recruit caught five passes for 183 yards and two scores against the Huskies.
  • Nick Patrone, Bellaire: Big Reds standout had seven catches for 134 yards, putting him at 1,009 yards on the season.

Mr. Everything

  • Michael Ferns, St. Clairsville: Red Devils standout made eight tackles, one for loss, while also scoring two touchdowns Friday at Red Devil Stadium.
  • Lavonte Hampton, Bishop Donahue: Bishops receiver had seven catches for 118 yards against the Silver Knights. On defense, he made 10 tackles. He also scored rushing touchdown and returned a punt 36 yards for a score.

Wrecking Crew

  • Dom Ellis, Linsly: Defensive stalwart continued to wreak havoc, recording 15 tackles in the season finale.
  • Geremy Paige, Chalmer Moffett, Wheeling Park: Paige paced the Patriots defense with 15 tackles, while Moffett had 10 against the Eagles. Both also recorded a sack.
  • Luke Smith, St. Clairsville: Red Devils defender had 10 tackles, two for loss.
  • Matt Vucelik, Jordan Bonar, Bishop Donahue: Vucelik led the Bishops defense with 16 tackles, while Bonar made 10 stops.
  • Kage Rohde, Magnolia: Blue Eagles bruiser made 15 tackles, one for loss, and a sack against the Golden Bears.
  • Jonathan Stewart, J.D. Dotson, Bryce Cross, River: Stewart led all tacklers with 14 and two forced fumbles, Dotson had nine tackles with a sack and a forced fumble, and Cross had 11 tackles with an interception.