Week 1 is in the books, let’s turn our focus to some of the big games coming up this week in the MSAC and Cardinal Conference.
1. Spring Valley at Huntington
Bob Sang Stadium, Huntington – Friday
Last year’s MSAC champ and Class AAA state runner-up visits my current No. 2 team in Class AAA. These are two big-boy programs with blue-chippers all over the field. If you’re on the fence about what game to go to this weekend (and don’t mind a little, or a lot, of rain) make the trip to Huntington on Friday. With apologies to the Wheeling Park-Bridgeport game, this is the best game in the state this week, possibly this season.
2. Wayne at Mingo Central
Harless Stadium, Red Jacket – Friday
Mingo Central is fresh off a last-second, Hail Mary win at Point Pleasant last week, while Wayne pulled away late from rival Tolsia for a lopsided win against the Rebels. Mingo is the top dog in the Cardinal Conference, but the Pioneers occupied that spot for a long time prior to the Miners’ rise. It’s been a tough couple of seasons for Wayne. The Pioneers might not quite be back where they once were, but a win at Mingo Central on Friday would go a long way in that rebuilding process.
3. Cabell Midland at South Charleston
South Charleston High, South Charleston – Friday
Cabell Midland lost to Cincinnati’s Anderson last week, while South Charleston snuck out of its opener with a 13-12 win against rival George Washington. Midland did Midland things in Week 1, pounding the ball on the ground. SC, meanwhile, never seemed to get its offense in gear against GW. The Black Eagles were saved by a stout defensive effort, especially in the second half, and a late 74-yard touchdown run by quarterback Trae Murphy. On paper this looks like a mismatch in Midland’s favor, but a win by SC here and the Black Eagles are right in the thick of the MSAC race.
4. Nitro at St. Albans
Crawford Field, St. Albans – Friday
Two teams with a lot to prove and anytime a trophy is on the line you have my attention. Nitro’s offense looked as good as it has in several seasons in the Wildcats’ 32-13 win last week against Poca, and a chance to open the season 2-0 with two wins against your most serious rivals should serve as motivation for Bryce Casto’s bunch. St. Albans wilted in the second half last week at Parkersburg. The Red Dragons were down 15-0 at the break before a final of 49-10. Freshman quarterback R.T. Alexander gives the Red Dragons a reason to believe the future is bright, but it might take him some time to settle in. Still, SA has owned Nitro in recent years. This one could go either way. No matter how well these teams are doing, this game is always a fun one.
5. Riverside at Capital
University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston – Friday
Capital has dominated this series in recent seasons, outscoring Riverside 150-12 in the last three games combined (including 90-0 the last two seasons). This is not the same Riverside team though, and the Warriors should put up more of a fight this time around. Riverside walloped visiting Woodrow Wilson last week with big games from quarterback Mark Scites, receiver Blake Wentz and the running back tandem of Caden Easterling and Gage Hannah. Capital took its lumps last week at Kentucky power Johnson Central with a 31-20 loss, but the Cougars looked much, much better than they did a year ago at JC. Capital might just have too much firepower for the Warriors in this one, but if Riverside can drag the Cougars down in the muck and turn it into its kind of game there might be an upset brewing at UC Stadium on Friday.