Best of the Best: Week 3

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Two weeks down, nine weeks to go in the 2017 West Virginia high school football season. As we do every week, let’s take a look at five games to watch coming up this week in the Mountain State Athletic Conference and the Cardinal Conference. All games are on Friday unless noted.

1. Hurricane at Cabell Midland

Cabell Midland High, Ona
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Hurricane used an upset win in Putnam County last season against Cabell Midland to help propel itself to a Class AAA playoff appearance. This year, the Knights will have revenge on their minds but Hurricane is no slouch. The Redskins are 2-0 with wins against county rival Winfield and on the road at a strong Paintsville (Kentucky) team. New quarterback Nathan Roy, a St. Albans transfer, seems to be settling in — as does South Charleston transfer receiver Curon Cordon. The Redskins are as dangerous on offense as they have been in a while. Cabell Midland, on the other hand, is Cabell Midland. The Knights don’t do much that is flashy, but they are good at what they do. Midland has a deep bench of lineman and running backs and coach Luke Salmons will throw them all at you. These two school districts butt up against each other at the Cabell-Putnam county line and historically they do not get along. This could be another classic in this series.

2. Huntington at George Washington

Edwards Field, Charleston
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Huntington is 2-0 with wins against Kentucky 3A powerhouse Belfry and last season’s West Virginia Class AAA runner-up Spring Valley. No team in the state has a more impressive resume through the first two weeks of 2017. The Highlanders defense returned to form last week, holding Spring Valley to zero points. On the opposite sideline Friday, George Washington will be a team in search of a marquee win. The Patriots looked far from a finished product in a season-opening loss at South Charleston, then last week GW bounced back with a late defensive stand to hold off pesky Paul Blazer on the road in Ashland, Kentucky. Either Huntington continues to roll or GW steps up its game and makes this a good one. As with every game on “The Hill” you should get there early if you plan to go because traffic and parking are awful at GW for football games.

3. Riverside at Ripley

Memorial Stadium, Ripley
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Riverside comes into this game licking its wounds a bit after a 44-14 loss at Capital last week. Ripley, on the other hand, rides into this  one on a wave of momentum following convincing wins against Parkersburg South (28-12) and Buckhannon-Upshur (35-7). If Riverside wants to snap its long playoff drought, this is a game the Warriors will need. Same goes for Ripley. Life as a “have not” in the MSAC is tough, so you have to get your wins when you can. Ripley appears to be much improved this season, but that MSAC schedule ramps up the difficulty rating in the coming weeks — after a trip to St. Albans next week the Vikings play at George Washington, home against Huntington and South Charleston, then visit Spring Valley in consecutive weeks. Ripley lost this game 7-3 last season in Quincy, so revenge could be a factor.

4. Mingo Central at Logan

Logan Stadium, Logan (note: the Google Maps photo shows its age. Logan has since installed turf)
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Mingo Central flexed its muscle last week and easily dispatched Wayne, while Logan took a loss to visiting Sissonville. The Wildcats were without sophomore quarterback David Early, among others, due to a suspension he was forced to serve from being ejected the week before against Man. The Miners haven’t shown any signs of rust or of a championship hangover so far in 2017. Logan, meanwhile, could make a statement in the Cardinal Conference with a win here against the defending conference and Class AA state champions.

5. Winfield at Chapmanville

Chapmanville Stadium, Chapmanville
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Both of these teams came into the season with high expectations, but a little bit of the shine came off this matchup when Chapmanville quarterback Adam Vance went down with a season-ending knee injury in the Cardinal Conference scrimmages. Still, these are two good teams. The Tigers bounced back from a Week 1 loss at Sissonville with a win at Poca last week. Winfield also bounced back from a Week 1 loss, walloping Herbert Hoover 49-3 last Friday. Winfield might have a slight edge here, but it’s never easy to go win in Logan County. This could end up being a very entertaining game.

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