WILLIAMSON – “There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success.”- Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The first round of the KHSAA playoffs are over and Belfry will advance. The first round of the WVSSAC playoffs will begin this Friday with both Mingo Central and Tug Valley having secured playoff spots. All of the previous hard work and dedication for all these teams will enter the coliseum of battle with war banners raised high. The Pirates are surging through the playoffs looking for another trip to Bowling Green, while the Miners and Panthers are entering the opening ceremony with bravado.
Belfry 50, Bath County 0
The Pirates not only set the running clock rule in place during the first half but they also shutout a team that made it into the Class-AAA playoffs which is a great accomplishment. Belfry is ready, they are hungry, and they are set on knocking off the upcoming opponents and progressing through the matches one by one.
The Pirates punched the advancement ticket last Friday night thanks to a superior performance from the defense, special teams, and team as a whole. Most predicted that the opening round match-up would go in favor of the Pirates but they not only survived; they thrived. Belfry’s smash-mouth approach will be put to the test again this post-season but Belfry appears ready for the challenge. Set ‘em’ up, and knock ‘em’ down.
Belfry will advance to host Fleming County this week. Fleming County defeated Lawrence County 29-22 in the opening round. The game to watch out for is No.1 Russell taking on neighboring Pike County Central this week because the winner of Russell and Pike Central will advance and if the Pirates defeat Fleming County they will face the winner of said game. If the Pirates face Russell in the third round they will lose home field advantage but that is a little bit in the future and Fleming County is the upcoming concern.
Mingo Central 48, Winfield 9
It’s not right to give one player the majority of the credit while it is the team that records a victory. With that being said Mingo Central quarterback Jeremy Dillon has been the Miners ace in the hole all year. Head Coach Yogi Kinder, and the entire community surrounding Mingo Central is ready to put all the chips in the middle of the table on this year’s team making it to the final showdown. Mingo Central has now recorded the first ever undefeated season in the school’s history; they have won the Cardinal Conference, and are heading into the playoffs secured as the No.2 seed. This is maybe the biggest winning hand the Miners have had and may ever have, if history has taught us anything.
Few teams throughout the state develop the type of program that rivals No.1 Bridgeport. Bridgeport is the reigning champion, and undisputed number one in Class-AA West Virginia football.
If there ever was a year that the spell could be broken it is this year. The Miners are solid all the way through. Kinder has commented throughout the season about the team needing to gain toughness, through experience he knows it will take a monster hit to rattle the defending Class-AA champs; Bridgeport.
Staying in the present, the Miners will have to advance through the playoffs and earn the right to face Bridgeport. Bridgeport will have to defend their title through all levels in order for this to happen. Most believe this will be the final showdown.
Dillon had seven touchdowns during the Miners latest win over Winfield. He had three passing touchdowns, and four rushing touchdowns; couple all of that together for 266-yards passing with 22 completions on 33 attempts and 149-yards rushing on 13 carries it makes for a big concern for the defending champs and all teams in between.
The Miners all-star offense can cast shade over the defense but that can play in the Miners favor. Once again the Miners held a good team with a good offense to just 105-yards of total offense. This has been the Miners recipe all season; the offense fills the seats and the defense pulls them to the edge.
Mingo’s one-two punch combination will be on display this Friday as the Miners welcome round one challenger (No.15) Liberty Harrison to Harless Stadium. If the Miners advance through the ranks they will be awarded home field advantage up until the final trip to Wheeling.
Tug Valley enters playoffs at No.13
The Panthers took the time last week to utilize the BYE week heading into the playoffs. The Panthers BYE was earned as they came back from a last second loss in the first game of the season, and a two game losing streak mid-season to win out and secure a playoff berth for the third straight year. The story in itself is an inspiring; Cinderella story that personifies the aspect that makes everyone loves the game of football.
The Panthers were faced with adversity and they didn’t stop until they had it whipped.
The game that made the difference was the final win over the class-AA Man Hillbillies. Man returned in week 11 to beat Van which gave the Panthers enough points to secure the No. 13 spot and pit them against rival Tolsia in the opening round.
Tolsia gave the Panthers their second loss of the season and began their two game losing streak that accumulated the pressure to win out. During the regular season loss to the Rebels the Panthers did not go down easy, and the game could have gone differently.
The Panthers dramatic finish could be finalized by the Rebels, who are the Class-AA state runner-up from last year, in the opening round. But, if the Rebels do win the Panthers will not make it easy. The Panthers have all the momentum at the moment and if they beat Tolsia in the opening round they will advance to play the winner of No.12 Pendelton County and No.5 Cameron in the second round of the WVSSAC Class-A playoffs. The Panthers will probably be playing on the road through as many rounds as they can make it.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)