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Timberwolves turn to ball hawks in secondary

November 27, 2018

SPRING VALLEY — Spring Valley High School’s football team is known for its massive and talented offensive line, speedy skill players, stout defensive front and strong-armed quarterbacks, but the secondary is, well, secondary to those units in gathering praise.

The Timberwolves’ pass defenders, though, have played well all season, especially so Friday when they intercepted Capital quarterback Kerry Martin Jr., four times. Safety David Livingston and linebacker Isaac Howard, who dropped into coverage, each picked off two passes thrown by Martin, a West Virginia University commitment and one of the premier players in the state.

“They’re good,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said of the team’s secondary. “They’re a good group of kids. They don’t get the credit they deserve. People talk about us and we have speed. We were the faster football team out there. We got out there and it was a fun game to watch.”

Defensive backs Livingston, Parker Elmore, Tyson Hall, Graeson Malashevich and Zane Porter figure to be mightily tested by Martinsburg’s efficient passing attack when the teams meet at noon Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium for the Class AAA high school state championship. The No. 2 seed Timberwolves (13-0) and top-seeded Bulldogs (13-0) are meeting for the state title for the third consecutive season. Martinsburg won the last two.

The Bulldogs feature quarterback David Harman (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), a dangerous player passing and running. Harman expertly operates Martinsburg’s offense, which relies heavily on the quarterback getting rid of the ball in three seconds or less. Such quick passes make a defensive lineman’s or linebackers’ job of pressuring Harman difficult. The style also gives defensive backs little time to recover when a receiver makes a cut before catching the ball.

Harman has thrown for 1,300 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 750 yards and 14 TDs. Harman takes most of the team’s snaps, but Eli Banks also shares time under center, having thrown for 861 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Malashevich said he understands the task Spring Valley faces, but added that he likes the Timberwolves defensive backs.

“Our defensive backs have been so good,” Malashevich said. “Tyson is a great cornerback and so is Zane at the other corner. It’s a tough group. David Livingston has stepped up huge this year.”

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