Big Blacks prep to face No. 1 seed
HUNTINGTON — Saturday’s WVSSAC Class AA football quarterfinal playoff game between Point Pleasant and Fairmont Senior will feature two high-scoring, explosive offenses led by experienced quarterbacks who can take over a game.
Cason Payne will lead the No. 8 seed Big Blacks (9-1) into Fairmont’s East/West Stadium for a 1:30 Saturday kickoff against the No. 1 seed Polar Bears (11-0) led by senior quarterback Connor Neal.
Payne and Point Pleasant are coming off a 65-36 win over No. 9 seed Mingo Central in a game played at Point Pleasant. Payne, a senior, had to outduel Mingo Central quarterback Daylin Goad.
Unable to establish a running game against the Point Pleasant defense, Goad was forced to throw more passes and accumulated more yardage through the air than Payne, but Payne was effective through the air, keeping the Miners off balance with long and short passes both.
The Big Blacks also had little trouble on the ground. While Payne passed for 166 yards, Point Pleasant amassed 465 yards rushing, with Payne grinding out 265 yards of his own and six touchdowns.
When Payne watches Neal run the Polar Bears offense, it might seem a lot like looking in the mirror.
“I know they can run and throw,” Payne said of Fairmont Senior after Saturday’s game.
Neal will air it out too, but can use his legs either to gain yardage if his receivers are covered or run to buy himself time in the pocket. He can also roll out of the pocket and be effective throwing on the run.
Fairmont Senior has put up gaudy numbers on the scoreboard in running its record to 11-0. The Polar Bears defeated four eventual playoff teams, never allowing more than 20 points in a game.
Even No. 3 seed Bridgeport put up little challenge to Fairmont Senior, losing 45-14 in the regular season.
The Big Blacks, however, have more to offer than Payne. Running back Brady Adkins left in the game against Mingo Central in the first quarter, but returned and added an extra spark to Point Pleasant’s offense.
Offense won’t be the problem for Point Pleasant, but stopping the Polar Bears might be.
Class AA quarterfinals
POINT PLEASANT (9-1) at FAIRMONT SENIOR (11-0)
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday