WAYNE — The Mingo Central Miners and the Wayne Pioneers have annually been two of the top teams in Class AA football in West Virginia and the Cardinal Conference since Mingo Central opened its doors in 2011.
In that time, the two schools have made four appearances in the AA state championship game, bringing home three state titles and all but one Cardinal Conference crown. The Miners won the last two Cardinal Conference crowns while Tolsia won it in 2015 before dropping to Class A. Prior to that, the Cardinal Conference annually belonged to the Pioneers.
The teams will try to avoid starting the season 0-2 when they meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Field. Last week, the Miners lost 42-35 at home to Point Pleasant and Wayne got throttled at rival Spring Valley, 49-8.
“We’ve been preaching all week to our guys, this is a big game for our season,” Mingo Central head coach Josh Sammons said. “It’s turned into a good rivalry — our guys know Wayne wants to beat us real bad, and our guys want to beat Wayne real bad. We’ve been the top two dogs in the conference for the last six or seven years.
“It’s a game we look forward to every year. It’s always tough playing at Wayne; I told my guys you’re already behind 14-0 when you get to Wayne, so it’s definitely going to be a tough one. But we’re really looking forward to getting down there and competing.”