Wolves think this might be their year
HUNTINGTON — Martinsburg and Spring Valley are meeting for the third consecutive year in the Class AAA football state championship game.
The game is noon Saturday in Wheeling Island Stadium.
No. 1 Martinsburg (13-0) defeated the No. 2 Timberwolves (13-0) for state titles in 2017 (44-16) and 2016 (49-7).
Spring Valley led last year’s game at halftime and the Wolves feel as though they have their best chance yet to claim the program’s first state title.
Graeson Malashevich, the Wolves’ senior running back-receiver and Kennedy Award candidate, thinks the lessons learned from the first two excursions to Wheeling will help this time.
“I think in the first one, we were excited to be there,″ he said, “and we were a little shell-shocked. We walked in the locker room and all our stuff was sitting out and everybody was taking pictures and stuff. I just don’t think we were mentally prepared for it, and now we’ve got a bunch of guys who have been there before. I think we’ve got some unfinished business to take care of.
“Last year, they were a great football team and we weren’t real versatile on offense. We had to pound it inside and it was working in the first half. ... So this year I think we’re going to be a little more versatile, and on defense I think we’ll be able to stop them a little bit better.″
Doug Nester, Spring Valley’s all-state lineman and Ohio State University commitment, also likes his team’s chances for its third attempt at knocking off Martinsburg, the two-time defending champ that has won a state-record 41 straight games.
“Playing them a third time in a row, we know what they like to do a little bit,″ Nester said. “I don’t know the game plan yet, so we’re just going to have to watch some film and see what we can do against them.
“We’ve got to keep it on them, for sure. We went to halftime last year and I think we laid off them a little bit, thinking, ‘All right, we have this.’ This time, we have to come out the whole time - offensively, defensively, any way we can. We’ve just got to stay on the gas.″No. 1 Fairmont Senior (13-0) and No. 2 Bluefield (12-1) play in the Class AA finals at 7 p.m. Friday for the second straight year. Bluefield won the last two matchups.
Class A No. 1 Wheeling Central (12-1) defends the state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday against No. 6 Williamstown (11-2).