Team hopeful in Spring Valley vs. Martinsburg, Part III
SPRING VALLEY — Most teams likely wouldn’t be excited about a football game with a team that had beaten them 44-16 and 49-7, but Spring Valley High School is giddy.
The second-seeded Timberwolves (13-0) take on No. 1 Martinsburg (13-0) at noon Saturday for the Class AAA state championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.
On Friday afternoon, Spring Valley secured a spot in the Super Six when the No. 2 seed team thumped visiting Capital 56-14 in the Class AAA semifinals.
Will Adkins threw three touchdown passes and Graeson Malashevich accounted for three scores in different ways for the second straight week. Adkins found three different receivers for touchdowns and completed 9 of 14 passes for 144 yards. Owen Chafin ran 18 times for 140 yards, including a 46-yard scoring burst.
Just as important, the Wolves locked down on defense, forcing five turnovers from the No. 3 Cougars (11-2), intercepting Kerry Martin Jr. four times, with David Livingston returning one of the picks 67 yards for a TD. Capital managed just 190 total yards, including minus-6 on 15 rushing plays.
Spring Valley had to hold on in its regular-season game against Capital, taking a 21-13 win when it chewed up the final 7:13 by running behind its massive offensive line. But after an early 7-7 tie on Friday, the Wolves locked it up by scoring touchdowns on six straight full possessions between the second and third quarters.
Heading into Friday, Spring Valley is hoping the third time will not be the charm for Martinsburg. The Bulldogs have beat Spring Valley 49-7 in the 2016 championship game and rallied from a 16-14 deficit to win 44-16 in the 2017 title contest.
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.″
Timberwolves senior defensive end Cody Stanley said the team would have to “take it like we do every game” after his team’s 56-14 victory over Capital on Friday.
Respect dripped from every word each player and coach uttered regarding Martinsburg, winner of six of the last eight Class AAA state titles. Spring Valley head coach Brad Dingess guaranteed nothing other than his team’s effort.
“It is what it is,” Dingess said. “We’ll go up there and give it our best shot and hope the third time’s a charm. I’ll guarantee you we’ll go up there and play hard. That’s all I can say.”
Martinsburg won a state record 41st straight game Friday when it beat Musselman 42-14 in the other Class AAA semifinal. The win was No. 289 for Martinsburg head coach David Walker, making him the winningest coach in state history.
Timberwolves coach Will Adkins said his team will play not only for itself, but for the graduates of Buffalo, Ceredo-Kenova and Vinson high schools that consolidated in 1998 to form Spring Valley.
“They’re the defending champions and they’ve been rolling,” Adkins said of Martinsburg. “They’re one heck of a football team. It will be fun. It’s good for the community, with the tradition of C-K, Vinson and Buffalo, we have a lot to play for.”
The Class AAA championship will take place at noon on Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
WEST VIRGINIA SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Martinsburg 42, No. 4 Musselman 14
No. 3 Capital at No. 2 Spring Valley, 1:30 p.m. Friday
No. 12 Weir at No. 1 Fairmont Senior, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Bluefield 35, No. 3 Bridgeport 14
No. 1 Wheeling Central 47, No. 4 Doddridge County 7
No. 6 Williamstown 56, No. 2 Midland Trail 8