Cougars, Wolves battle for dominance
HUNTINGTON — While November is still a ways off championship high school football will hit a fever-pitch Friday when the Spring Valley Timberwolves travel to Charleston to take on the Capital Cougars in a match of unbeaten, top-ranked teams in Class AAA.
Spring Valley, the defending Class AAA runner-up the past two seasons, can claim the role of underdog for the first time this year as they are currently rated second in the WVSSAC playoff rating system. The Timberwolves (5-0) have a rating of 13 which locks them in a tie with Huntington for the second spot.
Those two teams are just behind the top-ranked Capital Cougars whose rating is 13.6 with a 5-0 record of their own.
Each team also enters Friday’s
game with identical 4-0 Mountain State Athletic Conference records as well.
For Capital, the challenges in Friday’s contest will be finding the end zone against a Spring Valley defense that has not surrendered any more than 21 points in a single game this year and that was against George Washington in a 62-21 blowout a week ago.
Conversely, Spring Valley’s offense has not scored any fewer than 27 points in a win over Hurricane. Spring Valley’s average margin of victory in its five games is 32.4 points per game.
The Timberwolves attack with a strong set of skill players in Graeson Malashevich, Owen Chafin, Will Adkins and Isaac Howard.
Chafin is the team’s leading rusher with 545 yards on 67 carries for 8.1 yards per carry. He has also rushed for five touchdowns this year.
Malashevich and Howard lead the team in scoring with eight touchdowns each with Malashevich leading the team in receiving with 10 receptions for 387 yards ranking him second in the MSAC.
Adkins splits time at quarter-back with Nate Ellis but the former is the team’s leading passer having completed 10-of-16 attempts for 345 yards, six TDs and no interceptions. Additionally, the Timberwolves can throw a wildcat look at a defense with Malashevich taking snaps where then becomes a threat as a rusher.
Blocking for the skill players is one of the best offensive lines in West Virginia anchored by Doug Nester, the future Ohio State Buckeye.
Head coach Brad Dingess will be faced with stopping Capital’s talented lineup of Deshaun James and Kerry Martin who are two of the top 10 rushers in the MSAC this season. The duo have combined for 104 carries and 730 yards rushing with seven TDs.
Martin is a threat passing as well this season going 31-for-64 for 550 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. His passing yards are well behind MSAC leaders Grant Wells of George Washington and Jake Johnson of Parkersburg.
Dingess’ defense will be led by Nester plus fellow defensive linemen Cody Stanley, Cody Sharp, Tanner Ferguson and Wyatt Milum. Malashevich is also a presence in the Timberwolves defensive backfield.
Kickoff for the game will be 7:30 at University of Charleston Stadium.