AAA playoffs: Highlanders to show new look to familiar foe
HUNTINGTON - Huntington High’s football team doesn’t need Siri, Google Maps or any GPS device for directions.
For the Highlanders, the road map they need is scrawled on a whiteboard inside head coach Billy Seals’ office in the locker room behind Bob Sang Field and shows the path needed to salvage a 2018 football season that at one point was getting away from them.
After defeating 10th-seeded archrival Cabell Midland 14-7 in its first-round game, the next stop on the map for No. 7 Huntington High (8-3) is a 7:30 p.m. Friday matchup against No. 2 Spring Valley (11-0) in a Class AAA quarterfinal matchup at the Wolves Den.
After starting the year 6-0 and reaching No. 2 in the state ratings, the Highlanders dropped three of their final four regular-season games, to Capital, Cabell Midland and Spring Valley.
“We didn’t get the regular-season results that we hoped for when the season started,” running back and defensive end Bryce Damous said. “This is kind of like our revenge tour.”
The Highlanders have marked every game, from top-seeded Martinsburg’s first-round win to their own.
“I’m ready to play right now,” said tight end, fullback and linebacker Brocton Blair. “It’s exciting.”
Blair and Damous along with Diallo Mitchell were the key players in a Huntington High offense that returned to basics in the win over Cabell Midland. Seals and his coaching staff installed the flexbone formation into Huntington High’s game plan; it uses three backs on offense but is “fullback-based,” Blair said.
Blair had 16 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s win over Cabell Midland. Those were his first carries of the season.
Mitchell was right behind him with 10 carries for 73 yards and a 39-yard touchdown run. Damous added 43 yards to the offensive output on nine carries.
″(The flexbone formation) allowed us to keep moving the ball down the field and let us eat up the clock,” Damous said. “Coaches told us to run the ball forward and don’t fall back behind the chains.”
Seals said Friday’s game against the Timberwolves will mark the return of Ty Wilcoxon, who missed the entire month of October because of a broken ankle. The games missed included action in each of the contests Huntington High wound up losing.
“We know each other very well. Since last year this will be our fourth meeting,” said Seals, whose squad lost the last two meetings with the Timberwolves. “We’re excited about still playing football this time of year.”
A Huntington High win over Spring Valley would move the Highlanders into the semifinals possibly against Capital should the Cougars defeat Hedgesville in another quarterfinal being played Saturday at Laidley Field in Charleston.
Consecutive wins against Cabell Midland, Spring Valley and Capital would complete the “revenge tour,” and it would also mean the Highlanders will earn a spot in the state championship game - and will be in need of a road map to Wheeling.
Class AAA football quarterfinal:
No. 7 Huntington (8-3) at No. 2 Spring Valley (11-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
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