How ‘bout them apples?
The No. 4 Applemen football team of Musselman High School was indeed impressive on Friday night in a Class AAA quarterfinal round playoff game against Eddie Smolder’s No. 5 Ripley Vikings.
The Eastern Panhandle school brought to an end a remarkable football season for the Vikings by capturing a 52-7 victory at Spring Mills High School’s Cardinal Stadium, located just on the outskirts of Martinsburg.
The loss stopped a 10-game winning streak for the Vikings. Ripley closes with a 10-2 record. The 10 wins tied a school record for victories with the 1989 undefeated team (the only one in school history), which finished 10-1, and the 2002 playoff team that also finished 10-2.
With the win, Musselman, 11-1, will get another crack at Berkeley County rival Martinsburg. The Applemen and No. 1 Bulldogs will collide Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. on the turf of Martinsburg’s Cobourn Field.
Martinsburg, 12-0, handed Musselman its lone loss of the season by a final of 70-0. Martinsburg, the two-time defending state champions of Class AAA, advanced once more to the semifinals with a 49-20 win over No. 9 Parkersburg.
The other Class AAA semifinal, also slated for Friday afternoon, will feature a rematch between No. 2 Spring Valley, 12-0, and No. 3 Capital, 11-1. The showdown takes place at The Wolves Den on the Spring Valley campus. SV won the regular season matchup, 20-13.
The Vikings and Applemen battled to a 0-0 tie in the first quarter Friday night in what was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. In the second quarter, Musselman got things going offensively and produced 24 points to take control of the game.
“They’re a good football team,” Smolder said. “They are big, fast and skilled.”
Musselman, coming off its first playoff win in six years with a 60-14 defeat of John Marshall in the opening round, broke the scoreless game when sophomore running back Blake Hartman, a sophomore, raced 37 yards for the game’s first TD. A missed two-point conversion left the game at 6-0 with 9:43 before halftime.
Fumbles would doom the Vikings throughout the game – four in all – and on Ripley’s ensuing offensive possession the Vikings coughed it up in their own territory. Musselman took advantage and scored on Hartman’s 5-yard run. Hartman ran it in for two points to make it a 14-0 count at the 6:51 mark.
A Hartman TD run from 1-yard away and a Luke Barger extra point gave Musselman a 21-0 advantage with 2:43 to go in the second. Barger added a 34-yard field goal with a single second showing on the clock to give Musselman that 24-0 halftime lead.
“In big games you just can’t make mistakes,” Smolder said.
Any chance of a possible Viking miracle comeback was dashed quickly when Martinsburg added another TD in the opening minute of the second half when quarterback Tre Beard hit tight end Ethan Wilson for a pass that would turn into a 62-yard touchdown. Barger’s kick was good to make it a 31-0 Musselman lead.
Beard and Kaegen Teets hooked up on a 12-yard TD play and Barger’s kick moved the score to 38-0 with 6:05 showing on the third quarter clock.
Ripley avoided the shutout when quarterback Cyrus Casto hit Camron Ramsey on an 81-yard pass play. Davisson Flint’s extra point left the score at 38-7 at the 4:15 mark.
A Beard 42-yard pass play to Wilson at the 3:05 mark and a TD fumble recovery by Chris Rinehart on the last play of the third made it a 52-7, which turned out to be the final.
Musselman rolled up 478 yards of total offense to Ripley’s 169. The Applemen threw for 290 and rushed for 188. Ripley had 151 through the air but negative yardage on occasions led to just 18 total team rushing yards.
Casto was 5-of-13 in the passing game for 151 and the TD.
Ramsey had two catches for 86 yards. Jameson Shaffer had a 41-yard reception while Dawson Anderson caught a pass for 13 and Noah Westfall one for 11.
R.J. Evans picked up 29 yards on the ground for Ripley with 12 carries. Dalton Myers carried three times for 10 yards and Jeremy Harper had nine yards on six carries
Beard was 16-of-20 for 290 and three scores to lead the Applemen offense.
Wilson caught three passes for 157 yards. Hartman snagged seven for 51. Colin Newlin caught three for 31. Teets had two for 27 and Oldham one for 24.
Sebastian Oldham carried 10 times for 70 yards. Hartman carried nine times for 65. Beard rushed the football nine times for 59.
The Viking defense was led by Josh Kay’s 10.5 tackles. Other contributors were Dalton Myers (6.5), Caydan Keeler (6), Jake Lawrence (4.5), Casto (3), Evan King (3), Ramsey (3), Andrew Dolin (2), Chris DeFrank (2), Evans (1), Matt Moore (1), Westfall (1), Griffin Craddock (1) and Austin Rhodes (1).
Flint punted five times for 170 yards (34 yard average).
King had three kickoff returns for 48 yards. Luke Miller had one for 12.
“We had a great season and have a lot to be proud of,” said Smolder. “It didn’t end the way we wanted, but in the end only team at this stage is going to win its last game of the season. And that will be the team who wins the championship.
“We appreciate our 15 seniors. They did a lot for this program. We will get back to work. There’s a lot we can build off of by making the playoffs and playing two extra games.”