COLUMNS

On the Mark: Jackson County rivals in football playoffs; MOV Sports Hall of Fame: Column

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers
Mark Martin

PLAYOFF CENTRAL: The West Virginia High School Football Playoffs move into the quarterfinal stage Friday, Nov. 19, as The Road to Wheeling rolls on.

There are still 24 teams standing (eight in each of the three classes) who are trying to reach Wheeling Island Stadium and play for a championship.

One team that remains alive in the hunt for a title is Roane County. The Raiders defeated both the Ravenswood Red Devils and Ripley Vikings this season.

Roane County, the No. 10-seed of Class AA, will hit the road again Friday, Nov. 19, for a faceoff with No. 2 Independence.

Roane County captured a road victory last week in Summersville against the Nicholas County Grizzlies. The Raiders upended the No. 7 Grizzlies, guided by Ravenswood native Gene Morris, in a hard-fought, 18-15 contest.

The win was just the second-ever in the postseason for the Raider program.

Roane County garnered a school-record ninth win by downing NC.

One of the assistants for head coach Paul Burdette is former Ravenswood standout Matthew Peery, who was a player on the last Red Devil playoff team of 2014.

Roane isn’t all that’s left in the playoff field when it comes to Ravenswood opponents.

Doddridge County, Ritchie County and Williamstown all secured victories in the opening round.

Doddridge, the No. 2-seed, took down Midland Trail in its opener and will now go against No. 7 James Monroe.

Ritchie, the fourth-seed, handled Clay-Battelle in the first round and now stays at home for a meeting with No. 5 Mt. View, who defeated Sherman, another Ravenswood opponent from this past season, in the opening round.

No. 6 Williamstown, meanwhile, goes on the road to take on No. 3 East Hardy. Williamstown had its way with Greenbrier East in round one.

Not only were Doddridge, Ritchie and Williamstown opponents of Ravenswood this season but the three are fellow Little Kanawha Conference members.

NO. 1 DOESN’T RULE: Not one, but two top-seeded teams went down in the opening round.

Gilmer County handed Class A No. 1 Cameron a setback to earn the right to join its Little Kanawha Conference brethren in the quarterfinal round.

The Titans are now tasked with another foe from the Northern Panhandle in perennial power Wheeling Central.

In addition to Cameron falling and its perfect season coming to an end, Herbert Hoover, who was 10-0, lost to Fairmont Sr. in a Class AA opener at University of Charleston Stadium/Laidley Field.

After preventing Fairmont Senior from getting across the goal line on fourth down, Herbert Hoover took over offensively late in a 28-28 game. Fairmont brought pressure and sacked Hoover quarterback Dane Hatfield in the end zone for the winning safety.

It was indeed déjà vu all over again for Hoover.

This season marked just the second time Hoover had ever gone undefeated. And just like the 1977 team (which beat both Ravenswood and Ripley during the regular season) the Huskies were stopped in the opening round by Fairmont Senior when the program was Class AAA.

Huntington High is the lone No. 1 to survive the opening round action. The undefeated Highlanders took care of defending state champion South Charleston in their opener and will now meet another team from the Kanawha Valley in George Washington.

The Patriots defeated Greenbrier East in the first round on the road.

East was a team that defeated Ripley during the regular season.

RIPLEY FOES: Other than Roane County, all of Ripley’s opponents who reached the playoffs have been sidelined.

Point Pleasant, the No. 3-seed of Class AA, was beaten by Bluefield and No. 15-seed Shady Spring lost to Independence.

Ripley met those four playoff teams in the final five weeks of the season.

KNIGHT TIME: Another AAA team to advance was Huntington rival Cabell Midland.

The Knights, who are guided by one-time Ravenswood standout Luke Salmons, will play at University Friday, Nov. 19. The Knights, the No. 5-seed are 10-1, while University comes in at 11-0.

Eddie Smolder, a former Viking football star and Ripley head coach, is a Midland assistant.

As the lower seeded team, Midland got to choose the time and day. Salmons said his kids love playing on Friday nights so it was an easy decision.

Other choices could have been 1:30 or 7:30 Saturday.

The Class AAA title game will be played Saturday, Dec. 4, at noon on the Island. 

The AA championship is Friday night, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. and the Class A game is Saturday evening at 7.

MOV HOF AT LONG LAST: Finally.

That’s probably what the Class of 2020 for the prestigious Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame is saying.

With no banquet in June of 2020, the 10-member class will finally be inducted this Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Grand Pointe Conference and Reception Center in Vienna.

Three members of this class hail from Jackson County.

— James Abshire, a former Ripley Viking football star who elevated his game to All-American status at West Virginia State, where he still owns the single-season tackling record, is one of the inductees.

— Another is one-time Ripley basketball great Chase Fischer.

Fischer led the state in scoring in both his junior and senior seasons of 2010 and 2011. The school’s all-time scoring leader was twice named Class AAA First Team All-State.

He won the Evans Award as the state’s top player in 2011.

After high school, Fischer played college basketball at both Wake Forest and Brigham Young. His two seasons at BYU were filled with many outstanding games, including a 41-point outing and a 30-point performance on ESPN. Fischer also played professionally overseas.

— Current Ravenswood mayor Josh Miller is another member of the Class of 2020. Miller excelled in baseball, football and basketball at Ravenswood High.

He earned Class AA First Team All-State honors in both baseball and football as a Red Devil.

He was captain of the 2003 Class AA All-State team.

He is still the school’s all-time leading receiver in football.

After high school, he started four years on the diamond for the late legendary coach Cal Bailey at West Virginia State University.

Miller made two All-America teams as a senior in 2007. In addition, he was named the West Virginia Conference’s Player of the Year and Hitter of the Year.

After college, Miller spent two seasons in professional baseball.

The banquet begins at 6 p.m.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame consists of five West Virginia counties and two in Ohio. Jackson, Wood, Wirt, Pleasants and Ritchie are the one from West Virginia while Washington and Noble make up the Ohio portion.

The MOV HOF recognizes past excellence by players, coaches, administrators, officials, media members and those making contributions to athletics in other ways from the seven counties.