BUCKHANNON – Let’s do an episode of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of high school football this week.
This is an easy one. Watching Bryson Johnson streak down the Buckhannon-Upshur sideline with a 100-yard — not 99 — interception return to secure the first the win for new Buccaneer head coach Zach Davis last Friday night. Watching Philip Barbour march down the field in the final minutes of the game, I got this worst case fear of impending doom. It’s just how things go sometimes as a Buccaneer fan. But with the overthrow and the interception return, it was a feel-good moment for everyone involved. The play garnered a lot of attention statewide for the Bucs, which is a good thing for a team looking to rebuild its credibility around the state.
I don’t want to dwell too much on this because at the end of the day, high school football is a bunch of 15-18-year kids playing a game they love. But things at coach Davis’s old stomping grounds, Nitro, aren’t going so well this year. Nitro was blanked by Herbert Hoover 48-0 last Friday and has been outscored by a 82-10 margin in an 0-3 start. Hard to believe it’s been 23 years since JR House and Chris Martin won the 1998 state title with a win over Morgantown for Nitro.
Postponements. Buckhannon-Upshur has already had to endure one. Last week there were 13 cancellations of statewide high school football games and this week there are at least nine games that won’t be played. When is this ever going to end? You are tired of it, I am tired of it, and the world seems tired of it.
Before we get to this week’s games, last week both Brian Bergstrom and I went 4-1 as we both misfired on the Oregon-Ohio State clash. The Buckeyes had better learn how to play some defense soon. But on to this week’s games.
Buckhannon-Upshur (1-1) at Greenbrier East (2-1) — As I said, last Friday was a special night for Buccaneer football. The big question is, how do the Bucs capitalize on that momentum? The Bucs got that first win, but now they need to go out and get that signature win. I think the Bucs pull off the upset tonight in Lewisburg. My pick: Buckhannon-Upshur, 28-27; Brian’s pick: Buckhannon-Upshur, 21-20.
Fairmont Senior (2-1) at Bridgeport (2-0) — Fairmont Senior may have one of the toughest schedules of any Class AA team with the likes of Linsly, University, Wheeling Park, Spring Valley and Robert C. Byrd on it. After a thrilling 20-14 home win over North Marion last week, the Polar Bears have to visit Bridgeport tonight. Not many people go into Bridgeport and come out with a win and I don’t think the Polar Bears have enough fire power to do it this week. My pick: Bridgeport, 28-24; Brian’s pick: Bridgeport 35-31.
West Virginia Wesleyan (0-2) at Concord (0-1) — The bad news for Wesleyan is that the MEC declared they had to forfeit their canceled game with UNC-Pembroke last week so they enter the game with a 0-2 record. The good news is, Wesleyan removed the interim tag from Dwayne Martin’s title, so he is officially the new head coach of the program and it’s well-deserved. To get the win, the ‘Cats are going to have to slow down the quarterback/receiver combo of Jack Mangel and Jarod Bowie. Last week against Glenville State, Mangel became the first MEC quarterback to throw for 400 yards and Bowie caught 15 passes for 204 yards. My pick: Concord, 31-21; Brian’s pick: Concord, 35-33.
East Carolina (0-2) at Marshall (2-0) – Remember when ECU used to be sort of decent? They haven’t had a winning season since 2014 when they went 8-5. Marshall wins this one easily. My pick: Marshall, 34-10; Brian’s pick: Marshall: 24-17.
Virginia Tech (2-0) at WVU (1-1) – West Virginia has some serious issues on their offensive line. With Virginia Tech this week and Oklahoma next week, a 1-3 start is looming. Head coach Neal Brown isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but you wonder if his seat will be a little warmer after a loss to the Hokies. Hey, I hope the Mountaineers get the win, but I just don’t see it happening. My pick: Va. Tech, 31-13; Brian’s pick: WVU, 28-24.