TENNENERTON – The stakes will be high when the Buckhannon-Upshur football Buccaneers and the Lewis County Minutemen meet Friday night at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
First off, when the two teams meet, it is for “The Battle for the Miner’s Pick,” which went to Lewis County last year in a 35-34 overtime win over the Bucs.
And more importantly for Buckhannon-Upshur, with two straight losses to Morgantown and University in the last two weeks, they have put themselves into a must win situation in their final four games if they hope for a playoff bid this season.
The Bucs are ranked No. 22 in Class AAA with a 2-4 record.
Lewis County (3-2) is looking to strengthen their current playoff spot of No. 12 in Class AA and maybe even a home playoff game in round one.
“We try to take each game one game at a time, but there is no doubt that Lewis County is a big game for us, the school and the community,” said Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis. “The preparation will stay the same but there is a little more juice in practice about playing Lewis County, and I am sure they feel the same way about playing us.”
Lewis County enters the game off the momentum of an impressive 41-34 home win over Lincoln last Friday.
“Lewis County had a nice win last week,” noted Davis. “They simply do a good job at doing what they do. They have some impressive players on the line. All three of their backs have been playing varsity since they were sophomores. I think it will be a good physical battle.”
Davis said his team understands there is no more margin of error if they are to reach the playoffs.
“We are down to a four-game season and the team knows that,” remarked Davis. “It is easier though to just focus on what is ahead of us and that is Lewis County. We are keeping ourselves in the present moment. We have played a very tough schedule. You look at the teams have beaten us. Morgantown has one loss, Philip Barbour is unbeaten (interview occurred before their loss Thursday night), Bridgeport has one. Not many teams in this region are playing that type of schedule. We have been through the fires so to speak, and we are ready for these final four games.”
The Bucs are coming off a 42-14 loss at home to University, but the Bucs played better than the final score indicated.
“I think we played well for us,” stated Davis. “University is just better than us at the moment. I thought we played as well as we possibly could have. A couple of turnovers didn’t help us, but our guys played hard and kept ourselves in the game for a while.”
One benefit of the University contest is freshman quarterback Brody McDaniels now has a varsity game under his belt going forward with previous starting quarterback Dawson Tenney out for the season with an ankle injury.
In his first start at the varsity level, McDaniels completed 12 of his 24 passes for 132 yards.
“Brody getting that Friday night experience is a big deal,” commented Davis. “I thought he handled the game well. He didn’t surprise us because we know what he can do in practice.”
Davis said the keys to victory remain the same every week as they are against Lewis County.
“We definitely need to win the turnover battle, and that is something we really haven’t done much of this season,” concluded Davis. “We need to win the rushing battle. We do that and I think we will like where we are standing at the end of the game.”