At 6-1 and ranked No. 12 in Class A, Notre Dame finds itself playing for postseason positioning. Despite a 2-6 record, South Harrison has put equal emphasis on the game.
The two face each other at 7:30 p.m. at Hite Field in a matchup of Harrison County's two Class A teams.
"We were young coming in and we knew there were going to be some growing pains, but the kids have played hard since the first week and they've gotten better," South Harrison coach Brad Jett said. "We've stayed positive with them. We feel like we've had a pretty tough schedule, but we're just going to go out and see what happens."
A year removed from advancing to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, South Harrison has labored through a young and what is now an injury-riddled lineup. Out is sophomore quarterback Mark Frum, but the Hawks have still made strides.
Last week they won at Valley Wetzel, preceded by close losses to Pocahontas County and Doddridge County.
"I don't think there will be anyone overlooking them," Irish coach Sam Alvaro said. "They're still going to come hard off the ball and hit you. And with that offense, it makes it tough to find the football."
Notre Dame hasn't defeated a Harrison County opponent since 1987. Jett said in order to keep it that way, his team must find a way to negate the Irish's team speed.
"They're well-coached," he said. "I think you have to take away from the perimeter with them. (Trey) Simmerman has nice speed and (Tyler) Musgrave has the ability to throw on the run."
In other area games:
n Bridgeport (6-2, 4-1) at Philip Barbour (0-7, 0-4): A victory by the No. 12 Indians wraps up a fourth consecutive Big 10 title. Bridgeport tailback Shawn Adkins needs just 23 yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and should benefit from a Colts defense that has allowed 238 yards rushing per game.
Philip Barbour allowed 21 unanswered points in a loss to Lewis County last week. The Colts are led by senior tailback Tony Skidmore (116-491).
The Colts last defeated Bridgeport in 1991.
n Lincoln (4-4) at Ritchie County (0-7): The Cougars kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 27-7 victory over Liberty last week.
Junior Andrew Perine turned in his third 200-yard rushing performance last week and leads the Big 10 with 1,245 yards. Tonight he'll face a Rebel defense which has given up 89 points in its last two games.
n Liberty (1-6) at Mount Hope (2-5): Since defeating Ritchie County three weeks ago, the Mountaineers have been plagued with turnovers, committing eight in losses to Grafton and Lincoln.
Quarterback Marcus Broadwater continues to be the one consistent in the Liberty offense. The sophomore has 695 yards of total offense, accounting for 51 percent of the Mountaineers 1,361 yards.
n Elkins (5-2) at Lewis County (2-6): The Tigers have only gotten stronger from what was then thought to be an upset of Robert C. Byrd. Since that victory, Elkins has climbed to No. 12 with victories over No. 10 University, Philip Barbour and Fairmont Senior.
The Minutemen broke a six-game losing streak last week in a win over Philip Barbour. The backfield duo of Alden Butcher (126-658) and Bobby Britton (65-366) lead a Lewis County offense which relies heavily on the run.
n Tyler Consolidated (6-2) at Grafton (3-4): The Bearcats face one of AA's hardest runners in Matt Wright, who is coming off a 214-yard performance in the Knights' 55-13 victory over Magnolia.
Kevin Efaw (120-857) will try to resuscitate a running game which was held to negative 3 yards last week against Bridgeport.
n Doddridge County (7-1) at Tucker County (4-3): The Bulldogs rebounding from a crushing defeat to Williamstown with last week's 34-6 win over Ritchie County. Tim Williams rushed for 153 yards for the Bulldogs.
The Mountain Lions have lost 3 of 4 since starting the season 3-0.
In games involving NCAC teams: John Marshall (1-6) vs. No. 3 Morgantown (7-1); Fairmont Senior (3-4) vs. Nicholas County (3-5); East Fairmont (3-5, 1-4) vs. Buckhannon-Upshur (2-5, 0-4) and No. 10 University (6-2, 4-1) vs. Preston (3-4, 1-3).
Other games in the area include: Braxton County (5-3) vs. Webster County (5-3); Clay-Battelle (4-4) vs. Tygarts Valley (0-8) and Pendleton County (7-0) vs. East Hardy (2-5).
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org