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CURRENT STORIES


Playoff Previews- Elkins, UHS do it again

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

PARKERSBURG -- Seven area teams gained berths in the high school playoffs. Two know each other well.

Class AAA No. 10 University (7-3) will visit NCAC rival No. 7 Elkins (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

Other teams from North Central West Virginia making the playoff field includes Class AAA No. 16 Robert C. Byrd (7-3), Class A No. 6 Notre Dame (9-1), Class AA No. 14 Bridgeport (7-3), Class A No. 14 Doddridge County (8-2) and Class AAA No. 2 Morgantown (9-1).

Elkins comes into the game with an eight-game winning streak. That includes consecutive victories over Robert C. Byrd (28-21) and University (17-14). The Tigers last playoff appearance game in 1992.

"I think kids would usually want to play someone they don't know, but in our case it's a motivator," University coach John Kelley said. "Elkins is the story of the year. I really think (Tigers coach Greg Hott) should be coach of the year in the whole state.

"People didn't believe in them, but they kept winning and winning. I've heard people say we'll kill this time. No we won't. This is a good team and it's going to be a very tough game."

University's crosstown rival, Morgantown, will take on No. 15 Spring Valley (6-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Mohigans are the defending state champions and are coached by John Bowers, who took over this season for Glen McNew. The Timberwolves have won three of their last four, including Friday's 27-17 win over Princeton to clinch a spot.

"The kids have really stepped up to the challenge. Really, the last four games have felt like the playoffs for us," Spring Valley coach Phil Ratliff said.

Robert C. Byrd was bumped to No. 16 after victories by Hampshire and Spring Valley. The Eagles face top-ranked Martinsburg (10-0) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in a game which features plenty of star power. Martinsburg quarterback Nate Sowers has thrown 38 touchdown passes this season, while receiver Brandon Barrett is the state's most highly recruited senior. He has narrowed his college choices to Ohio State and West Virginia.

"They're an all-around good team," Robert C. Byrd coach Bryan Fisher said. "Coach (Dave) Walker does a good job for them, and there's a lot more to that team than Brandon Barrett. It's going to be a good challenge."

Bridgeport is making its 11th consecutive appearance in the playoffs -- currently the longest run in the state. The Indians' 14-7 loss to Weir sent the team on the road for in the opening round for the first time since 1998.

The Indians will travel to No. 3 Frankfort (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"The last time we were on the road we won a big game against Ravenswood. Hopefully we'll get to win another one," Bridgeport coach Bruce Carey said.

Notre Dame ended a 17-year absence from the postseason under second-year coach Sam Alvaro. The Irish will host No. 11 Matewan (7-3) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hite Field -- the facilities first playoff game since Liberty hosted Clay County in 1999.

Also in Class A, Doddridge County will travel to No. 3 Wahama (10-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2000. The White Falcons came into last year's playoffs undefeated but were upset by South Harrison in the first round.

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com