Wayne opens defense of W.Va. Class AA title
WAYNE -- Entering the Class AA football playoffs, it seems the question isn't can anyone beat the Wayne Pioneers, but rather can anyone even get close?
Top-rated Wayne (10-0) hosts the No. 16 Clay County Panthers (5-5) in the first round Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Pioneers won the 2011 state title and haven't lost a game since Sept. 30, 2011, now riding a 19-game winning streak. This year, the Pioneers have run roughshod over the competition, averaging 53.5 points per game while giving up 13 on their way to a perfect season and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
"We're proud of the seed we were able to obtain, and the way we've played this year," head coach Tom Harmon said. "We couldn't ask for anything more over the past 10 weeks, but now that's marked down as experience."
Still, it's one thing to go undefeated, and another to do so without ever being tested.
Some thought the close game might come when Wayne traveled to then-No. 1 and undefeated Scott on Oct. 5. Wayne emerged from that contest with a 47-6 victory. Others thought the Pioneers might be put to the test in their final game of the season, when No. 4 Bluefield came calling.
Again it was not even close, as Wayne walked away with a 45-14 win.
So what does Harmon expect when the Panthers take the field against the Pioneers?
"(Clay County) is very excited to be in the playoffs," Harmon said. "At this point, everyone has the same record."
Harmon said there hasn't been any secret to his team's success. The Pioneers have made the most of scoring opportunities, haven't turned the ball over much and haven't made many mistakes.
They've also had an unstoppable back in Brandon Spurlock, who ran for 166 yards and five touchdowns in the season finale. Spurlock's stats are impressive, and indeed could have been off the charts if the second team wasn't in by halftime of almost every game.
"We've played very efficiently, and, when you can do that, you can put games away early," Harmon said. "But you have to remember that the very same things that put you in that situation can take you out of it.
"When it's playoff time, it doesn't take too many bad offensive or defensive series to get your butt beat."
So the mantra for the Pioneers is focus, and do the things that got them there.
"If you keep that as your goal, you're never really satisfied," Harmon said. "I'm not sure there's anything that's going to satisfy this group other than winning every game they play."