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Wolves to visit Bulldogs

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

SPRING VALLEY -- The walk from the football field to the locker room is difficult at Spring Valley High School. It's a steep, winding uphill climb on an asphalt path.

Add a devastating defeat and that walk becomes even more difficult for the Timberwolves. Just ask offensive tackle Alex Locklear.

"We were all disappointed coming up the hill Friday night. We knew the situation," Locklear said Monday after a morning workout and weightlifting session.

Hurricane scored with three minutes left to spoil Spring Valley's Senior Night, 20-17, and drastically alter the team's Class AAA playoff plans.

When the final WVSSAC ratings came out Sunday, the Timberwolves (6-4) checked in at No. 15 and that means a 350-plus mile trip to Martinsburg for a first-round game against the No. 2 Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The hosts (9-1) are seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive state championship.

Had Spring Valley won, the Timberwolves would have had a first-round date against No. 4 Point Pleasant.

"We've got to move on. We can't dwell on the past," Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said.

"We know we'll be the underdogs," said Locklear, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound junior. "The second half of the season, we made progress, we got better. We'll be loose and ready. We'll give it our best game."

Martinsburg has become the class of Class AAA. The Bulldogs haven't lost a game to an in-state opponent since South Charleston beat them in the quarterfinals of the playoffs in 2009. Martinsburg's first four games in 2013 were against out-of-state opposition. The Bulldogs went 3-1, losing to Tuscarora High (Leesburg, Va.), 35-34.

Once in West Virginia, the Bulldogs edged Morgantown, 28-21, then blew past the five remaining opponents. They beat No. 10 Washington (34-0), Spring Mills (57-0), Hedgesville (76-0), Jefferson (54-13) and Musselman (48-12). That's a 297 points for them, 25 for the opponents.

On offense, Martinsburg's catalyst is quarterback Malique Watkins. He rushed for 292 yards and a TD and passed for 92 yards and four scores in the finale against Musselman.

Prior to the Hurricane game, Spring Valley lost at home to No. 7 Cabell Midland, 21-14.

"We've had two tough games," Dingess said. "We're banged up a little. We're excited to see how we match up against the best in the state."

Spring Valley is in the playoffs for the 11th time since the school opened in 1998 (a consolidation of Buffalo, Vinson and Ceredo-Kenova). The Timberwolves had suffered nine straight first-round playoff exits until 2012 when they beat Wheeling Park. Cabell Midland beat them in the next round.

The Timberwolves are a run-oriented squad. Dylan Lageman leads the Timberwolves in rushing with 476 yards. Quarterback Tyler Brown has thrown for 702 yards and six TDs. Bryer Brewer is the top receiver with 14 catches for 202 yards. On defense, Lageman is No. 1 in tackles from his linebacker position.

Since 2001, Martinsburg has been to the state finals seven times at Wheeling Island Stadium, losing in its first four appearances. The Bulldogs and Charleston High (1968-70) are the only schools to win three straight AAA crowns since that division began in 1958.