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HHS racks up yardage with West Coast flair

Nov. 18, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- At times, Huntington High's offense features a Southern Cal football touch of old.

The Trojans made the toss sweep their signature play for years with the likes of O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, Charles White, Mike Garrett and Ricky Bell lined up at tailback. Former Southern Cal coach John McKay called it "student body left or right." The back takes a pitch, follows a wall of pulling blockers and cuts to daylight when it appears.

Huntington High does a pretty good imitation. Quarterback Clark Wilson gets the snap and turns to toss the ball to either Charles Crawford or Nick Tubbs who are speeding either left or right. The linemen carry out their assignments, the back gets to the numbers and then heads upfield. Usually for a hefty gain.

On the third play Saturday, Tubbs took a pitch going left, got behind the wall, found a lane and sprinted 84 yards for a touchdown. Lewis County knew what was coming, but didn't have contain on the corner and paid for it. The No. 1 Highlanders ran that play unofficially seven times and piled up 151 yards and three scores on the way to a 31-7 win over the No. 16 Minutemen in a first-round Class AAA quarterfinal playoff game at Bob Sang Stadium.

"That's a famous play," Tubbs said. "That's what we work on a lot. You get the pitch, get turned, let the hole open and turn up. I saw the daylight and was gone."

Crawford started a decisive 17-point run in the third period with a 29-yard TD run to the right on that play. Tubbs got the final TD of the period with a toss to the right as well.

"I like to sweep a lot," Crawford said. "You flow to the sideline, get to the numbers and go."

Up front, Nigale Cabell is provides the blocking from a tackle position.

"The line leads and the backs go to the crease," Cabell said. "We're just doing what we do best."

When defenses stack the box, Cabell and his mates up front have the answers.

"We have to be aggressive," he said. "If they push, we push harder. We've been doing it so long."

Highlanders coach Billy Seals likes getting Crawford and Tubbs on the corners. If teams flow too fast, Huntington High goes back inside with Paden Christian.

"We look for an advantage on the edge," Seals said. "That opens up the inside game."

McKay and the Trojans had similar responses. They ran the pitch until teams put enough players outside to contain it. Then they went to the blast (inside run). Two simple plays, big results then for USC and now Huntington High.

TIME TO CELEBRATE: Huntington High defensive end Arick Nicks reached another personal goal Saturday. He blocked a punt. The 6-foot-5 senior, who's blocked his share of shots in basketball, came up with the gem late in the third period and the Highlanders converted the break into points as Tubbs scores on a 6-yard run.

"There were only three (players) on the line," Nicks said. "I told Nigale (Cabell) I'm going to get it. I jumped, put my arms up and got it with my elbow. That was one of my main goals of the year. I wanted one. Now I can stop thinking about it."

HERE COMES GREG: Highlanders linebacker Greg May ran down Lewis County backs all afternoon. Seals said May got credit for 18 stops.

"My first half wasn't so good," said May, recalling the Highlanders led 14-7 at intermission. "I was really intense in the second half. When I got the chance, I blew threw the hole (vacated by the lineman) and would go find the football. We made some adjustments at halftime and showed we could stop them."

Seals said May's calling card is "Thumper." "Be physical, fill the gap," Seals said. "He's all you look for in a Sam linebacker."

BASKETBALL TIME: The Ohio Valley Conference preview for boys basketball is Nov. 22 at South Point High School. Each game consists of two quarters. Admission is $5. It's River Valley vs. Coal Grove at 6 p.m., Chesapeake vs. Rock Hill at 7 p.m. and South Point vs. Fairland at 8 p.m. All-OVC awards for fall sports will be presented between the second and third games.

The OVC girls preview was held Friday at South Point. River Valley met Coal Grove, Chesapeake met Rock Hill and South Point took on Fairland. All-OVC awards for fall sports were handed out between the second and third games.

BILLUPS EXITS: Reggie Billups coached his last game with Hurricane on Friday night. The defensive coordinator for the Redskins is retiring after coaching 37 years. Capital beat Hurricane in the first round of the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs at Laidley Field.

MEDIA DAY: Ironton High is having media day for winter sports on Monday the Conley Center. Coaches and players will be available for questions starting at 1 p.m.

TOUGH TO BEAT: Musselman beat Greenbrier East 3-0 on Saturday to win the Class AAA championship in the West Virginia High School Volleyball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum. The Applemen did not lose to an in-state opponent this season.

David Walsh is a member of The Herald-Dispatch sports department. Call him at 304-526-2730 or email dwalsh@heralddispatch.com.