Spring Valley earns first-ever playoff win
HUNTINGTON — Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess decided to dance with the ones that brought him Friday night. In Dingess’ case, it was Elijah Wellman and Ryan George.
The duo accounted for nearly 60 percent of their team’s offense in Spring Valley’s 31-7 victory against Wheeling Park at the Wolves Den at Spring Valley High School.
It was the first playoff victory in 10 tries for Spring Valley, which will travel down the road next Friday night to face top-seeded Cabell Midland in a West Virginia Class AAA quarterfinal.
“This is the biggest victory we’ve ever had here,” a happy Dingess said in the middle of a group of well-wishers on the field. “We finally got that monkey off our backs. I can’t say how happy I am for these kids and this program.”
The Timberwolves (8-3) amassed all of there yards on the ground, rushing 48 times for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
Wellman led the way with 160 yards on 26 carries, while George had 113 yards and two scores on 13.
“That wore them down, I think,” Dingess said. “But, added to that, I think or offensive line played exceptional. Coach (Frank) Arthur did a great job.”
Spring Valley’s penchant for running the ball — quarterback Tyler Brown was 0-for-3 passing — along with five turnovers were too much for the Patriots (7-4) to overcome.
“We had a lot of chances to go ahead or tie it,” Park coach Chris Daugherty said. “Every game seems to be decided on blocking, tackling and turnovers.
“For the most part we blocked and tackled within reason. It was just turnovers. They all came at bad times. There’s never a good time to have one, but it just seemed like we’d drive the length of the field, get to where we wanted to be and then turn it over.”
The Patriots also struggled in the red zone, going 1 for 4 with a fumble and a blocked field goal.
“It’s hard to dig out of those things,” Daugherty said.
Things started badly for the Patriots when they turned the ball over on the opening kickoff with a fumble that set up the hosts at the Park 38. But the defense held.
Midway through the first quarter, Park drove to the Spring Valley 1. Quarterback Zach Phillips threw incomplete on second and third downs. On fourth down, Liam Casey’s 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
The Timberwolves took over at the Park 20 and proceeded to drive 11 plays, capped by Wellman’s 1-yard touchdown run. The first of two Sam Brody PAT’s made the score 7-0. Wellman carried the ball nine times — including the final four plays — on the march for 47 yards.
“That team’s pretty good,” Daugherty said. “They have three 300-pound linemen and a fullback that has a full ride to West Virginia University to be a fullback and he showed that (Friday).”
Following a short kickoff, the Patriots started at their own 40. Again, Park moved into Spring Valley territory. Highlighting the drive were two passes by Phillips, one to Eric Banks for 21 on the drive’s first play, and the other to Banks over the middle for 15. The drive stalled at the 2 when Josh Dent fumbled on fourth down.
“Stopping them there was huge,” Dingess said.
Three plays later, George burst up the middle for an 87-yard touchdown that helped make the score 14-0.
Following the first of three Phillips interceptions and the first of three by Cory Hughart, Brody capped the half with a 23-yard field goal that made the score 17-0.
On Park’s second possession of the third quarter, Hughart picked off another Phillips pass and returned it 29 yards for another touchdown that left the Patriots down 23-0.
Dent capped a successful Park drive late in the third with an 11-yard run. But from there Spring Valley’s efficient running attack produced another touchdown and then controlled the clock from there.
“We’re not really a throwing team,” Dingess said. “And when you have a big line that can control the clock and control the line that’s good for us.”
Banks paced Park offensively with six catches for 76 yards.
“The kids battled,” Daugherty said. “We just had too many costly turnovers. “I’m happy with the kids. We had a successful season and awe played the playoffs for the second straight year. We started with a young team and a lot of them are coming back next year.”
WHEELING PARK 0 0 7 0 — 7
SPRING VALLEY 0 17 6 8 — 31
SV — Wellman 1 run (Brody kick).
SV — George 87 run (Brody kick.
SV — Brody 23 FG.
SV — Hughart 29 interception return (kick failed).
WP — Dent 11 run (Casey kick).
SV — George 2 run (Wellman run).
Rushing — Wheeling Park, 29-92 (Blackston 3-3, Ingram 7-33, Dent 5-27, Phillips Paige 8-13, Myers 1-0). Spring Valley 48-290 (Wellman 26-160, George 13-113, Evans 2-1, Brown 6-15, Robertson 1-1).
Passing — Wheeling Park, Phillips 16-38-3, 197. Spring Valley, Brown 0-3-0.
Receiving — Wheeling Park, Banks 6-76, Pugh 3-48, Ingram 1-3, Dent 2-23, Angalich 2-16, Blackston 2-31. Spring Valley, none.
First Downs — Wheeling Park 16; Spring Valley 11.
Penalties — Wheeling Park 3-30; Spring Valley 2-10.
Fumbles/lost — Wheeling Park 2-2; Spring Valley 0-0.