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Midland gets its rematch

Nov. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

ONA -- During the 2012 season, there was only one blemish on Cabell Midland's football season -- that being a 38-14 loss to Martinsburg in the Class AAA championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Once again, both teams have dreams of that December date in Wheeling, but only one will see their dreams extend through the weekend.

That's because this year's meeting between the teams is a quarterfinal bout, which takes place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Martinsburg's Cobourn Field.

For the Cabell Midland Knights, this is their shot at some unfinished business.

"Those guys are excited to move on and get another chance at Martinsburg," Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said. "They're a good team and we think we're pretty good, too. It ought to make for a good game."

Finishing that business would mean doing something that no other West Virginia team has done since 2009.

That is, beat the Bulldogs.

Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, there has only been one team in the state defeat Martinsburg -- that being South Charleston during the Black Eagles' championship years of 2008 and 2009.

The Bulldogs feature one of the state's top players in Malique Watkins, who has rushed for 1,608 yards, including a 204-yard effort that included a 94-yard touchdown run in last week's 36-0 win over Spring Valley.

However, the team is not one-dimensional.

Martinsburg (10-1) also features running backs Deamonte Lindsay (936 yards) and Eric Brown (806 yards) to complement the Bulldogs' ground game.

Last week, Cabell Midland's defense put in one of its best performances of the season, limiting Washington to 168 total yards and 17 total yards rushing in a 35-6 win. Washington also fell 34-0 to Martinsburg earlier in the year.

While the defense hit its stride, Cabell Midland's offense achieved a rare feat at the high school level last week.

Donte Hendricks finished with 140 yards, including a 96-yard touchdown run while Teran Barnitz had 103 yards and two third-quarter scores. Those numbers put both players over the 1,000-yard plateau, joining them with Kasey Thomas, who reached it earlier.

That's three running backs with 1,000 yards each -- Thomas (1,243), Barnitz (1,024) and Hendricks (1,006). Alex Childers also has 678 yards for the Knights' ground-and-pound attack.

"That's pretty special," Salmons said. "In all my years as a coach, I've never had that happen. Those guys run hard and they have a great line blocking up front. It always starts up there."

One factor that could definitely come into play for both schools is penalties.

Cabell Midland (9-2) has been hit with an average of 100 yards in penalties each week, but was able to keep the flags down against Washington. Doing so is critical this week to keep the Knights' offense in system and avoid long third-down plays where the team is forced into a passing set.

Staying in system and avoiding the big-play capabilities of Watkins are a necessity if the Knights are to take care of their unfinished business.

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