ONA - Coach Luke Salmons' description of Spring Valley's football team nearly duplicates that of his own.
Salmons used terms and phrases such as "Big. Physical. Strong. Well coached. Good team. Tough. They play hard."
The Knights (2-0) visit the Timberwolves (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a showdown of Class AAA heavyweights. It is a battle of teams that physically maul opponents, use pounding running games and feature FBS-caliber players.
Salmons said his team knows it faces a challenge in the three-time state runners-up, but added that his players and staff like going against such stout competition.
"We've worked our tails off," Salmons said. "We've been practicing two-and-a-half hours really hard and no one complains. We realize that we can't just enjoy getting better. We have to get good. To do that, we push the kids a little bit harder. This is a big game and we want to be ready to play. It's exciting to have two good teams playing. It's good for football in the Tri-State to have a game like this."
Cabell Midland features an array of first-year starters, most of whom have experience as reserves.
Senior J.J. Roberts, who committed to Wake Forest, and sophomore Chandler Schmidt have performed well at quarterback in a 56-13 victory over St. Albans and a 55-16 triumph over Parkersburg.
"They're different, but they've gotten better and better," J.J. has four touchdowns and Chandler has thrown the ball well. They've both worked really hard."
Both have the luxury of handing off to bullish junior fullback Jakob Caudill, who runs behind a rebuilt, but strong, offensive line. The Knights' running game will be tested by the Timberwolves, who held Hurricane to 16 yards rushing and 89 passing last week.
"We have one starting offensive lineman back and one defensive lineman with experience," Salmons said. "We won't make excuses, though, because we expect them to step up. Our backfield is new. That they've performed so well is a testament to how hard they kids work. This is a good group, very, very tough and scrappy, and they play together well and don't back down."