HUNTINGTON — Rebounding from a loss to Cabell Midland with a 44-13 win at Parkersburg put Huntington High in position to host a first-round playoff game when the high school football postseason begins next Friday.
The win moved Huntington to 5-4 on the season and pushed it to No. 8 in the WVSSAC Class AAA playoff ratings with 8.67 points.
The top 16 teams in the state make the playoff field with the first eight hosting a first-round game.
The challenge for the Highlanders, though, will be hanging on to that spot when it entertains Class AAA No. 3 Spring Valley at 7:30 Friday at Bob Sang Stadium. The contest will be the final regular-season game for both teams.
Highlanders head coach Billy Seals said Huntington isn’t concerned with playoff seeding, who it might play or where it might play. It’s focus is Spring Valley, he said.
“It’s the most important game because its the next game,” Seals said. “It’s a rivalry game, we understand that, but wherever the chips fall is what we’ll deal with. We’re just concerned about Friday.”
Seals said that attitude is prevalent among the Huntington players, calling them “pretty even keel” despite playing against players they have known and played against most of their lives.
The seniors on Huntington’s team realize they could possibly be playing their final home game Friday if they are unable to knock off the Timberwolves. Huntington has lost three straight games to its Wayne County rival but its last win over the Timberwolves was at Bob Sang Stadium in 2017.
“It’s my last regular season game,” said senior quarterback Ta’Jhan Blackwell. “Hopefully, it’s not my last home game.”
Fellow senior running back and linebacker Brocton Blair said senior night will bring a lot of emotions for him and his classmates. That being said, those emotions will play into Huntington’s hands.
“We’ll be flying high and the emotions will be running,” said Blair, who is one of the Mountain State Athletic Conference’s top rushers this season. “Spring Valley has always been bigger and they have a lot of threats on offense but we can be more physical with them on defense this year.”
Huntington’s play against Parkersburg showed the Highlanders haven’t quit on this season and the win on the road against the Big Reds locked HHS into the playoffs. The Highlanders did so with seven turnovers against the Big Reds including an interception by Blair.
“We have to stay relaxed,” Blackwell said. “We have to take care of the ball. I fell like we are all ready.”
Seals said Spring Valley’s defense is the best his team will have seen this year but overall the Timberwolves style of play is similar to what the Highlanders saw in the loss to Cabell Midland.