Open the lid on the treasure box that is the high school football playoffs in the Tri-State and you’ll find a dazzling array of interesting story lines.

The best matchup this week? The West Virginia Class AAA matchup featuring No. 10 Huntington High (5-5) at No. 7 George Washington (7-3) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Patriots play host to the Highlanders for the second time this season, having won 31-30 on Sept. 13.

Nearly as intriguing is the Kentucky Class 3A contest featuring Russell (9-2) at Ashland (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Putnam Stadium. The Tomcats won the regular-season game 21-14 in Flatwoods. The rematch has potential to be a classic.

Staying across the Big Sandy River, Raceland (7-4) at Paintsville (8-3) also has the makings of a memorable second-round game. The Rams and Tigers will play for the 14th time in the last seven seasons. Paintsville won seven of those games, including 19-15 on Oct. 25 this season.

In each of the last two seasons, Paintsville won the regular-season contest, only to lose to the Rams in the playoffs.

Back in West Virginia, No. 14 Hurricane (4-6) at No. 3 Spring Valley (9-1) might not appear to be much of a matchup in Class AAA, but the Redskins hung with the Timberwolves in a 28-7 loss in the regular season. Spring Valley is powerful and playing well, but Hurricane is not a team to be taken lightly.

Two Class A games are of particular interest.

No. 10 Wheeling Park (6-4) at No. 7 Tolsia (7-3) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday offers the intrigue of the defending state champion Knights playing the resurgent Rebels. Adding to the fun is the distance Wheeling Central must travel, as the matchup is almost like a team from western Pennsylvania traveling to eastern Kentucky.

No. 14 Moorefield (5-5) visits No. 3 Pendleton County (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a rematch of a Nov. 1 game which Moorefield won 35-0 to knock Pendleton County from the No. 1 spot in the ratings.

In Ohio, Ironton (10-1) and Amanda-Clearcreek (9-2) meet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Jackson in an interesting matchup of playoff regulars. Wheelersburg (8-3) will need a mammoth effort against West Lafayette Ridgewood (11-0) and its potent offense at 7 p.m. Saturday in Lancaster.

RECRUITING ROUNDUP: Spring Valley offensive lineman Wyatt Milum said his top five college choices are Alabama, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. ... Cabell Midland softball star Gracie Hightower committed to West Virginia Wesleyan College. … Gallia Academy running back James Armstrong visited Ohio University on Wednesday. …

Musselman safety Blake Hartman received an offer from the University of Pennsylvania and also visited Army. … Bluefield running back J.J. Davis decommitted from the University of Toledo. … Greenup County golfer Brett Bentley and Wheelersburg softball standout Brittani Wolf signed with Shawnee State University. … Lewis County (Kentucky) catcher Wyatt Yates committed to Kentucky Christian University. …

The University of Louisville extended a preferred walk-on offer to Raceland wide receiver Ethan Cox. … Cabell Midland football standout Jackson Oxley visited Furman University. ... West Carter girls basketball player Ragan Adkins committed to Midway University. … Cabell Midland football players Tierdin Berry, Hunter Church and Hayden Hass visited Wilmington University on Saturday. … Poca basketball star Isaac McKneely took an unofficial visit to the University of Pittsburgh on Saturday.

BROWN NOMINATED FOR AWARD: Former Spring Valley football star Tyler Brown, now a linebacker at Marshall University, was nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy last week.

The Trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former University of Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman. The Burlsworth Trophy is given to the most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

COACHES TOY DRIVE: High school baseball coaches in Lawrence County (Ohio) are teaming up on a toy drive for less fortunate kids in the area.

New, unwrapped toys for children age 14-younger may be turned in through Dec. 11. Contact your local high school coach or call Ironton St. Joe coach Greg Bryant at (740) 479-1713 for more information.

ROUNDING UP: Spring Valley’s volleyball team made the state tournament, which will be played Friday and Saturday in Charleston. The fourth-seeded Timberwolves takes on No. 6 seed Parkersburg in the first round at 8:30 a.m. Friday. … Chris Walls is the new baseball coach at Woodrow Wilson High School. Walls has coached at Fayetteville, Liberty-Raleigh, Oak Hill and Greater Beckley Christian. …

Former Wheelersburg basketball star Tanner Holden made a spectacular debut with Wright State University, scoring 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 96-77 victory over Central State. … Former Fairland girls basketball all-stater Emily Chapman scored a career-high 22 points for Cedarville University Friday in a 97-83 loss to Ashland University. … Former Huntington High star Jordyn Dawson scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in her women’s basketball debut with Akron in a game last week.

Poca running back Ethan Payne set West Virginia high school football season records for touchdowns (40) and points (264) Friday in a victory over Wayne. Payne eclipsed the marks set by Pineville’s Curt Warner in 1978. With the 32-0 victory, the Dots clinched their first undefeated season since 1978. … Spring Valley’s football team won the Mountain State Athletic Conference junior varsity championship.

Tim Stephens is a sports writer for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at or 304-526-2759.

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