ONA — Huntington High football players said the Sept. 10 game with Cabell Midland doesn’t mean much now, but to the Knights, the 21-17 loss is a thorn in the side they’re eager to try to expunge.
No. 5 seed Cabell Midland (11-1) visits the No. 1 Highlanders (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bob Sang Stadium in the Class AAA playoff semifinals. The winner moves on to Wheeling Island Stadium for a noon, Dec. 4, state title showdown with either No. 2 Martinsburg (11-1) or No. 3 Bridgeport (12-0).
Cabell Midland’s fans have dubbed the rematch “revenge week.” Some complained about the officiating in the first game, others are just happy to have another shot at Huntington High.
“It’s not really going to affect how we play, but it tore us down losing that game,” said Knights’ defensive back/running back Chandler Schmidt. “So, this game is a revenge game and we are a 100 percent different team from when we played them the first time. We are more ready than we have ever been.”
Cabell Midland was quite good the first time around. The Knights ran 67 plays to the Highlanders’ 25 and outgained Huntington High 399-185. Schmidt ran four times for 87 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson Fetty 46 times for 206 yards and Mason Moran six times for 73 yards.
Expect more of the same Friday. Fetty has run for 1,724 yards this season, Schmidt 1,047 and a school-record 29 touchdowns and Moran 1,008 yards. Quarterback Brad Wolfe has added 750 yards on the ground.
Knights coach Luke Salmons said his team’s approach never changes no matter the opponent nor circumstances.
“The kids are really excited,” Salmons said. “They’re different in the mindset that it’s not the playoffs, but they’re excited about playing football. They’re a close-knit group and they’re excited about the opportunity. They’re not happy with being in the playoffs or winning a game in the playoffs. They want to win them all.”
Cabell Midland offensive lineman Shawn Rouse said redemption is a strong motivator in this game.
“We are out for revenge and in our eyes Huntington is standing in the way of what we’ve worked for since February, the state championship. Yes, the first game with HHS does factor in my mind. It motivates not only me, but my teammates to be great and to dominate every play of the game on all aspects of the ball.”
Knights defensive back Dominic Schmidt said he expects Friday to be a great game and a dog fight. Schmidt said Cabell Midland will be ready to play and he figures Huntington High, too, will be well prepared.
“I think the first game factors in in that it made us much more determined and hungry to win this week,” Schmidt said. “I think everyone should be ready and we know what we’re coming to do.”
Salmons said he’s not surprised that his team is meeting Huntington High again.
“There’s some really good football right around here,” Salmons said. “They’re good an I respect them. We just kind of focus on us.”
Center/defensive tackle Nehemiah Roberts said the early season loss to the Highlanders sticks with him.
“I’m very excited for us to get a chance for revenge for earlier in this season,” Roberts said. “It being a rivalry will make it all the better.”