PADEN CITY - Having 17 players available for Friday's homecoming game with Cameron must seem like a luxury for Paden City football coach Brent Croasmun.
Do the addition and that's six more players than the Wildcats finished with in their 46-40 victory last week at Hundred.
"It was a crazy fourth quarter," said Croasmun in reference to Hundred's 28-point output in the final 12 minutes. "I've never finished with 11 players. I told my assistants with two minutes to go, I didn't know what to do.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Magnolia running back Kage Rohde is tackled by two Williamstown defenders in a game played in New Martinsville earlier this season.
"It was mindboggling to the point that I was afraid I would not have enough kids to finish the game."
Paden City led 38-6 at halftime, but several players - Drew Bidwell and Zach Heasley - had issues with cramping, Deven Price suffered a knee injury and Brandon Cross got dinged up which forced him to sit out several plays.
Hundred quarterback Christopher Varner also made life miserable for Paden City in the second half.
"We called him squirrel - he could run really fast," Croasmun said. "They would stop us and one play later that kid would run for a touchdown. We were so tired and worn down."
The Wildcats didn't secure the victory until Kennedy Cain intercepted a pass with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter and a couple of kneel downs by Heasley at quarterback.
"We have yet to play a game with a full team," Croasmun said. "Zach Heasley went out on the second series of the first game and we didn't get him back until the Gilmer County game (in Week 4)."
When Cameron (2-3) arrives for this week's game, Paden City (1-4) will have three players in uniform who were not listed on the opening day roster - juniors Kyle Postlewait (center/defensive end) and William Wilkinson (inside linebacker), and freshman Michael Wilcox (offensive lineman/defensive tackle).
"Wilcox is not very big, but he is aggressive," Croasmun said.
In the Rebels' 24-14 win over Doddridge County last Friday night in West Union, eight players who would have normally been in the starting lineup were suspended for violation of teams rules and Code of Conduct.
"It was a no-brainer for me," said second-year head coach Mike Dawson. "I really had no choice but to suspend the players."
Forced to change its entire offensive approach as well as dig deep into its three-deep depth chart, Ritchie County managed to pull out the victory over its border county rival.
"It says a lot about our coaching staff and our kids," continued Dawson. "We reached deep into our sophomore class, and they came up and did a good job. A lot of credit goes to my assistants on offense as they were able to install a wing-T offense in just two days of practice."
The Blue Eagles (4-1) travel to Woodsfield, Ohio, to play a Monroe Central (3-2) outfit which had its 25-game winning streak against Pioneer Valley Conference opponents snapped in a 27-0 loss last week at Fort Frye. The previous week, Caldwell nearly defeated the Seminoles on their home turf before losing 15-8.
"I know Monroe Central is battling some injuries and illnesses," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "But Monroe Central is Monroe Central, and it's a tradition-rich program. Coach Jay Circosta is a legend in the valley and puts together just a great program.
"Every Friday night against that team, irregardless of how we are playing or they are playing it's always challenging."
Head coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim's team already has three players who committed to Maryland and that includes 4-star Rivals lineman Derwin Gray. Yannick Ngakoue, who has interest from a slew of major Division I programs, is another 4-star recruit. Ngakoue, listed as a linebacker/fullback/tight end, has not committed, but West Virginia University is among his top college choices of interest.
Friendship's other two recruits for the Terrapins are 3-star linebacker/tight end Cavon Walker and 2-star linebacker/fullback Jermaine Carter.
Many eyes have been on Knight junior wideout/cornerback Jalen Tabor, who has offers from numerous programs including defending national champion Auburn.
Junior running back Jonathan Haden has offers from both Ohio State and North Carolina while junior free safety/athlete DaeJuan Funderburk has offers from Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
The Knights, who also have junior wideout Chigozie Onyekwere - has an offer from N.C. State - will bring a 3-0 mark into the contest.
Last year, the Raiders defeated the Vikings at County Stadium, but this fall second-year head coach Paul Burdette's squad will be on the road and it's also Ripley's homecoming.
The Raiders have won consecutive road games and coach Burdette knows the defense must continue to improve.
"Defense has definitely been a key for us," said Burdette, who noted a young group has been maturing nicely as the season is progressing. "When you are dealing with young guys you are going to deal with mistakes and we've had our share.
"We had a great defensive game versus Webster and Braxton County had 5 yards in the second half and no first downs. Our defense is playing really well and that's a big key for us. We have to play good defense."
Coach Burdette added that he didn't put much stock in Ripley's turnover-plagued 44-0 loss at Woodrow Wilson and figures the Vikings will be hitting on all cylinders.
"We're playing up a class. We realize that," Burdette added. "We've got to play our best ball Friday night."
News and Sentinel staff writers Jay W. Bennett and Jim Butta also contributed to this story