Let's hear it for the small schools.
Only three Mid-Ohio Valley high school football teams have qualified for the state semifinals and all three are in Class A -No. 2 Magnolia, No. 3 Wahama and No. 5 St. Marys.
We all knew when Magnolia dropped from Class AA to Class A there might well be a new sheriff in the small school class. When both of the division's perennial powers -Wheeling Central and Williamstown -struggled to qualify for the playoffs, the Blue Eagles assumed the role of favorite.
This weekend was supposed to witness the showdown between Magnolia and Wheeling Central. But it won't happen as East Hardy thumped the Maroon Knights. Now, it will be East Hardy at Magnolia on Saturday night in a quarterfinal matchup.
Mid-Ohio Valley fans who want to watch all three area teams play can do so, providing they are willing to travel. St. Marys will travel on Friday, making its way up W.Va. 2 to Weirton to take on No. 4 Madonna at the new Jimmy Carey Stadium, an artificial surface field. This is one of one of the best matchups in any class.
On Saturday afternoon, Wahama will meet Greenbrier West at Point Pleasant High School, which has become the traditional playoff home of the White Falcons. If both Wahama and Magnolia win this week, they will meet one another in next week's semifinal, thus assuring the Mid-Ohio Valley of having at least one participant in the Super Six.
Obviously, all three of our remaining teams have talent. Each also is blessed with dedicated coaches who provide the necessary leadership for the young men who make up the roster. It's a pleasure to talk to Magnolia's Mark Batton. Wahama's Ed Cromley and St. Marys' Jodi Mote. All are great representatives of their schools.
Although we never want to get in the business of handing out trophies before they are earned, Class A appears to be the most competitive of the three state titles that will be contested. Two-time defending Class AAA state champion Martinsburg appears to be on the verge of a three-peat, while defending Class AA champion Wayne also is a solid favorite to repeat its feat of last year.
As always, we witnessed several teams that really didn't belong in the playoffs, but qualified due to winning enough games against a weak schedule, the one flaw in our otherwise rock-solid playoff system. While several teams statewide literally scheduled themselves into the playoffs, Parkersburg South virtually scheduled itself out of the playoffs by playing Washington D. C. powerhouse Friendship Academy and Class A Linsly. South officials did their best to get a more balanced schedule, but their efforts proved fruitless. Thus, the Patriots easily were the best team in any class not to make the playoffs.
South owns a road win over Musselman, which is in the quarterfinals this week