PARKERSBURG-Give a coach a choice and he will take it.
That is the case during the semifinal round of the WVSSAC's W.Va. State High School football playoffs as both No. 3 George Washington (Class AAA) and No. 3 Bridgeport (Class AA) elected to play their games at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (Black Friday).
Due to the holiday weekend the state's controlling organization for high school sports added another time slot-1:30 p.m. Friday-to its traditional offerings of 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"I don't know why," Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons said when asked why coaches elected to play in the middle of the afternoon on the day following Thanksgiving. "Truthfully, I believe you can out-think yourself. You start thinking that playing at an odd time like that will result in fewer fans of the home team being able to attend the game.
"The thing is, if you can win, you can win anywhere."
Coaches from the other four visiting programs elected the more traditional times of 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. No. 5 Morgantown (Class AAA) will play No. 1 Cabell Midland and No. 4 Robert C. Byrd (Class AA) will travel to No. 1 Wayne on Friday night while both games in Class A will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
W.Va. High School
No. 1 Cabell Midland 28, No. 8 Spring Valley 26
No. 5 Morgantown 35, No. 4 Huntington 14
No. 2 Martinsburg 50, No. 10 Musselman 7
No. 3 George Washington 41, No. 11 Lewis County 14
No. 5 Morgantown (10-2) at No. 1 Cabell Midland (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 3 George Washington (10-2) at No. 2 Martinsburg (11-1), 1:30 p.m. Friday
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 12 noon, Saturday, Dec. 1
No. 1 Wayne 47, No. 9 Nicholas County 0
No. 4 Robert C. Byrd 34, No. 5 Bluefield 20
No. 3 Bridgeport 28, No. 6 Frankfort 0
No. 2 Keyser 53, No. 7 Scott 8
No. 4 Robert C. Byrd (11-1) at No. 1 Wayne (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 3 Bridgeport (9-2) at No. 2 Keyser (11-1), 1:30 p.m. Friday
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30
No. 4 Madonna 29, No. 4 St. Marys 14
No. 1 Tucker County 48, No. 8 Clay-Battelle 14
No. 2 Magnolia 19, No. 7 East Hardy 14
No. 3 Wahama 21, No. 6 Greenbrier East 12
No. 4 Madonna (11-1) at No. 1 Tucker County (12-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 3 Wahama (12-0) at No. 2 Magnolia (11-1), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 7 p.m. Saturday
After eliminating No. 6 Greenbrier West (21-12), which dropped down from Class AA after last year's football season, No. 3 Wahama (12-0) will take on another former Class AA power, Magnolia (11-1), at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Magnolia High School.
"I'm certain we couldn't be competitive with Wayne," quipped White Falcons' head coach Ed Cromley. "I'm sure the smaller double-A's got frustrated about their situation in that classification and are now feeling relieved that they don't have to face a team like them (Wayne) in the playoffs anymore."
Magnolia, which took home the top prize in Class AA two years ago, advanced to the round-of-four with a 19-14 win over No. 7 East Hardy-the team that knocked out defending champion Wheeling Central with a 60-34 decision in the opening round.
"We've never talked (to the kids) about it (moving to Class A)," Magnolia head coach Mark Batton said. "We've just went about our business. Our schedule changed, but not a whole lot. We just understood that if we took care of ourselves, everything else would work its way out."
Also electing to play at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday is No. 4 Madonna-a 29-14 winner over No. 5 St. Marys. The Blue Dons (11-1), who won the Class A title in 2009, will travel to Hambleton to face top-seeded, and unbeaten (12-0) Tucker County-a 48-14 winner over No. 8 Clay-Battelle.
Can anybody beat No. 1 Wayne?
That was the question posed to veteran Pioneers' head coach Tom Harmon who needed only one word to answer the query-"Wayne".
"No, just kidding," added Harmon. "You don't really know. Each week you've got a new opponent and a new set of problems. The only thing you have complete control of is how you play."
This weekend's opponent for the unbeaten and defending state champion Pioneers (12-0) is No. 4 Robert C. Byrd. The Eagles of head coach Bruce Carey, the former head coach at Bridgeport, eliminated No. 5 Bluefield by a 34-20 score to up their record to 11-1.
The other half of the bracket has Carey's former team, No. 3 Bridgeport (9-2), heading back to No. 2 Keyser in hopes of reversing the Indians' 25-0 regular season setback to the Golden Tornado (11-1).
Like Magnolia in Class A, RCB and Bridgeport are making the most of their move down from Class AAA.
"It's always nice to be playing Thanksgiving weekend no matter what class you are competing in," said Carey. "But, just because we aren't playing the Martinsburgs and GWs of the world doesn't mean that we have an easier path to Wheeling."
A year ago, No. 3 George Washington met No. 2 Martinsburg in the Class AAA final at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Bulldogs held off a late rally by their Kanawha County rivals en route to capturing their second championship in a row by a 35-27 margin.
This year the two big school powers meet to decide who will advance to the championship game on Saturday, Dec. 1.
"We know them and they know us," said Martinsburg head coach David Walker. "We are looking for the same kind of hard fought game we played against them last year in Wheeling."
Only this time the contest will be played at Coburn Field-the home of the Bulldogs.
The other half of the bracket sends No. 5 Morgantown (10-2), which won Class AAA titles in 2000, '02, '04 and '05, to No. 1 Cabell Midland. The Knights (12-0) advanced to the semifinal round by surviving a rematch with No. 8 Spring Valley (28-20).
"It was what we expected it to be," said Salmons, won won the Hunt Award while playing at Ravenswood. "And, we expect the same kind of game when Morgantown comes to town."
The coaches and administrators of the six winning teams from this weekend's will meet at 10 a.m. Sunday at the WVSSAC office on W.Va. 47.