MASON-When the new classifications were released by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, long time Class AA members Greenbrier West and Magnolia were among those schools that dropped down to Class A.
Little did veteran Wahama head coach Ed Cromley realize that his White Falcons would have to go through both schools en route to earning a return trip to Wheeling Island Stadium and the Class A championship game.
No. 3 Wahama (12-0) will travel to New Martinsville to take on No. 2 Magnolia (11-1) at 1:30 p.m. today.
"I'm certain of one thing," said Cromley laughing. "I don't believe we would be competitive against Wayne."
The White Falcons overcame a slow start in eliminating Greenbrier West last weekend by a 21-12 margin. Senior quarterback Trenton Gibbs rushed for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns-the first coming on a 46-yard scamper in the first quarter-to lead Wahama to its 12th victory of the season.
"All week long we told Trenton that he was our fourth option in our running game," said the coach. "He is a good runner and he adds a whole new dimension to our offense when he does run."
W.Va. High School Football Playoffs
No. 1 Tucker County 27, No. 16 Moorefield 14
No. 8 Clay-Battelle 33, No. 9 Valley (F) 28
No. 4 Madonna 58, No. 13 Tug Valley 12
No. 5 St. Marys 40, No. 12 Wirt County 14
No. 2 Magnolia 34, No. 15 Williamstown 7
No. 7 East Hardy 60, No. 10 Wheeling Central 34
No. 3 Wahama 38, No. 14 Buffalo 0
No. 6 Greenbrier West 48, No. 11 Meadow Bridge 6
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. today
No. 3 Wahama (12-0) at No. 2 Magnolia (11-1), 1:30 p.m. today
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
A dimension the White Falcons will need when they take on a Magnolia defense that has recorded 30 sacks-12 by Kyle Ritz and 10 by Kage Rohde.
"They are tremendously fast. And that use that speed very well."
A strategy employed by Greenbrier West.
"We had to switch some people around at the half (on the line). And we told our kids that there may be only a crease, but that they were going to have to cut up into it and get as much as they could."
And the move worked as Wahama's rushing game finished with nearly 200 yards and controlled the clock for much of the second half.
"We are going to have to do some of the same things against them (Magnolia). We have got to play tough on the line of scrimmage. And our running backs are going to have to pound the ball up there and get what they can get."
Cromley has a pair or running backs capable of accomplishing that feat in junior Kane Roush and senior Zack Wamsley. The duo combined for more than 2,600 yards on the ground this season with Roush finishing with 1,546 yards and 23 touchdowns on 111 carries while Wamsley chipped in with 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns on 163 totes of the pigskin.
Gibbs, who has rushed for 615 yards and seven scores on 87 carries, keeps the offense balanced with his passing. The White Falcons' signal caller has completed 53-of-100 attempts for 1,088 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His favorite receivers have been Roush (17-257, 2 TDs) and junior Wyatt Zuspan (12-255, 2 TDs), but also look for Austin Cole (8-208, 3 TDs), Crandale Neal (5-146, 3 TDs) and Colton Neal (3-109, 1 TD) to see passes thrown in their directions.
"They (Magnolia) are too good defensively to just run the ball all the time," said Cromley. "We want to be versatile, but we want to be the team that decides when we pass and when we run."
The winner of this game will advance to the Class A championship game where it will face the winner of No. 1 Tucker County and No. 4 Madonna on Wheeling Island Stadium at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.