MASON-The road to Wheeling wasn't an easy one for either No. 3 Wahama (13-0) or No. 4 Madonna (12-1), but each school overcame long road trips in the Class A semifinals to reach today's 7 p.m. showdown at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"It (the trip) was tough," said Wahama head coach Ed Cromley. "But we don't care about the location."
In fact, the White Falcons, who have won 31 straight regular season games, have not played a 'true' home game in the postseason in years since Cromley and his staff have elected to play their 'home' playoff games at nearby Point Pleasant High School.
"We love to play on turf," continued the White Falcons' coach. "Will be glad to get back on it on the island."
Wahama received a game-winning, 27-yard field goal from senior Zack Wamsley with 25.3 seconds remaining to eliminate No. 2 Magnolia from the playoffs last Saturday in New Martinsville while the Dons needed two extra periods to send No. 1 Tucker County out of the postseason.
"It's never easy," said Madonna head coach Doug Taylor. "The hardest part is just getting there (to the championship game)."
And both teams have made appearances in the Class A title tilt. The White Falcons reached the 2010 championship game only to suffer a 28-14 setback at the hands of Wheeling Central while Madonna's last visit to the island witnessed the Dons winning the title with a 27-7 win over Man in 2009.
"The saga continues," said Taylor. "I guess this is just the way it is meant to be (public versus private) in Class A."
Both teams feature explosive offenses.
The Dons are paced by the efforts of junior quarterback Ross Comis, who has rushed for 1,563 yards and 24 touchdowns on 199 carries and completed 98-of-158 attempts for 1,466 yards and 17 more scores.
Wahama will counter with one of the most potent one-two rushing attacks in Class A. Junior Kane Roush leads the way with 1,604 yards and 23 touchdowns on 122 carries while Wamsley has contributed 1,141 yards and 20 touchdowns on 174 rushes.
"Those two (Roush and Wamsley) are definitely our workhorses," said Cromley. "On that last drive at Magnolia, Roush pretty well put us on his back and carried us down the field before Zack gave us the win with that field goal."
However, should Madonna overload the box, Wahama is more than capable of moving the ball through the air as senior quarterback Trenton Gibbs has completed 55-of-102 attempts for 1,151 yards and 13 scores.
No more important than the 54-yard completion he made to senior Crandale Neal for the White Falcons' only touchdown against the Blue Eagles.
"Trenton (Gibbs) has been our starting quarterback for three years," said the Wahama coach. "Each year we asked him to do more and more and this year he has really become the leader we expected him to become."
The two teams have met before on the gridiron with Wahama shutting out the Dons 33-0 at Fairmont State University last year.
"They (Wahama) pretty well kicked out butts," said Taylor. "We definitely remember that game and I expect our players will want to make a better showing against them this time."