MASON-The last time Wahama and Madonna met on the gridiron it was to decide the Class A championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium. A game won by the White Falcons by a single-point, 43-42, to take home the school's first ever title in the sport.
Saturday's 7:30 p.m. showdown at Weir High School, however, may have even more meaning as the No. 8 White Falcons (10-1) and No. 1 Blue Dons (11-0) need a victory to keep their title hopes alive in 2013.
"We're going to play who (the WVSSAC) tells us we play," Madonna head coach Doug Taylor said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge for us, but I think the kids are looking forward to it."
"There's been a lot of talk ever since the pairings came out and it appeared as if we would meet in this game," interim Wahama head coach Dave Barr explained. "I know they (Madonna) have been talking a lot about it and I'm sure our kids are looking forward to the challenge."
Both teams are coming off impressive opening round victories as the White Falcons dispatched No. 9 Clay-Battelle by a 48-27 margin while the Blue Dons ended No. 16 Tucker County's season with a 52-0 whitewashing.
"It was a real tough game for a while," Barr said. "But, I felt like, late in the game, our conditioning became a factor. We were able to make the plays that we needed to make and we came away with the win."
The challege becomes a little bit greater for the Mason Countians against a Madonna team that returns one of the top rushers in Class A from a year ago-Ross Comis. The Blue Dons senior amassed 1,591 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on 193 carries and was a one-man wrecking crew when the two teams met for the state title.
"We will definitely look back at what they did last year," said Barr. "But, at the same time, you have to be diligent in your film study because both teams lost players to graduation and you have to make sure how they are using the kids that replaced them."
Same could be said for Madonna, however.
"They (Wahama) have the (Kyle) Roush kid back and they have the (Colton) Neal kid back," said Taylor. "They also bring back the entire offensive and defensive line that played against us in that game.
"Then, on top of that, they picked up a really good player in the quarterback (Hunter Bradley) from Roane County."
That trio has again allowed the White Falcons to enter the postseason as one of the top offenses in the Mountain State, averaging 49.4 points per game.
"What makes them so tough to defend is that any one of those players can break loose and go the distance so we are going to have to be really disciplined in our assignments and make sure that we tackle well in open space," continued Taylor.
Roush is the primary weapon as the senior all-state performer accounted for 202 points and 1,297 rushing yards during the regular season. Neal isn't far behind with 868 yards and 15 touchdowns on 103 carries while Bradley, who is 32-of-67 for 796 yards and 12 touchdowns passing, contributed 269 yards and five touchdowns on 41 rushes.
"Those kids have had a great season, but you don't win games like Saturday with just three kids," said Barr. "We are going to have to have other players step up for us so that they (Madonna) just can key on those three."
Players like running backs Brandon Stewart (31-234, 2 TDs), Wyatt Wooten (15-165, 3 TDs) and Demetrius Serevicz (12-110, 1 TD) as well as receiver Wyatt Zuspan, who has 10 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
"We are a big believer in the wing-T offense," Barr continued. "We have some really good backs. We have a veteran offensive line. And, we have a quarterback that is more than capable of throwing the football if we need to.
"The key for us is to eliminate what they do well and see how it works out from there."
The winner will advance to the Final Four where it will take on the winner of No. 4 Williamstown and No. 12 Bishop Donahue next weekend.