10-0 season in sight for Titans

GLENVILLE — Seeking the school’s first perfect regular season, the Gilmer County football squad is going to have to earn its last win of the regular season when the Titans welcome in Class A power Meadow Bridge for a 7:30 p.m. start for Senior Night Friday night.

This game also will be the last chance for the Gilmer County seniors to grab a win over the Wildcats.

“It is a very proud program,” said Gilmer head man Steve Shuff. “Meadow Bridge has been to the playoffs nine of the last 12 seasons and they are playing the same tough schedule as they have for the last few years so this will be a challenging game. Our coaches and boys will have to be fully focused on grinding out a win.

“We are focused on sending the seniors out the right way.”

Although Meadow Bridge has been a perennial playoff contender, the team is going through a down year in 2016. The Wildcats’ record stands at 1-8 with its only win coming over Valley (Fayette), 26-21. Five of the team’s losses this season have come against teams who are currently qualified for the Class A playoffs this season.

Dwayne Reichard and his team come in to their matchup with the Titans off the heels of a tough, shut out 49-0 loss at Mount View.

Reichard’s squad is led by do-it-all quarterback/running back Chris Simms, who is now in his final season as the leader of the Wildcats.

“He could play for anyone,” said Shuff. “He is just that good and he brings with him a winning attitude and knows how to make some plays in and out of the pocket.”

Relying on Simms to make some big plays will be crucial if the Wildcats hope to pull off the upset. Unfortunately, Simms and company will be going up against a dynamic defensive front which has stifled big playmakers all season long. The Titans’ point stopping unit is led by a powerful defensive line with Tyler Meadows, Jason Montgomery and Jordan Brown featured prominently. Behind the group, senior linebacker Cole Haley will be waiting to slow down Simms or any other Meadow Bridge skill player unlucky enough to cross paths with the hard-hitting player.

“We have to be ready to shut down the run whenever they come at us,” said Shuff. “We may have 9 to 11 guys in the box at times because coach Reichard moves Simms around to play to his strengths on any given play. One thing is for sure — They better put a body on Cole because our lineman do a great job of taking up blockers and allowing our linebackers to flow to the football and make plays. Cole is a tremendous athlete and the best football player on the team. He loves to make contact and deliver big hits and my staff and I like when he does it.”

Defensively, Meadow Bridge is going to need a solid game plan to effectively slowdown a dynamic Gilmer County offense, yet to be held to under 20 points in a game this season, with a plethora of big time playmakers everywhere on the field.

Chief among those game-changing athletes is dual-threat quarterback Trey Shuff. The senior has left his mark on almost every game he has played this year and comes into the contest riding high after a particularly impressive performance against Parkersburg Catholic in the Titans’ 33-6 win over the Crusaders last weekend.

Shuff’s rushing abilities were on full display against PCHS. The signal-caller ran 17 times for 145 yards and scored the first four touchdowns of the game for Gilmer County. His scores weren’t just 1-yard plunges either, they came from 7, 1, 9 and 45 yards out.

Shuff also got the job done with his arm. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 155 yards in addition to his ground game numbers.

Joining Shuff on the ground are running backs Joey Frame, Gunnar Haley and Jared Pritt. The trio combined for 23 rushes for 162 stripes against the Crusaders.

In addition to the first win over the Wildcats and a 10-0 record, the matchup also has huge implications to where Gilmer County will play in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. A fact not lost on the elder Shuff and his staff.

“If we win it ensures us a home playoff game,” said Shuff. “The game would be the first home postseason game in the history of the county. Everyone has invested a lot of time and effort to get here where senior night matters. The whole team has been selfless all year long and always looked to the next man up and only taking it one game at a time. The team definitely knows what is at stake.”

With all the stakes, one wonders if it will affect the way Shuff approaches the game. In terms of getting a lead early and getting 10-0 out of the way earlier on to get the starters out of the game and avoid any needless injuries.

“We will just approach this as another game,” said Shuff. “We will take what Meadow Bridge gives us. If we can run the ball, we will run the ball. If we can throw the ball, we will throw the ball. We just need to play our game and take care of what we can take care of.”