Mistakes haunting Yellowjackets, Maroon Knights

WHEELING — In becoming two of West Virginia’s perennial Class A football powers over the years, both Williamstown and Wheeling Central have prided themselves on playing good fundamental football with few mistakes.

However, early in the 2017 campaign both the Yellowjackets and Maroon Knights have been dealing with self-inflicted mistakes that have both teams riding two-game losing streaks entering Friday night’s important matchup on Bishop Schmitt Field at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Coach Terry Smith’s Williamstown squad won its opener against Tyler Consolidated (54-33) but have since lost to Magnolia and Marietta last week by a 49-14 count. In all the ‘Jackets have allowed 127 points in the three games while scoring 98.

“We have not played very well the last two weeks, but a lot of that had to do with Magnolia and Marietta,” Smith admitted. “But it seems like we always end up in third-and-long, which is even worse against good teams. We are coming off a week in which we were flagged 13 times.

“Guys are trying, and the effort is there, but bad breaks, mostly hurting ourselves, are killing us. The mistakes have to be eliminated.”

On the other hand, Coach Mike Young’s Central club lost its opener to Steubenville Central before falling at powerful East Hardy, 10-7, last Friday night.

“I felt like we played a little better than the score indicated last week,” Young commented. “We had a touchdown called back, a couple of bad exchanges and lost yardage on some key penalties.

“We were also held out of the end zone on a play that the kid felt he was in, but that is a judgement call on the road and you can’t leave doubt about those things.”

The biggest thing missing from the Maroon Knights’ attack has been their usually potent rushing attack. Through two games Wheeling Central still does not have a back that has broken the 100-yard mark total.

Senior Dawson Wear has carried 27 times for just 90 yards, junior Bray Price has 30 totes for 81 yards while sophomore quarterback Curtis McGhee III has been charted with 20 carries for 49 yards.

McGhee has completed 10-of-16 passes for 112 yards, two scores and an interception with Anthony Robbins and Blake Peluchette each recording touchdown grabs.

Defensively the Maroon Knights were able to limit East Hardy to just 234 yards of total offense last week and allowing 342 infantry yards to Steubenville Central two weeks earlier.

Williamstown’s normally staunch defense has struggled through three games. In allowing 127 points, the Yellowjackets are giving up an average of 445 yards a contest. Included in that was 432 on the ground to Magnolia, with Hunter Partridge gaining a school record 360 in the contest and scoring four touchdowns.

Smith’s squad is led by quarterback Carter Haynes and leading rusher Donathan Taylor, who finished with 13 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown in last Friday night’s setback.

“Basically, they are a fundamentally sound football team that can run the ball well and has shown some balance on offense,” Young added. “They are aggressive on defense and they have a lot of tradition and history as well.

“But after watching how much we improved from game one to game two, I really like our chances. The kids stepped it up a notch last week and I am very proud of how they have come along.

“The biggest things that we need to do is to get better up front and run the ball harder to get back to what we like to do.”

Williamstown captured last year’s contest by a 36-27 margin, the first regular-season meeting between the two teams since Central downed the ‘Jackets 35-21 in the 2011 state championship game.

YELLOWJACKETS (1-2)

Aug. 25: d. Tyler Cons., 54-32

Sept. 1: lost to Magnolia, 45-30

Sept. 8: lost to Marietta, 49-14

Sept. 15: at Wheeling Central, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22: Ravenswood, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29: at St. Marys, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 6: Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13: at Wirt County, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21: at Park. Catholic, 7 p.m.

Nov. 3: Tolsia, 7 p.m.

MAROON KNIGHTS (0-2)

Aug. 25: Steubenville Cent., 35-14

Sept. 8: lost to East Hardy, 10-7

Sept. 15: Williamstown, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22: Magnolia, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30: at Linsly, 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6: Shadyside (Ohio), 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 13: at Martins Ferry (Ohio), 7 p.m.

Oct. 21: Obama Academy, Pa. 1 p.m.

Oct. 28: at Madonna, 7 p.m.

Nov. 3: Oak Glen, 7 p.m.

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