Big Reds eye the upset of top-ranked Martinsburg

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg High offensive lineman Greyson Cooper works on a double-block against Cabell Midland defensive lineman Layne Powell during a 2018 regular-season game. Cooper and the Big Reds head to Martinsburg for a matchup with the top-rated Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

PARKERSBURG — The Class AAA machine known as Martinsburg, which is seeking a third consecutive state title for head coach Dave Walker, will welcome Parkersburg for a 1:30 p.m. Saturday quarterfinal showdown at Cobourn Field as the Bulldogs look to make the Big Reds their 40th consecutive victim on the gridiron.

MHS earned the top seed following an undefeated regular season which saw the Bulldogs average 57.5 points per game while allowing just 8.6. The ‘Dogs handed Hurricane, which lost 38-14 in the regular season to head coach Mike Byus’ Big Reds, a 35-0 setback in last week’s opening round.

PHS (7-4) is coming off a 28-21 road win at No. 8 Wheeling Park in its first round contest, but the Big Reds will be without leading rusher Tyler Moler.

“We’ve came from 1-3 and we are really close to being 8-3 from 1-3. I’m really proud of our kids,” said Byus, who watched Kionte Peacock return a kickoff 87 yards late in the fourth quarter for the winning score against WPHS to give the Big Reds their first postseason triumph since the 2007 title team.

“I’m really proud of the kids and the coaches for hanging in there and battling back. It (the season) turned out pretty well for us. Hopefully, we are not finished, but I’m still proud of their effort to this point.”

It’s going to take everything the Big Reds have to pull off what would be a shocking statewide upset.