St. Marys hoping for a shot at defending state champs
ST. MARYS — At the beginning of the year, a potential St. Marys-Wheeling Central Catholic matchup could have been seen as a potential championship game, but these two teams meet in the first round of the West Virginia Class A playoffs on Sunday afternoon from St. Marys.
A wild and unpredictable year caused multiple schedule changes, as St. Marys enters at 8-1 and the No. 4 seed.
The three-time defending champion Maroon Knights (6-3) went through the ringer with their schedule, and they landed the No. 13 seed. That situation isn’t unfamiliar for Central, and SMHS head coach Jodi Mote wants his team to be ready for everything.
He says whether you play them in the first round or championship game, that Central is the team to beat.
“We’ve just been practicing and preparing for Wheeling Central. That’s our focus in practice,” Mote said of how the team is trying to practice despite coronavirus restrictions that could end the season at any time. “The players have done a great job working. They’re three-time state champions, and they’re one of the elite teams in Class A. Anytime you’re in the playoffs, and Wheeling Central is in it, they’re a team you’re going to have to face. We know we’ll have our hands full, and we’ll give it our best shot. We’re thankful to be playing, due to the COVID situation. It’s a thing where you just give it everything you’ve got.”
A balanced rushing attack of Tre Moss (867 yards, 14 touchdowns), Brennan Boron (634 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Ben Long (400 yards, five touchdowns) leads the way for the Blue Devils as the Knights have their own group of runners.
While St. Marys’ Boron hasn’t needed to primarily beat teams with his arm, Central is relying on Michael Toepfer, who has been a part of a rotation with Payton Marling at the position.
Players like Marling and Jordan Waterhouse provide the biggest spark on the ground for the visitors, and Mote wants his stout defense to be ready for bursts of speed.
“From what I’ve seen on film, they just have so much team speed. Speed can make you look silly and can make you make plays you normally wouldn’t make, so we’ve just got to do what we can,” he said.
“We’ve just got to play our responsibilities. They can run, and they can throw. They’re No. 1 for a reason. We have a great team. I feel like our kids are playing hard, our coaches are doing a great job. We just have to do a great job. That’s what we’ll have to do on Sunday. We’ve been blessed during the regular season. We had to reschedule our first two games due to COVID, and we played those. The only game we didn’t play was against Barnesville, because they had an outbreak in the first part of the week.”
Waterhouse picked up where he left off in this somewhat abbreviated year with 1,005 yards rushing and 13 scores to lead his team, as head coach Mike Young expects him and the rest of the team to meet expectations on Sunday.
“Teams take away our running game, and it opens up our play action. We’ve got to be able to spread it out and run it as well as throwing it,” he said of keeping the game plan balanced. “We know the challenge. We’ve seen it at Williamstown and at Petersburg. We’ve seen teams try to stop the run by putting guys in the box. If we can get the ball off and make good passes, it enhances our chances of breaking a big play, and then it causes them to play back, which opens up the run game.”
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