’Jackets mindful of Ritchie’s offensive attack

Williamstown’s Rickie Allen, right, tries to avoid a tackle by Doddridge County’s Aiden Eddy during the Yellowjackets’ 43-0 Class A state semifinal victory last week in West Union. (Photo by Kerry Patrick)

WILLIAMSTOWN –During Williamstown’s current playoff run, the offensive numbers have risen to another level.

So when Yellowjacket football coach Chris Beck describes the explosiveness of Ritchie County, he can relate to the Rebels’ offensive efficiency.

At 7 p.m. Saturday inside Wheeling Island Stadium, two schools from the Little Kanawha Conference a mere 30 minutes apart meet for the first time in seven years with the Class A state title hanging in the balance.

No. 6 Williamstown (11-2) is scoring at a 45-point clip through the first three rounds of the playoffs and opposes a fourth-seeded Ritchie County (12-1) outfit which recorded one of the school’s most impressive – if not the most impressive – win in program history during last Saturday’s 20-16 semifinal win over Wheeling Central Catholic.

“Ritchie County can make plays from anywhere on the field and hurt you,” WHS second-year coach Chris Beck said. “They challenge you both vertically and horizontally. They have a bunch of athletes who fly around and make plays. We will have our hands full.”

Saturday marks the 28th meeting between the two schools. Williamstown has the edge with 19 wins against eight losses, including 15 wins in the past 16 meetings.

Williamstown owns two state titles, including the most recent in 2014 when the Yellowjackets defeated another LKC foe in St. Marys, 33-32, in triple overtime.

“For our defense, it starts with trying to make sure Gus Morrison doesn’t hurt us too bad,” Beck said. “We have to control the line of scrimmage, play with physicality and get it done up front. Ritchie County is sound in what they do and do not blow assignments.”

Williamstown took the air out of Doddridge County’s tire from the outset in a semifinal game last week in West Union. The Yellowjackets scored 40 in the first half and defeated the Bulldogs, 43-0, as quarterback Maxwell Molessa scored five touchdowns before halftime – including one on a pass reception.

Beck again pointed out Morrison’s presence on defense as vital to Ritchie County trying to keep Williamstown’s offense in check. Morrison is the reigning Player of the Year in the LKC.

“Gus is also really good on defense – he is their second-leading tackler from the cornerback position,” Beck said. “Our message as coaches this week is about the kids getting just a little bit better. If they play as hard as they can for as long as they can for 48 minutes on Saturday, we will have a chance to be state champions.”

Ritchie County is seeking its first state championship in football. For Williamstown, this year marks trip No. 10 in the finals. All but one championship appearance occurred after the turn of the century. The Yellowjackets also won a title in 2008.

Beck has walked the sidelines at Wheeling Island Stadium in this environment on several occasions after serving as an assistant for 12 years under former WHS coach Terry Smith.

“Anytime the school is playing for a state championship, there is a lot of excitement,” Beck said. “The fact that the schools are 30 minutes from one another adds to the excitement.

“When we played St. Marys in 2014, there was that locality feel to the game. I think there will be a packed house on Saturday. I can’t wait to see how the kids respond.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com


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