GW, Wolves familiar foes
When you meet a team in the playoffs that you faced during the regular season, preparation can be accelerated because you've already installed a game plan once.
Of course, that's offset because your opponent is also ahead of the curve - it knows how you're likely going to attack and defend.
Such is the case with George Washington and Spring Valley, who tangle at 7:30 Friday night in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.
The No. 3-seeded Patriots (10-0) and No. 14 Timberwolves (6-4) met on Oct. 7 in Wayne County, with George Washington winning 39-20.
Either team could try to spring a surprise or two, but both coaches expect to see more of the same from their first meeting.
"It's hard to tell,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. "At this point in time, you sort of think they'll do what they've been doing all year, but I'm sure they'll probably throw a wrinkle or two in there. Basically, you pretty much think you're going to see what you've seen in the past - what we saw a few weeks ago. And that's about what you'll see from us. It's always a tough, physical ballgame with them.''
GW and Spring Valley have met each season since 2007, with the Patriots winning four of the five games.
"We're very familiar with each other, and the kids know each other,'' said Timberwolves coach Brad Dingess. "When you get in the playoffs, you kind of want to play somebody new. There shouldn't be any surprises or anything like that when we line up.
"It helps a lot being able to bring out the old game tape and the old scouting report, and the game's still fresh on everybody's minds. We can tell the kids, 'They'll do this and they'll do that.'''
Edwards said that while preparation time for an opponent can be cut down some with a second game, a coaching staff also has to take time for a self-diagnostic.
"It works both ways,'' Edwards said. "Brad and I don't change much year in and year out. But what you worry about is the things they pick up from you. So you study yourself and study your mistakes you made the last time, try to keep them from taking advantages of your shortcomings from the last game.''
The first game featured vastly different halves.
GW fumbled on its first three possessions - all on its own side of the 50 - losing two, and the game was tied at 14 at the break. In the second half, the Patriots scored touchdowns on four straight possessions to build their lead.
"That's sure as heck not the way anybody wants to start out,'' Edwards said. "We were very fortunate not to be down. We could have been down 21-0 real quick. We were fortunate to weather the storm and got a little luck and made things happen.''
If GW makes any more mistakes, Dingess said his team must take advantage.
"We've got to do a better job of capitalizing when we do get turnovers,'' he said. "I was upset we were tied 14-14. I thought we should have been up. They gave us the ball three times inside the red zone and we got seven points out of the whole thing.
"If we'd have gone up at halftime, that changes the way things go in the second half. They made adjustments and took care of business in the second half, and whipped us in the second half.''
GW tailback Ryan Switzer finished with 145 yards and two TDs on 19 carries in the first game against Spring Valley.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.