Buffalo looks for strong finish vs. Wahama
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Buffalo's football program has done some great things over the past few seasons, but this year, the Bison wants to finish what it started.
It gets that chance beginning Friday when Buffalo travels to Mason to take on Wahama (9-0), one of just five remaining unbeaten teams in the state and the current No. 3 seed in Class A.
Buffalo, the No. 10 team in Class A, has been ranked among the state contenders in recent seasons, only to stumble at year's end.
In 2010, the Bison stormed out to a 7-1 record, only to drop its final three games. Then last year, a 6-1 start was soiled by a 1-3 finish. On each occasion, Buffalo lost a first-round playoff game on the road.
So coach Mike Sawyer knows his team would like to reinforce this year's 7-1 start with a big effort on Friday. The Bison fell on the road to Symmes Valley (Ohio) last week 21-20, giving even more reason to shrug off its late-season blues.
"A main reason for that is that most of our hardest games have been at the end of the year,'' Sawyer said, "and we haven't come out on the winning end of those games. Then we're going into the playoffs the last two years on a down note - and that's not the way you want to go into it.
"So it makes Friday big. Plus, we want to play a home game [in the first round of the playoffs]. If we lose, we'll be going on the road. There's another incentive.''
Beating the White Falcons will prove to be difficult, as they have several potent options on offense.
Kane Roush is averaging a ridiculous 18.9 yards per carry and has run for 1,155 yards and 15 touchdowns. Fullback Zach Wamsley, a 195-pound senior, owns 797 yards rushing and 16 TDs, and quarterback Trenton Gibbs has run for 492 yards and four scores and thrown for 925 yards and 11 TDs.
Buffalo also sports some skill with versatile Laythen Good, who leads the team in rushing (739 yards, 10 TDs) and receiving (27 catches, 630 yards, seven TDs). Levi Jordan has passed for 1,525 yards and 21 touchdowns. Fullback Bubba Legg (437 yards, three TDs rushing) and receiver Garison Erwin (26 catches, 439 yards, five TDs) are other weapons.
"We've played them for a while now,'' Sawyer said of the White Falcons, "and they're one of our chief rivals. For the most part, it's been the same coaches [Wahama's Ed Cromley is in his 18th season, Sawyer his 11th].
"They kind of like to run the ball outside, throw the ball a little bit and run inside from time to time. A lot of motion, different things.''
The recent rainy and snowy weather has affected fields all over southern West Virginia, and Sawyer realizes Wahama's field will be soggy on Friday, though he doesn't think it will favor one side over the other.
"They're quick, and we're quick,'' Sawyer said. "We both have some speed. It may not be raining Friday, but it's probably going to be muddy.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.