CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Six games dot the state schedule this weekend for the playoff semifinals, but you can argue that the biggest game takes place today in the Eastern Panhandle.
The star power will be out in full force when George Washington travels to Martinsburg for a Class AAA semifinal at Cobourn Field. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
The No. 2-seeded Bulldogs (11-1) resume their quest to capture a third straight state championship, which hasn't been done in the AAA bracket since Charleston High pulled it off in 1968-70. They've won 39 of 40 games over the last three seasons and have taken 43 in a row at home.
Meanwhile, No. 3 GW (10-2) features the state's top attraction in senior running back and North Carolina recruit Ryan Switzer, last year's Kennedy Award winner and the odds-on favorite to capture the honor again this season.
It's also a rematch of last year's state finals, an exciting affair in which Martinsburg trailed twice before holding on to post a 35-27 victory at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"We're kind of familiar with them,'' Switzer said, "because we played them last year, and they're kind of similar to us. They've got a lot of great athletes. We're going to have to tackle in space - I know that - which is what we didn't do last year. Maybe some of the breaks we didn't get last year will happen this year, who knows?''
Each team rallies around a senior offensive leader. For GW, it's Switzer and for the Bulldogs, it's quarterback Justin "Cookie'' Clinton, who has stepped nicely into the role handled the last two years by all-stater Brandon Ashenfelter.
In fact, Clinton and Switzer have similar numbers across the board on offense despite playing different positions.
Clinton has accounted for 2,678 yards either rushing or passing this season, along with 33 touchdowns (17 rushing, 16 throwing). Switzer has racked up 2,439 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) with 35 TDs (31 of them on the ground).
"He's done a fantastic job,'' said Martinsburg coach Dave Walker of Clinton. "He throws the ball really well and runs really well. He's been a big part of what we're doing.
"He was our [junior varsity] quarterback as a sophomore, and we knew he had the potential to be pretty good. He played there as a freshman on the ninth-grade team, too, so there's only been one year he didn't play full-time at quarterback, when he was a receiver last year.''