CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cabell Midland's been in the playoff semifinals before. In fact, the Knights have now made it this far four times since 2000.
Only this time, it feels different.
Midland feels like it belongs there, and that could go a long way toward the team's ultimate goal when the Knights (12-0) lock up with Morgantown (10-2) tonight in the Class AAA semis. Kickoff is set for 7:30 in Ona.
The survivor advances to the state championship game at noon on Dec. 1 at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Mohigans last made that trip during a title run in 2005; the Knights, meanwhile, have never played in the state finals.
However, second-year coach Luke Salmons has noticed a difference in his players' attitude this season as his program posted the school's first-ever unbeaten regular season and secured the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
"I don't want to say they expect to be here,'' Salmons said, "but last year, when they made it to the second round, they were happy. So this year, we have a different mindset. They want to keep playing, and they want to win. They're not happy just to be here; they want to win and go to Wheeling.
"They don't talk about getting to the playoffs and going undefeated. Their mindset is they're going to win, and that's important to believe that. They've been pretty even keel since the beginning of the season, and that's the way they've worked as a team. That's why they're here.''
Midland leans on a reliable running game, led by seniors David Gaydosz (1,886 yards, 26 touchdowns) and Lowell Farley (1,471 yards, 19 TDs), the latter the school's all-time rushing leader. Kasey Thomas and Coy Pettit split time at quarterback.
Gaydosz, running behind a dominating line that features 2011 first-team all-stater Josh Baisden, posted back-to-back games of six touchdowns at midseason against Woodrow Wilson and Winfield.