Madonna-Tucker looms as high-scoring affair
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A cold front is expected to bring chilly temperatures and even some snow showers just in time for the Class A high school football state semifinal today at 1:30 p.m. between host Tucker County and Madonna.
However, both the Mountain Lions and Blue Dons have high-scoring offenses should heat things up enough to help everyone forget about the nippy conditions.
No. 1 seed Tucker County (12-0) comes into the contest averaging an impressive 42 points per game, but don't count on this team resting on its past performances.
"It's nice to be the top seed, but we play week to week and not worry about that other stuff," said Mountain Lions coach A.J. Rapp. "There's no looking ahead ever or even looking back. The coaches do a great job keeping the team focused. We just do what we have to do and the game will take care of itself."
Tucker County's offensive punch comes from senior quarterback Derek Nestor, who has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 21 touchdowns as well as rushed for over 800 yards this season.
"Derek has really come into his own this year," added Rapp. "He's probably the most improved player that we've had from year to year. He is pretty even keeled out there - not too high or too low, which is good as a leader of this team. He helps keep us focused."
Despite the incredible offensive prowess of his team, Rapp believes the competition is tough enough that extra time may be needed to decide who advances to the championship game in Wheeling.
"Anytime you get to this time of the year, you have to be ready for tough games all the way through," stated Rapp. "We've prepared our team for a four-quarter battle and it may even go into overtime, you never know."
On the other side, No. 4 Madonna (11-1) averages 41 points, but the Blue Dons know they are in for a tough game.
"We're excited to be a part of the state semifinal game," said coach Doug Taylor. "However, we know we're facing the No. 1 team in the state. They are a good football team and very much deserve the No. 1 ranking."
Tucker County will rely on Austin Zirk, who has almost 1,000 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns this season.
Junior quarterback Ross Comis leads the Madonna offense, throwing for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns. He's also carried the ball 167 times for 1,415 yards and 22 touchdowns.
"This kid is something special," added Taylor. "He's the real deal for us. Not only that, he's a great kid with good morals. Plus, he knows he has a great supporting staff around him and he's very appreciative of them."
Madonna will also look to running back Nick Ossman (747 yards, 11 TDs) and Eliott Nero (609 yard, six TDs) to provide an offensive spark.
"We believe that we played a difficult schedule, which included a few Ohio teams," said Taylor. "Hopefully, the schedule we played has prepared us enough to play this team and win."
The winner gets a berth in the 7 p.m. state title game on Dec. 1 at Wheeling Island Stadium against the winner of the Wahama-Magnolia semifinal, which will also be held today in New Martinsville.