CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Besides the obvious Putnam County rivalry, there's another reason why tonight's Winfield-Hurricane game bears watching.
Because the loser, most likely, is gone from playoff contention.
That should be incentive enough when the Generals (3-4) tangle with Hurricane (4-3) at Redskin Stadium at 7:30.
"I expect Winfield to be sky-high,'' said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. "They want to knock us out of the playoff hunt, and they're itching to get in. If we want to go anywhere, we've got to win out and beat some good teams.''
The Redskins enter the game ranked 19th in the playoff ratings, three out of the final spot, and have games left against No. 4 Capital (6-1) and No. 12 Spring Valley (6-2). The Generals, at 24th, have to win out against St. Albans (1-6) and No. 1 Huntington (7-0).
"I don't think 5-5 gets you in the playoffs this year,'' said Winfield coach Craig Snyder. "There are a lot of quality teams in triple-A looking at 6-4. With our schedule, we have to win out and we'd have a ton of bonus points.
"But this is a big game for us regardless of records. Hurricane's been a huge rivalry game since the series resumed in 2005.''
Winfield hasn't fared well since the neighboring teams picked up their series, losing seven of the eight games, including a 44-7 setback last year. The lone Generals' victory in that string came in 2009 by a 17-16 score.
However, since they started playing again, this is the first time the game has been held this late in the season. The previous eight times, it was each team's opener.
"It'll be a little different,'' Taylor said, "because when it's the first game of the year, everybody's got a chance, everybody's undefeated. This time, I guess we both have a little bit more to play for.''
Expect the ball to be in the air tonight - and a lot, as the game matches the No. 1 and No. 3 passers in the Mountain State Athletic Conference. Hurricane's Austin Hensley has thrown for 1.615 yards and 18 touchdowns, and Winfield's Toby Show checks in with 1,218 yards and 12 TDs.
There's also the chance for a lot of points to flicker on the scoreboard, as the Redskins have dropped 123 on their last two opponents - a 60-54 loss at George Washington and last week's 69-16 win against St. Albans.