HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- St. Albans coach Steven Stoffel Jr. had more concerns this week than worrying about top-ranked and undefeated Huntington.
For starters, the Red Dragons coach had to figure out who was starting at quarterback after junior signal-caller Noah Reed was ruled out Friday morning with an illness. In addition, Stoffel had to plug other holes in the backfield and along the offensive line.
The Red Dragons gutted it out for a while, trailing only 14-6 after the first quarter, but the Highlanders' athleticism and speed eventually won out in a 56-18 victory. A crowd of about 600 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup at Bob Sang Stadium on a frigid night.
Huntington (8-0), No. 1 in this week's state ratings, scored five different ways on big play after big play in cleaning up its act before next week's showdown at home against South Charleston.
"We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes,'' said frustrated Huntington coach Billy Seals. "We give up a touchdown on special teams, which we haven't done all year long.
"We tried to field a punt at the 2-yard line and give up a touchdown. Just wasn't our brand of football. I know our kids were disappointed in the way we played and that shows some backbone. They were visibly upset. They know that's not good enough. Next week we play like that, we'll be 8-1.''
Huntington became the fourth top-12 team SA (1-7) has faced this season. The Red Dragons' biggest void was Reed, who was 3 yards shy of surpassing 1,000 for the year and has thrown for 14 TDs.
SA junior tailback Ryan Broderick filled in under center and completed just 1 of 5 passes for 3 yards with an interception, but was the Dragons' leading rusher with 61 yards on nine attempts.
"We had to start scrambling this morning at 10 o'clock,'' said Stoffel. "We asked the kids to make some adjustments and help us out. We came out and played hard the first quarter. Made [Huntington] do some things and controlled the ball. We're right in the game early and getting some confidence.''