CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the first time in four seasons, the Kanawha Valley will send a band of four to the Class AAA football playoffs.
By virtue of Friday's 20-17 come-from-behind victory at Spring Valley, Hurricane notched the No. 14 seed in AAA and earned a return trip to Laidley Field to face Capital in the opening round of the postseason.
Three other Kanawha Valley teams - Capital, George Washington and South Charleston - had already wrapped up their playoff spots before Friday's games, and all found out their postseason itinerary Saturday evening when the final rankings were released by the SSAC (see lists, Page 2D).
Game assignments, including dates, sites and kickoff times, will be determined during meetings today at the SSAC office in Parkersburg. They will be posted on the Gazette scoreline (304-348-1713) when made available.
It marks the first time since 2010 that four Kanawha Valley teams made the grade in Class AAA. GW has now reached the postseason seven straight years, Hurricane four and Capital two. SC's last trip was 2010.
They were joined by three other teams from the Mountain State Athletic Conference in the AAA field - No. 1 Huntington (which hosts Lewis County), No. 7 Cabell Midland (hosts Washington) and No. 15 Spring Valley (visits three-time defending champion Martinsburg).
It's the third straight season in which seven MSAC teams qualified.
Another MSAC squad, Princeton (6-4), just missed as it finished 17th in the AAA list, a mere half-bonus point behind Lewis County (7-3), which lost at Point Pleasant 31-21 Saturday afternoon to complete its regular season.
Among the other close-but-no-luck teams were No. 17 Lincoln and No. 18 Chapmanville in AA, and No. 17 Parkersburg Catholic in Class A.
Logan secured its third AAA spot in four years, coming in at No. 13 and earning a trip to No. 4 Point Pleasant (10-0), which turned in its second unbeaten regular season in three years.
The remaining Class AAA matchup also carries some intrigue, as crosstown rivals Morgantown (No. 11) and University (No. 6) are set to square off at the Hawks' Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium. The two teams closed out the regular season against each other only nine days ago, with University posting a 14-3 triumph.
One more Kanawha Valley entry barely held on to its home-field advantage in Class AA as Sissonville (9-1) wound up in the No. 8 position and hosts No. 9 Mingo Central (8-2) in the opening round.
The Indians came in with one more bonus point than the Miners, which ultimately allows them to host next weekend's game at Joe Sawyer Field. In past years, Sissonville held home playoff games at Laidley Field because its own facility was not an approved site.
It's Sissonville's first venture into the postseason since 2007.
Although official word won't be available until today, some teams have already indicated when or where they'll be playing.
Donnie Mays, South Charleston's first-year coach, said Saturday that he'll request his game at Wheeling Park be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, instead of opting for a Saturday afternoon kickoff time because of the lengthy trip involved.
"To me, high school football is meant to be played on Friday nights at 7:30,'' Mays said. "It's not such a long trip that it's going to wear you down.
"It's a three-hour trip and you need to be smart about it - eat something, take breaks. We're going to go up there in a normal amount of time, get up and move around and get your kids ready. It's no different than sitting in a classroom for an hour and a half at a time and moving to the next class.''
Hurricane will also likely pick Friday night for a visit to Laidley to face Capital. The Redskins lost there to the Cougars 39-8 just nine days ago.
In fact, it will be the third straight playoff game in Charleston for Hurricane, which lost at GW both in the 2011 quarterfinals and in the first round last season. Last year's game at GW was held on Friday night under then first-year coach Jeremy Taylor.
George Washington's first-round date turned out to be No. 9 Oak Hill (8-2), which features running back Jalen Jones, who's considered a top Kennedy Award candidate.
Jones finished the regular season as the third-leading AAA rusher in the state with 1,535 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Patriots coach Steve Edwards Jr. doesn't think Friday's 14-6 loss to Capital will deflate his team any heading into the postseason. GW came into the game averaging 46.7 points and hadn't been held below 34 in any previous game.
"It won't matter,'' Edwards said minutes after Friday's game. "From now on, it's win and stay in - stick around. That's all we're worried about.
"I'm glad we got a home game at least for these seniors. Hopefully, we're fortunate enough to play good there. We just want to stick around as long as we can.''
Valley (10-0), which wrapped up the first unbeaten regular season in the history of the Fayette County school that opened in 1976, had already determined it would also stage its home playoff games at Laidley Field.
The Greyhounds came in No. 3 in Class A and are paired with No. 14 Magnolia (6-4), the 2010 state champ in AA before dropping down a class.
With Capital most likely playing Hurricane at Laidley on Friday, the Valley-Magnolia tussle could be looking at a 1:30 p.m. start time on Saturday.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.
First-round playoff pairings