CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sissonville has certainly made a living off its ground game this season.
The Indians crank out nearly 314 yards per game running the ball and have scored 45 touchdowns on the ground.
But don't go to sleep on Sissonville's passing game. It's developed into a nice threat that complements the bevy of running backs coach Eddie Smolder carries.
Senior quarterback Nathan Miller, who played two seasons as a wideout and was one of the top returning receivers in the state this year, has been a reliable source of offense for the Indians.
Miller has thrown for 1,169 yards and 14 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He's also hit on four 2-point conversion tosses.
In seven games this season, Miller has completed 50 percent or better of his passes. Six times he's thrown for more than 100 yards, including a personal-best of 220 against Poca.
"We can run the spread offense with Nathan Miller if we wanted to,'' Smolder said. "He probably has one of the strongest arms in double-A.
"We try to stay within our system [of running the ball], but we can throw if we need to, if we have to. Obviously it's not something we want to do coming into a game, but we like to mix it up and throw it if we can.''
Luke Salmons has developed a solid program in just his third season at Cabell Midland.
The Knights are 29-7 in his three years heading into Saturday's Class AAA first-round playoff game against Washington, reaching the quarterfinals in 2011 and the title game last year.
Salmons swears by two of his biggest decisions when he took over in Ona - the belief of lifting weights four times a week even during the season, and the concept of platooning his players, that is using entirely different 11-man units for offense and defense, something few state high schools employ.
"I think it's why we've played so well,'' Salmons said earlier this year. "Everyone's healthy. In Year 3, we're right where we need to be. They're excited and they understand it's a long season. Every week we continue to get better.''
Salmons is also pleased that he's been able to rely on a squad that's long on veteran, experienced players.
"We've got good depth on both sides of the ball,'' he said, "playing everybody one way. We've got good depth behind them, and they're all juniors and seniors. There's not one sophomore who plays - and we've got a good sophomore class, so that's a good sign, and the [junior varsity started] undefeated.
"They know the system, and it's good. We want the kids to play as juniors and seniors. We've run the ball up and down the field. We've got five running backs who can run the ball. It's important to keep them fresh because it's a long season. We're watching their weight and making sure they maintain their weight because the season can get you run down a little bit. I've seen it so many times.''
George Washington's pass defense has become pretty well regarded in this part of the state, and the Patriots are doing nothing to change that notion this season.
The Patriots have allowed just four TD passes all year, and opponents are completing just 39.7 percent of their attempts (58 of 146) with nine intercepted.
Ashland (Ky.) and Princeton didn't complete a single pass on GW and Parkersburg was 1 of 10. SC's Kentre Grier, who could turn out to be an all-state quarterback, threw for 200 yards but had his only game of the season where he was under 50 percent (14 of 32).
Yes, GW has allowed 942 yards in the air, but remember that many teams are forced to throw once they get so far behind.
Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor, whose team has played GW five times over the last three seasons with another top-notch QB (Austin Hensley), understands what makes the Patriots' pass D click.
"People have to understand about GW - their defense is good,'' Taylor said. "They're well-coached and they do a great job with those guys. It's a combination of great athletes and great coaches.
"What GW has is that they lock up [man-to-man] and dare you to throw against them. They have about four, five kids who can play. They can run with everybody that we have. That's the thing about them.