CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During Eddie Smolder's high school and college playing career there was never a season he wasn't getting ready for the playoffs or a bowl game.
The former Ripley High School and Marshall standout has finally broken through as a head coach and has host No. 8 Sissonville (9-1) in the opening round of the postseason for the first time since 2007, taking on No. 9 Mingo Central (8-2) at 7:30 tonight at Joe Sawyer Field.
"It's a long time coming,'' said Smolder, who was in the final 16 at Ripley all three years of high school and competed in four bowl games at Marshall. "Right now [our players are] excited and embracing the moment.
"When I took over three years ago I hired great coaches and put a plan in place and they've done a great job working hard, being coachable and playing together as a team. I couldn't be more proud of the team and our coaches. I think the most satisfying thing about it is seeing everybody's excitement. In some cases bringing it back. We're not satisfied with where we're at.''
Sissonville earned the home-field advantage over Mingo Central by one bonus point. Joe Sawyer Field will be hosting a playoff game for the first time. The Indians' previous postseason games were at Laidley Field.
The Indians have run their way into the postseason.
Sissonville senior running back Dominic Walker leads the ground assault with 1,311 yards on 158 carries for an 8.3-yard average with 21 touchdowns. Sophomore tailback Jared Wilkinson (121-724, 6.0, 12) and senior quarterback Nathan Miller (73-548, 7.5, 5) have helped carry the load.
Miller is also a capable passer with 1,169 yards on 68 of 128 accuracy and 15 TDs against only four interceptions.