CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sissonville will get a jolt of confidence this week when its top pass catcher returns, and it couldn't come at a better time.
Indians junior Houston Hill, who was second in the Cardinal Conference in receiving during the regular season, served a suspension and missed last week's 28-18 Class AA opening-round victory over No. 9 Mingo Central.
Hill's presence will be welcomed when No. 8 Sissonville (10-1) faces top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Wayne (11-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. The Indians fell 58-19 to the Pioneers in their regular-season meeting.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Hill, who averages 19 yards per grab, was ejected in the Indians' season finale at Braxton County for fighting. Hill turned in 31 receptions for 591 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
"It's a huge impact,'' Sissonville third-year coach Eddie Smolder said of Hill's return. "Houston Hill is a big part of what we do in all three phases of the game. Just leadership and continuity. It's unfortunate circumstances, but we're all exited to have Houston back on the team.''
Hill's return is like getting two players back for Smolder. Hill is a two-way player who also starts at defensive back.
"It'll definitely give us our leading receiver back and that always helps,'' the Indians coach said. "He's a good defensive player and a sound tackler. That helps our defense more than anything.''
Sissonville stayed exclusively on the ground against Mingo Central in last week's first-round win, which was the Indians' first playoff victory since marching all the way to the AA state title game in 1994. Friday's playoff appearance was also Sissonville's first since 2007.
The Indians rode sophomore Jarred Wilkinson (199 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and senior Dominic Walker (135 yards) in the win over the Miners. Sissonville senior quarterback Nathan Miller completed 6 of 10 pass for 39 yards to five different receivers.
Though field conditions on a rainy night and the fact that Mingo Central had trouble stopping the run may have dictated that strategy more than anything.
"When you take someone off all three phases of the game it takes you out of the flow,'' said Smolder. "I think it's more of a comfort thing.
"[Hill is] a good blocker and he's able to catch the ball. He's just a bigger target than anyone else we have out there. He obviously helps the passing game. All the guys stepped up [last] Friday and did a good job filling in for him.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.