"They get mentioned a lot, that 1-9 team,'' Mullins said, "but I'll tell you that team taught us how to play - the Austin Farmers and the Mike Cottrills and those guys. Every snap, they played as hard as they could at 1-9 - even when they knew their season was over.
"They showed these guys to play every snap like it might be your last one, and I think they learned a lot of good lessons from those guys.''
Parkersburg is probably the poster child for the physical level of play throughout the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
The Big Reds were down to their No. 3 tailback by the fourth game and also went through a stretch playing without three of their top linemen and two leading receivers.
Other league teams battling key injuries this season were Capital (Dustin Pullin, Tyler McClaskie), Nitro (Michael Hall, Ethan Clark), Princeton (Tre Hopkins, Tahj Johnson), Hurricane (Fletcher), Greenbrier East (Ethan Level) and Riverside (Leon Mitchell).
"When we had our MSAC meeting, all the coaches were talking about how we literally beat each other up,'' said Parkersburg coach Don Reeves. "Everyone's losing two, three kids. It's just a tough conference week in and week out, and it's tough for us to survive the conference schedule by late in the season.''
Luke Salmons, Cabell Midland's first-year coach, thinks his team's late-season surge (winning seven of eight after an 0-2 start) could be partially attributed to its penchant for platooning players.
About the only regular to play both offense and defense for the Knights this season has been senior running back-free safety Cody Carter.
"Through the course of the year, you're going to have your ups and downs,'' Salmons said, "and kids will get hurt. But I've felt like we've had a lot of kids who stepped up. We don't play anybody but one kid both ways, and we stay true to that.
"It's hard at times, especially when kids get banged up. We've developed some depth, and playing kids one way has been really beneficial in the third, fourth quarters. That's what we pride ourselves on. The kids have done a good job buying into that every week.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.