CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every week, it seems, Sissonville's season ratchets up a notch or two in importance.
First, it was Chapmanville, a Class AA playoff semifinalist in 2011. Then a couple of weeks later, Tolsia - a team whose narrow victory last year helped keep the Indians out of the playoffs.
Last week, it was Scott - a program in the AA playoff quarterfinals a year ago and one with eight postseason berths in the last 13 years.
Sissonville (4-0) conquered all of those challenges to rise to No. 2 in the rankings, but takes a rather serious step forward tonight with a visit to two-time defending state champion Wayne.
The Pioneers (3-0), No. 4 in the AA ratings, own the state's longest winning streak at 26 and haven't trailed in a game since Oct. 7, 2011 - nearly two full years ago. Their first-team defense hasn't allowed more than one touchdown in a game since that same date, a 50-20 win against Scott.
"We're excited about it,'' said Sissonville coach Eddie Smolder. "Anytime you can play the back-to-back state champ and go in undefeated and know you have a chance, it's a great feeling. We've worked hard so far with our time and effort. We'll go in there Friday and put every card on the table and see how it goes.''
Sissonville hasn't beaten the Pioneers since a 7-6 verdict in 2006. Over the last six years, the closest the Indians have come is a 26-6 loss in 2009. In the other five games, the average score read 53-11 in favor of Wayne.
"Obviously, it's the toughest place to play in double-A,'' Smolder said. "I can't think of a tougher place. Half of our starters are seniors who started there as sophomores [in 2011], so they know the atmosphere. We have a lot of respect for Coach [Tom] Harmon and their program. We respect, but not fear them.''
Wayne, which has not turned the ball over this season, is led by quarterback Grant Ferguson (271 yards, one TD) and running back Mason Hodge (217 yards, one TD). The Indians counter with running backs Dominic Walker (476 yards, seven TDs) and Jared Wilkinson (303 yards, five TDs) and QB Nathan Miller (405 yards passing, six TDs).
Sissonville averages 347 yards rushing, but Wayne held Ravenswood to 48 yards on 33 carries last week after the Red Devils came in averaging 288 on the ground.
The Indians lost their third lineman of the season last week at Scott when senior Joey Beane went out with an injury. He's doubtful for tonight.
Midland claimed a 31-13 victory in this series last year, rushing for 333 yards and all four of its touchdowns but losing two fumbles and being flagged 12 times for 125 yards. Hurricane's Austin Hensley ran for a TD that night and connected on 17 of 24 passes for 227 yards.
Point emerged with an 18-13 win in last year's game, with the QBs doing most of the damage. Aden Yates hit on 7 of 9 passes for 153 yards and ran for two Big Blacks scores, while Winfield's Toby Show completed 15 of 27 for 216 yards and two TDs.
The Red Dragons prefer to move the ball in the air with Noah Reed, who has thrown for 302 yards, five touchdowns and three 2-point conversions, completing 33 of 53 attempts.
"If you watch us play,'' said first-year coach Steven Freeman, "you'd see one or two plays where we look like that team we can be. But we are just inconsistent right now and when you play young kids, that's what you get. You play the teams we play, you can't make mistakes or have mental lapses. You can't give the ball to them, and that's something we haven't mastered yet. We can't get behind the chains right now. We're not a team that can overcome third-and-11.''
Versatile Dots quarterback Justin Stewart has run for five TDs, and Cameron Loftus leads the Skyhawks with 456 rushing yards and nine scores.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.