When South Charleston started out the season 1-3, it left itself with little margin for error.
Even though one team sneaked into the Class AAA playoffs at 5-5 last year and 6-4 is usually good enough to qualify for a Mountain State Athletic Conference team, SC coach John Messinger felt like his squad had to win out in order to reach the postseason.
Well so far, it's been good for the Black Eagles (4-3), who have won three straight heading into tonight's 7:30 home game against Nitro (2-4). It marks the final game for SC at Oakes Field, as it plans to play at the field next to the high school in 2013.
"What we're trying to do,'' Messinger said, "is don't get rattled too much with pressure knowing what we have to do - and that's win out. As the weeks go by, there's a little more pressure and I hope we've prepared as well as we can.
"We're still pretty youthful. The last two weeks, we've gone with a freshman quarterback [Kentre Grier], a sophomore running back [L.K. Richmond], a couple young guys up front and defensively, we've started four freshmen.''
Messinger knows that Nitro presents a dangerous offense, especially with the pass-catch tandem of Chris Moody and Ethan Clark. Moody stands third in the MSAC in passing and Clark leads the league in receiving. In addition, Alex White has booted nine field goals, his longest 42 yards.
"We take this game very seriously,'' Messinger said. "We're not going to automatically come out and walk away with a win. We've got to play four quarters, or we'll get in trouble fast with this bunch. Ultimately, our goal is to win enough to get back in the playoff picture again, and we can't look forward to Week 9 or Week 10. We've got to look at Nitro.
"They block it real well and make it tough to get to that kid [Moody]. I think when [Nitro coach Derek Midkiff] gets his system in place and they have the time to learn it, they'll be in good position to turn that program around. I just hope it's not this week.''
Grier has replaced junior Jon Alexander, who made 14 straight starts at QB before being replaced. Alexander has since transferred to Hargrave Military Academy (Va).