One thing's for certain when Spring Valley lines up against Hurricane in a clash of Class AAA playoff hopefuls - the Timberwolves won't be awestruck by the Redskins' 5-2 record or No. 7 ranking.
That's because the Wolves (4-3) have been playing the best of the best all season, and tonight's 7:30 game at Redskin Stadium will be no different.
Spring Valley's three losses have come to No. 1 Cabell Midland, No. 3 Huntington and No. 4 George Washington. So Hurricane isn't going to throw anything at the Wolves they haven't already seen.
But No. 12 Spring Valley might be able to show the Redskins something they haven't seen much of this season - a bullish lead running back in 6-foot-3, 232-pound fullback Elijah Wellman, who has accepted a scholarship offer to West Virginia. He needs just 17 yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
The closest runners Hurricane has faced so far are Winfield's Seth Lewis (5-9, 210), Nitro's Mason Blake (6-1, 221) and GW's Dustin Crouser (6-3, 225), but Crouser carried just seven times for 42 yards and two TDs against the Skins. Lewis had 100 yards on 24 attempts and Blake 84 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
"They're going to do what they do,'' Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor said of the Timberwolves, "and that's run the ball, and you have to stop Wellman. They average close to 300 pounds across the line of scrimmage. We haven't seen a team like that. Some colleges don't have a line as big as theirs. It'll be a challenge to stop.
"As good as [Wellman] is, you put somebody like Seth Lewis or those other big kids behind the offensive line they have and they'll make you look good. He's a heck of a player, but he only goes as far as those big horses in front take him. They move people.''
Hurricane has allowed 159.7 yards per game rushing.
"The key to this game is defense,'' Taylor said. "I think we're ready. A lot it's not believing the scheme you're playing, it's just doing the fundamental things right. If they physically beat us, that's one thing, but if you're out of position, that's when I have problems. If we play assignment football, hopefully we can slow them down enough to force them into mistakes.''
In tonight's other games involving Kanawha Valley teams:
South Charleston (5-3) at Ripley (3-5): The Vikings gave SC fits last year, losing just 27-20 at Oakes Field. Ripley hogged the ball, running it 54 times and made use of the Black Eagles' three turnovers and nine penalties. SC's Trevond Reese had six catches for 175 yards and two TDs in that game.
Winfield (2-5) at Nitro (2-5): The Wildcats' offense seems to be more consistent, as they've tallied at least 17 points in every game, while the Generals have scored a total of three TDs in four of their losses. A battle of 1,000-yard passers in Nitro's Chris Moody (1,406 yards, nine TDs) and Winfield's Toby Show (1,026 yards, six touchdowns).
Woodrow Wilson (5-3) at Riverside (1-6): The Warriors knocked off the playoff-bound Flying Eagles last year 21-18 in Beckley. Riverside's Marcus Reed is third in the MSAC in receiving (30 catches, 664 yards, seven TDs). Woodrow's speedy Ramon Edwards is an anomaly, averaging 15.8 yards per carry and just 10.4 per catch.
St. Albans (1-7) at Lincoln County (0-7): Points haven't been the problem for the Red Dragons, who average 22 per game, but they have been for the Panthers, who allow 48 per game. Lincoln County won 26-21 last year despite committing seven turnovers and eight penalties.
Poca (2-5) at Wayne (7-0): If the Dots are hopeful that the Pioneers might beat themselves, they might want to think again. Wayne is plus-13 in turnover ratio, has lost just nine fumbles in seven games and last week threw only its second interception over its last 16 games. The Pioneers haven't scored less than 42 points in any game.
Sherman (1-6) at Sissonville (3-4): If the Indians want a shot at a playoff berth, they probably need to run the table against the Tide, Poca and Braxton County. Sissonville's Jarrett Mowrer ran for 258 yards and two TDs versus Sherman last year in a 28-13 win as Trent Stowers sat out the game.
Herbert Hoover (1-7) at Roane County (4-3): The Raiders, who beat the Huskies last year 48-10, are one of six teams on Hoover's schedule currently sporting a winning record - and the other four can all still finish .500. Hoover's Joey Forbes has kicked a point in 15 consecutive games and caught a pass in 10 straight.
Fayetteville (0-7) at Buffalo (6-1): This has certainly been an out-of-the-ordinary year for the winless Pirates, who hold a 7-6 lead over the Bison since their series resumed in 1998. Last year, Fayetteville won in overtime 27-26 despite 219 yards and four TDs passing by Buffalo's Levi Jordan.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.