CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wayne and Bridgeport haven't met since 2000, but each has a feel for what's coming when they lock up at 7:30 tonight in the Class AA championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The No. 1 Pioneers (13-0), riding a 36-game winning streak that equals the state's all-time record, seek their third consecutive title and fourth overall, while the second-seeded Indians (12-1) gun for their seventh crown and first since 2000.
Bridgeport won that last meeting between the teams in the 2000 state finals 14-6 running out of its familiar stick-I offense, and that's the same formation the Indians will use tonight, with all the backs arranged in a straight line directly behind the quarterback.
Wayne coach Tom Harmon realizes his team will see a steady diet of running plays from either tailback Anthony Bonamico or quarterback Anthony Caldera. Bridgeport has attempted only 46 passes in 13 games.
"They've tweaked some things with the way they go about it,'' Harmon said, "and had success with it. It's one of those things where they haven't sold their soul or anything like that with what they've traditionally done, but just a few wrinkles to make it a little bit tougher.
"You know you're going to be playing good teams this time of year - you just have to stop it.''
Wayne's counterpart for the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Bonamico (2,079 yards, 32 touchdowns) is junior Mason Hodge, who's in line for his second consecutive spot on the all-state first team.
The 6-1, 235-pound Hodge has gained 1,420 yards on the ground with 17 TDs and also leads the Pioneers' staunch defensive unit from his linebacker position.
Wayne's defense allows just 217 total yards per game, has forced 37 turnovers and hasn't allowed a touchdown in the first quarter all season. The lone first-period TD by an opponent came on a kickoff return.
"I think he's really effective on both sides of the ball,'' said Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner of Hodge. "Defensively, he's a big, physical player and plays with a lot of aggressiveness and a lot of emotion.
"I have no problem saying they're a team that feeds off him, as well as the [Nathan] Spurlock kid. It's very, very easy to see - and you don't have to watch a lot of film to see - why they've won all these games and all these championships. It's a good game for our program.''
Spurlock is second in rushing for the Pioneers (723 yards, 10 TDs).
Wayne has welcomed back another first-team all-stater, junior quarterback Grant Ferguson, who sat out the first two playoff games with an ankle injury. Ferguson threw for 249 yards and a pair of TDs against Robert C. Byrd in last week's semifinals.