Cougars get unbeaten Point Pleasant in first round
Jefferson’s football playoff destination is along the far-distance Ohio River. It’s not Huntington. It’s not Wheeling. It’s not Parkersburg.
It’s unbeaten Point Pleasant, a team with a 9-0 record whose two closest games were both against Class AA teams in Wayne and Ravenswood.
When the Cougars brushed past county rival Washington in the regular season finale they fell in the final ratings from 11th to 12th and found No. 5 Point Pleasant in their immediate path. The first-round matchup will be played tomorrow (Nov. 15) at 1:30 p.m. in the river city.
The Cougars completed a 7-3 season and qualified for the school’s first playoff venture since 2005. The last two wins came against Hedgesville and the Patriots and did the Cougars little good because the combined records of those two teams was 1-19.
Even though Point Pleasant and top-ranked Capital were the only two unbeaten Class AAA teams in the state, the Big Blacks were only fifth because of their suspect schedule.
The Class AAA teams Point Pleasant beat were Logan, Ripley, Oak Hill, Shady Spring and Lincoln County. Wayne was tamed, 38-14, and still reached the Class AA playoffs and Ravenswood fell, 37-20, and also qualified for the Class AA postseason. The ninth win came against private school Gallia Academy across the river in Ohio.
Jefferson had its seven wins against Spring Mills, Mountain Ridge (Maryland), Hampshire, Musselman, Millbrook (Virginia), Hedgesville and Washington. The Cougar losses were to Sherando (Virginia), Keyser and Martinsburg — three teams that are in their respective state playoffs.
Four-time defending state champion Martinsburg could finish only fourth in the final ratings even though it had a 9-1 record. Like Jefferson, the Bulldogs were actually hurt by the dismal seasons experienced by area teams Hedgesville and Washington and the few bonus points it received from trouncing Spring Mills.
The remainder of the first-round games played tonight and on Saturday find No. 16 Parkersburg South at No. 1 Capital, No. 15 Parkersburg at No. 2 Cabell Midland, No. 14 Beckley Woodrow Wilson at No. 3 University, No. 13 Buckhannon at No. 4 Martinsburg (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cobourn Field), No. 11 Spring Valley at No. 6 South Charleston, No. 10 Hurricane at No. 7 Huntington and No. 9 Lewis County at No. 8 Wheeling Park.
Point Pleasant allowed a total of only 52 points in its nine games and had shutout wins over Lincoln County, Ripley, Parkersburg South and Shady Spring. It scored 49 or more points in seven of its nine games.
Jefferson relied heavily on its pass offense for most of the season. Wide receiver Christian Johnson, only a junior, set a new state record for touchdown catches and did so even before the last game against Washington was played. Andrew King delivered Johnson’s TD receptions and had other oft-used targets in Will Mazur, Lawrence Morris, Zach Hostler, Craye Nehler and Isaac Myers. Marcus Burns is Coach Craig Hunter’s most-used running threat.
Jefferson’s defense was anchored in linebackers Will Ransom and Phillip Keller. Delonte Berry was among the team leaders in tackles and passes defended.
It’s been nine years since the Cougars landed in the playoffs. And now they must trek across the entire width of the state to see unbeaten Point Pleasant on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Should the Cougars outscore Point Pleasant, they would play the winner of the Buckhannon vs. Martinsburg game in the quarterfinal round.
The state championship games in all three classes will be staged the first weekend in December at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Class AAA title game takes place in the early afternoon on Saturday, Dec. 6.