By Dave Morrison
When the first SSAC ratings came out last week, three area teams sat atop the Class A ratings – Mount View, Midland Trail and Fayetteville.
Of course it was the first ratings release and a lot will change between now and November.
Do these teams have a shot being near the top in two months?
Business is about to pick up.
Fayetteville faces the toughest trek to the postseason.
The Pirates go to defending Class A champion Wheeling Central this week. No easy task there.
Other than East Hardy last fall (10-7) Fayetteville was the last state team to knock off Maroon Knights in the playoff quarterfinals in 2016 (27-20).
Fayetteville also faces No. 1 Mount View and No. 2 and rival Midland Trail coming up, big games for the Pirates, playing their final fall of football before the school closes at the end of the school year.
The game against Midland Trail will be Fayetteville’s last regular-season home game, potentially the last home game ever for the Pirates.
Sherman, Norte Dame and Summers are also on the schedule.
It’s a formidable finish for Fayetteville and they will be well tested if they can navigate the treacherous schedule and make the postseason.
Mount View, the top-rated team in the state in Class A, finally gets to play a home game this week after winning four straight on the road. Webster County makes the trek to Welch.
Tolsia, the aforementioned Fayetteville game and Greenbrier West also travel to Welch and the Golden Knights go to Tug Valley and PikeView.
Midland Trail has easily beaten its for opponents (Independence, Greenbrier West Meadow Bridge or Richwood by a combined 142-36) and faces winless Valley, one-win Westside and winless Liberty in the next three weeks before undefeated county rival Fayetteville and Oak Hill appear. Trail finishes with Roane County (1-2).
Mount View and Midland Trail have featured a balanced offense and a strong defense in its 4-0 start.
*The Golden Knights have rushed for 999 yards and sophomore quarterback Jesse Rose has 515 of the team’s 525 passing yards.
The Knights average 381 yards per game, the ground game led by one of the area’s top rushers in Elijah Barner (542 yards, five touchdowns). He is averaging 10 yards per carry and the Knights average 7.8 per carry as a team.
Marqus Ray is a big-play guy at receiver, with eight catches for 345 yards and six touchdowns.
Mount View’s defense has been impressive as well, giving up just 9.3 points per game. Barner averages 9.3 tackles, had eight tackles for a loss and two sacks. Micah McGlaughlin and Ty Powell average seven tackles and have a combined 10 tackles for a loss. Jasuani Sizemore averages 7.5 tackles. Mount View has 41 tackles for a loss as a team and eight sacks (Barner and Kamal Collins with two each).
*Midland Trail has been nothing short of an offense juggernaut. The numbers are staggering.
Senior quarterback Austin Isaacs is the top dual-threat quarterback and is worth a double triple every time he takes the field, averaging 105.3 yards rushing (421 yards, 6 TD) and 128.8 yards passing (505 yards and 7 TD).
But he is just the tip of the iceberg for the Trail offense, which averages 506.8 yards total offense and 1,411 yards rushing.
The Patriots have quartet of running backs with at least 26 carries and 216 yards – Morgan Ferris (35-275), Colton Yoder (27-261-2), Nathan Hanshew (26-232-0) and Cordell Lesher (30-216-3).
That group has accounted for 978 yards rushing and averages 8.3 yards per carry.
Trail is also giving up just nine points per game on defense.
*Fayetteville has the area’s top duo in area leading rusher and scorer Jordan Dempsey (689 yards and 13 touchdowns for 78 points) and quarterback Logan Frantz (353 yards and five touchdowns).
The Pirates’ two-headed monster has combined for 79 percent of the team’s rushing yardage, 74 percent of the team’s scoring and have 18 of the team’s 20 rushing touchdowns this season.
If there is an apparent Achilles Heel it is the passing game. The Pirates haven;t really had to pass and Frantz has 91 passing yards.
Of the three squads Fayetteville has the top kicker in WonYoung Hwang, who has 16 extra points and two field goals.