By Dave Morrison

A staple of the Fayetteville program has always been to play a tough schedule.

“We don’t schedule games to pick up points and we don’t dodge anyone either,” coach Dave Moneypenny said. “It’s been that way at Fayetteville since (long-time coach) Frank Spangler arrived (in the mid-70s). We will play anybody at anytime.”

Lately Fayetteville has scrimmaged Class A power St. Marys every year.

They’ve played nearby Route 19 rival Class AA Oak Hill. Perennial Class AA playoff team Nicholas.

And this week, the Pirates further back that statement when they travel to Wheeling to take on defending state champion Wheeling Central.

You know the numbers.

Mike Young’s Maroon Knights are 3-0, outscoring opponents by a combined 135-7. Central is averaging unbelievable balance with 205.7 yards passing and 271.7 yards rushing and they have scored 20 touchdowns.

Quarterback Curtis McGhee III is 33 for 46 passing for 609 yards (13.2 yards per attempt) with eight touchdown passes and one interceptions.

Five players have at least 121 yards – McGhee (213), Vinny Mangino (153), Jordan Waterhouse (148), Braden Price (137 yards) and Jacob Rine (121).

Junior Adam Murray, the reigning Huff Award winner (top defensive player in the state) is averaging 11.3 tackles and has 10 tackles for a loss of yardage.

The Pirates are led by Jordan Dempsey, a four-year starter who last week surpassed 3,000 yards rushing (3,176 yards).

Dempsey leads the area in rushing with 689 yards on 70 carries (9.8 yards per carry) and 12 rushing touchdowns. He has 13 touchdowns overall.

First-year starting quarterback Logan Frantz has transitioned well from receiver with 353 yards in the run game. The two are the top duo in the area in terms of rushing.

Frantz has completed 12 of 20 passes for 91 yards.

Eli Sedlock has 111 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.

Moneypenny said the game with Wheeling Central was easy to schedule.

“We needed a game and they needed a game so I called them,” Moneypenny said. “We will play anybody at anytime. It’s pretty easy for teams around here to play St. Mary’s and Wheeling Central. All they need to do is call them. I feel like it makes us better for sure.”

Keep in mind that other than East Hardy last season in an early season game, Fayetteville was the last team to beat the Maroon Knights, 27-20 in Fayetteville in the Class A quarterfinals.

Midland Trail (4-0) at Valley (0-4)

This will be the final installment of Fayette County rivalry that goes back to 1978 when both programs were double-A.

Valley is closing at the end of the school year.

Obviously the two teams are headed in different directions in more than one way.

No. 3 Midland Trail has been an offensive juggernaut averaging close to 500 yards per game.

But the fact that Valley has a program at all his earned the respect of Midland Trail coach Frank Isaacs and his squad. He knows many of the would-be players have already left the program.

“Valley is in a tough situation and it’s not fair to those kids,” Isaacs said. “Their coaches (Warrix Smith and his assistants) have done a phenomenal job just getting a team on the field. All the credit in the world goes to those guys. That alone has earned out respect.”

Valley is led by Kaleb Crisp, a definite bright spot with 199 yards rushing  and a touchdown and five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.

The young Hounds have struggled with only 513 yards of total offense. Midland Trail has 505 yards passing and averages 479 yards of offense a game.

The Patriots have a dual threat in quarterback Austin Isaacs. The senior has completed 24 of 45 for 505 yards and seven touchdowns. He has 421 yards rushing and six touchdowns. He averages 126.3 yards passing and 105.3 rushing.

The backfield is deep and talented led by Morgan Ferris (275 yards), Colton Yoder (261), Nathan Hanshew (232) and Cordell Lesher (216 in three games on offense).

Isaacs isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s not hard (to get up for the game), we are all playing a game,” Isaacs said. “Those kids from Valley are trying their best. I’ve told our kids to go play hard and continue to earn respect.”

Defensively for Trail, Lesher has 47 tackles (11.8 per game), Hunter Jones has four sacks and Johnathan Starks two interceptions.

Meadow Bridge (3-1) is idle this week.