By Dave Morrison
OAK HILL – It’s not hard to figure the importance of Oak Hill’s game against Midland Trail Friday night. Not where the postseason is concerned.
Win and the Devils are likely to make the playoffs, if they take care of Westside the following week. Lose and Oak Hill (6-2) is on the outside looking in at the postseason and will need a lot of help to make it to the playoffs.
“We are approaching the game as a must-win if we want to stay alive for a playoff berth,” Oak Hill coach Jason Blankenship said.
Oak Hill’s last playoff appearance was 2013, where the Devils fell to George Washington in overtime in a Class AAA playoff game. The Red Devils last Class AA playoff berth was 2003.
Class AA No. 3 Midland Trail’s playoff picture is a little more clear. A win over Oak Hill would guarantee a couple of home games for the Patriots, providing they beat Roane County (3-5). Even a loss at Oak Hill won’t put Trail (8-0) on the road for the first round if it beats Class AA Roane County.
That contest will be the last regular-season home game for Midland Trail’s senior class, which is 29-11 in four years , including 18-2 in the last two years. The losses to Nicholas and Summers County (in the playoffs).
Both team’s strike balance offensively, even though Midland Trail only attempted two passes last week against Fayetteville in a 26-10 victory.
Trail had just three possessions in the first half in that game and quarterback Austin Isaacs was dinged near the end of the first half. He is OK but has been hampered by the stomach flu earlier this week.
“The Fayetteville game was strange all the way around,” Trail coach Frank Isaacs said. “We had limited possessions in both halves so we didn’t get to do much.”
Oak Hill offers a bigger, stronger faster test, led by quarterback Khori Bass and hybrid back-receiver Abe Farrow, who leads the area in scoring, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
Bass is 14th in the area among rushers with 754 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Bass is also fifth in the area in passing with 976 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has completed 60.6 percent of this passes (57 of 94) and is averaging 10.4 yards per attempt.
Farrow is No. 11 in the area with 798 yards and had 11 touchdowns. He is averaging 14 yards per carry. Farrow also has 29 receptions for an area-best 790 yards and 13 touchdowns. He averages 27.2 yards per catch. He is just below pace for a rare 1,000 rushing/1,000 receiving season.
Farrow has 1,588 yards total offense and is averaging 18.4 yards per touch.
Logan Lawhorn has rushed for 281 yards and three touchdown. Aaron Peerce had 223 yards and four TD but is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Oak HIll is averaging 272 yards rushing per game and 131.3 per game passing for 403.9 yards per game total offense.
“We are excited about the opportunity to face off against such a great offense,” Isaacs said. “I think it’s going to be a great game. We have to be more physical than they are.”
Likewise, Midland Trail possesses a potent running attack, averaging 345.3 yards on the ground.
Auston Issacs leads the way with 805 yards and nine touchdowns. Morgan Ferris has 612 yards and three scores, Cordell Lesher 536 and 12 touchdowns and Nathan Hanshew 395 yards and a score.
Isaacs has added 907 through the air, completing 46 of 94 passes with 11 touchdowns and just one interception.
“Midland Trail has a real good run game with three capable backs in Hanshew, Ferris and Lesher plus a dual-threat quarterback in Isaacs,” Blankenship said. They do a good job formation-wise, making you adjust so you don’t get outnumbered. We have to keep our offense on the field as much as possible and limit Midland Trail’s possession.”
Despite being separated by just 16 miles of US Route 19 highway, the two teams have faced off just once. Trail beat Oak Hill 34-17 last season. Oak Hill has spent a lot of years as a Class AAA team, Trail has been Class A over a decade.