By Dave Morrison
PRINCETON – In a season of surprise and change, one thing has remained constant. Bluefield and Princeton are going to throw the football and the Beavers and Tigers are going to throw it well.
Both teams returned a quarterback who threw for over 2,000 yards a season ago.
Bluefield’s Carson Deeb led the area in passing yardage (2,835) and touchdown passes (34). He threw for 940 yards and 12 touchdowns in the postseason as Bluefield advanced to its third straight Class AA state championship game (losing to Bridgeport 21-14).
Princeton’s Grant Cochran led the area in passing yards per game (223.8) after taking over the reins in Week 2 his freshman year due to an injury to starter Ransom Graham.
The Class AA No. 1 Beavers will travel to Class AAA No. 12 Princeton Friday night at 7 p.m.
Interestingly enough, this is the second meeting of the season between the two teams, due to the strange scheduling scenarios presented by the Covid-19 pandemic
Bluefield (2-0) won that game 15-13, coming back from an early 13-0 deficit.
“Probably not the way we would have drawn it up, but hey, welcome to 2020,” Princeton coach Chris Pedigo said. “Our kids are grateful for a second chance. More than that, we are thankful to just be playing.”
Interestingly enough, nether quarterback had a typical night. Deeb threw for 181 yards and Cochran threw for 133.
Maybe that’s because both teams plenty of work against the pass in practice, being that they are passing teams.
“I think it does help us since we like to throw the ball,” Pedigo said. “But it’s hard to emulate the speed that Bluefield has in practice.”
Actually the running games came to the fore in that first meeting at Mitchell Stadium.
Shawn Mitchell rushed for 131 yards and a score for the Beavers and Jacob Brown had the other on his only carry from six yards out. Jackson Wills had what proved to be the winning field goal in the third quarter.
Amir Powell had a big game for Princeton with 150 yards and two touchdowns. He’s off to a great start this season with 313 yards and four touchdowns.
“I want to make my team an all-around team,” Powell said in the preseason. “We can pass the ball with Grant Cochran at our quarterback. But I want to be able to make us mobile on the ground.”
He has done that.
Which was Pedigo’s plan all along.
“Amir has been a leader in the weight room since he got here,” Pedigo said. Last year he had an opportunity to split reps and his play led us to let him get the majority of the reps.”
Powell had 500 yards rushing last year (Princeton had 800 rushing yards) and five of the Tigers’ eight rushing touchdowns.
“The development of our offensive line has been a welcomed addition early on this season,” Pedigo added. “We knew going into this season that we would have to be better running the football for us to be successful.”
Still you know these teams will throw.
Bluefield has thrown the ball 52..2 percent of the time and are averaging 227.5 yards throw the air per game. Last week in a 48-2 victory against Woodrow, Deeb threw for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Ryker Brown was 5 of 9 for 59 yards and a score.
Juwan Green has 11 receptions for 122 yards, Brandon Wiley nine for 114 and two touchdowns.
Princeton strikes a balance, running 51 percent of the time. But 55.8 percent of the offense is through the air. Cochran is 26 of 47 passing for 414 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for 281 yards last week in a 34-14 win over Parkersburg South.
Ethan Parsons has 10 receptions for 168 yards. Josiah Honaker has been a factor in all three phases of the game for 1-1 Princeton.
PHOTO: Bluefield’s Carson Deeb, the area’s leading passer last season, threw for four touchdowns against Woodrow Wilson last week.