The playoffs actually start Friday night for the Wheeling Park and Parkersburg South football teams when they square off in a Battle of Patriots.
Fresh off bye weeks, both clubs have 5-3 records and anticipate they must win out to earn invitations to the West Virginia Class AAA postseason party.
''We are in the same boat," agreed Wheeling Park Coach Chris Daugherty.
'Doc's' Ohio County Patriots enter game nine on their schedule ranked 17th while Coach John Bolen's team tied for 14th. The top 16 teams in each of the Mountain State's three classes qualify for the playoffs.
Bolen, incidentally, has Ohio Valley ties. He played on three of Sistersville High School's powerhouse teams that dominated West Virginia single-A football for several years in the 1970s.
''Just like us, Parkersburg South is very explosive," Daugherty continued. ''Both of our teams have more than one or two kids that can turn a four or 5-yard play into a 65-yard touchdown in a hurry.''
When Wheeling Park takes the field Friday night it will be staring across the line at several familiar faces, specifically South quarterback Tyler Bolen (6-foot-2, 186) and running backs Jordan Quiocho (5-6, 150) and Logan Cox (6-3, 200).
Bolen, son of Parkersburg South's head coach, is having another impressive season throwing the football with 83 completions in 158 attempts for 1,282 yards, eight touchdowns and just four interceptions. Bolen entered his bye week second one the area list of ''big school'' passers to St. Clairsville's highly regarded QB Matt Kinnick.
The last time Cox played in a football game, the senior dazzler rushed for four touchdowns and 165 yards on nine carries as South rolled past Brooke 53-27. For the season, Cox rushing totals show 434 yards and five TDs on 44 carries.
Quiocho leads the Wood County Patriots in rushing with 623 yards and five touchdowns.
''I'm a little tired of looking at those guys," Daugherty joked. ''It seems like they've been around for four or five years. Parkersburg South has a good senior-dominated team that Coach Bolen has been building for this season. I know they've battled through some injuries but if they win the next two they'll still get their chance at doing something in the playoffs."
Obviously, Daugherty has the same kind of plans for his Patriots, which would prevent Parkersburg South from making the big dance.
The Ohio County club has played especially well in recent games, having scored 191 points during the last four contests.
The only loss during this span was the hard-fought 42-39 setback against Morgantown.
Park's last game, two weeks ago saw it spot previously once-beaten Elkins an early 10-0 lead before rallying to win 35-24.
Three juniors, the electrifying duo of Bryce Ingram and Eric Banks along with quarterback Zach Phillips have been putting up some impressive numbers for the visiting Patriots. Ingram's recent play elevated his season rushing totals to 863 yards and 12 touchdowns .
Banks continues to excel since being shifted to a wideout spot with his 27 catches for 481 yards and six TDs, while Phillips has now completed 65 of 109 pass attempts for 990 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
Park also is getting good production out of kicker Llam Casey with 40 points, including two field goals and 34 extra points.
Daugherty is hoping the bye won't interrupt his team's offensive roll.
''Timing can be a problem after taking a week off," he said.''But we've tried to do some different things to keep that from happening. Usually during a break like this we work on a lot of individual drills but we spent more time on team drills.
''Our kids are coming around, I was happy about the way he handled adversity after falling behind at Elkins. That was a big win for us on the road under those circumstances. Hopefully, we can keep it going this week.''