Just because the end of the high school football season is near and teams know the playoffs are out of the question and basketball and wrestling season are set to begin, doesn't mean that there is nothing left to play for.
Wetzel County rivals Paden City and Valley, both struggling through tough 1-8 seasons, will do battle Friday night in Pine Grove with both teams looking to break losing streaks and pick up a victory against a team that each dearly wants defeat.
Coach Brent Croasmun has struggled all season long to keep enough healthy bodies on the field for the Wildcats, who have lost four games in a row and are coming off a 48-6 rout at the hands of Beallsville last week. Meanwhile, depth and youth have played a factor for Coach Tom West's Lumberjacks who fell to Doddridge County, 35-6, a week ago and have dropped six straight.
Friday night's game could also be a very quick one if you are a fan looking to get home quickly. Neither team normally features the passing game and both have looked to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible.
Sophomore Brandon Cross leads the Wildcats, having rushed for 864 yards and nine touchdowns after racking up 107 yards against the Blue Devils last Friday. It was a game in which the outcome was decided early with Beallsville putting up 34 first-quarter points, three via touchdown passes, one on an interception return and another by punt return.
If, and when, Paden City does go to the air, it puts the ball in the hands of sophomore quarterback Zach Heasley.
Valley's main weapon on offense may not kill you with his speed, but he can bull you over with his power. Spencer Mason, 6-foot, 305 pounds, has plowed his way for 823 yards and nine scores, and is also coming off a 100-yard performance, gaining 113 a week ago. The biggest difference is the fact that the 'Jacks have a second option in freshman Trey Streets, who has rushed for 653 yards and seven scores on the campaign.
"They have a strong running attack and there is no question we will have to stop both Mason and Street if we want to have any chance to win," Croasmun said.
Sophomore Hayden Lancaster will hand them both the football, but could also be called upon to throw it if necessary.
West's team has also struggled on defense during its losing streak, as might be expected, allowing at least 28 points in each of those setbacks.
Each of the last three games in the series has been very competitive, with the Lumberjacks winning all three by scores of 28-22, 26-6 and 15-6.