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Football Lookahead: Plenty on Line for Wheeling Central vs. Spring Mills

November 7, 2013
By DAVE MORRISON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Wheeling Central has been in plenty of tight games.

Each held its own importance.

The fact remains, the Maroon Knights are 5-4.

There are variables that led to the less-than-anticipated mark.

Quarterback Parker Henry was lost midway through the schedule with another ACL tear. He was one of many that went down.

The schedule was again a bear, and make no mistake, Central pulled victory from the jaws of defeat on more than one occasion.

That brings the Maroon Knights to this: A trip to the Eastern Panhandle to face first-year school Spring Mills in a game of ultimate importance.

Win, and a postseason berth is theirs.

"Our goal is always the same, make the postseason and win a state championship," coach Mike Young said. "That never changes."

Winning eight small school titles in 13 years entitles a team to think just that.

So despite the 5-4 record, and two straight losses, the Knights still have their goal in sight.

On paper, beating Spring Mills would seem well within reach, despite the fact that it's a Class AAA school. The Cardinals, who do not have a senior class in this, its first year of existence, are made up of students between Martinsburg and Hedgesville. That, alone, would seem like a cause for alarm, with Martinsburg being the three-time defending Class AAA state champion juggernaut.

Most of the football players are still at Martinsburg.

The Cardinals' lone victory came against Clear Springs, Md., 21-14. In its other eight games, Spring Mills has been outscored 441-40, and has been shut out three times.

Young, though, saw it a different way.

"It's like I tell our kids, there are no freshmen, sophomores and juniors at this point in the season," the coach said. "At this point, there are only sophomores, juniors and seniors."

Except for at Central, there are freshmen, who, because of injury, are making an impact.

None more so than quarterback Isaac Rine.

He was playing in spots before Henry went down, but now has inherited the job, and he has run - and passed - with it.

In last week's loss to Donahue, Rine ran for 107 yards and threw for 121. His 39-yard touchdown pass that tied the game was to fellow freshman John Burkhalter, who caught three passes for 85 yards. Another freshman, Dillon Baker, recovered a fumble.

"We're proud of the job our young kids have done," Young said. "They are getting better each week. They have stepped up and answered the bell."

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