By Mike DeFabo and Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
On paper, this week’s game looks like a slam dunk for Fairmont Senior.
The Polar Bears (5-2, 4-1 Big 10) are coming off a decisive 52-6 rout of Braxton. Meanwhile, Buckhannon-Upshur (2-6) enters the game as losers of four straight.
While the records suggest that Fairmont Senior will run away with another blowout victory, these same facts are what worry Polar Bears coach J.L. Abbott the most when his Bears host the Bucs at 7:30 p.m. at East-West Stadium.
“When you don’t have anything to lose, you can let it all hang out,” he said.
The key to avoiding an upset, Abbott said, is going to be stopping the run. Bucs running back Seth Cutright leads the team with over 600 total yards of offense to go along with eight touchdowns.
He’ll do most of his running behind 6-foot-2, 220-pound fullback Phillip Petrulak.
“They’ve got some dogs,” Abbott affectionately said of the two players. “We’ve just got to show up and play.”
Those dogs also have a trick or two up their sleeves. The Bucs’ playbook includes a hook-and-lateral, reverses and reverse passes.
“We’ve got to just do our assignments and stay home,” Abbott said.
The Polar Bears will celebrate senior night at the game where they will honor 16 players. Abbott said it would mean something special to send them off with a win, but he’s reminded his team it won’t come easily. These “dogs” won’t roll over.
“Buckhannon doesn’t show it in the win column, but they’re battle-tested. They’re going to come in and give us a game,” he said. “We’ve got a big group of seniors we’d like to send out with a win”
North Marion’s football season hasn’t exactly turned out the way the team hoped. But that doesn’t mean the Huskies are backing down.
“This isn't the season we planed on having,” said Huskies’ wide receiver Chase Banker. “We’ve always been doubted. But to come away with the last two wins would be great.”
To accomplish that goal, the Huskies (1-7, 1-6 Big 10) will have to their work cut out for them when they host Lincoln (5-2, 3-1 Big 10) at Husky Field.
The Cougars boast one of the most potent offenses in the conference. It features the conference’s top passer, second-leading rusher, third-leading receiver and fifth-leading receiver.
Quarterback Jarrod Kellar is the catalyst of the offense, throwing for more than 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Banker said making the junior signal-caller uncomfortable will be crucial if the Huskies are going to keep the Cougars in check.
“We’ve got to keep some pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “He’s got a cannon.”
As for shutting down the receivers, Banker will take on that responsibility. He said he will shadow Dillon O’Dell, who has 36 catches for 880 yards this year.
“I’m going to lock down on (O’Dell),” he said. “Hopefully we can keep them in check.”
East Fairmont (1-6) will travel this week to take on winless Grafton (0-6-1).
After dropping a game to Preston, East coach Bill Haddox admitted that he could see some similarities in his team's previous opponent and the next one up.
“They play real well in spurts," Haddox said of Grafton. "They play a little like Preston but also a little like us. They haven’t won, but they’re a decent team."
In the same sense, Grafton uses a few different running backs and has a balanced passing attack, much like the Bees.
East Fairmont's Matt Hopwood is still nursing a high ankle sprain, but Haddox said he should be ready to go by Friday.
“Any time you have a high ankle sprain, it’s hard to get better," Haddox said of the ongoing issue.
The Bees will also be without running back and wide receiver Ronnie Mills this week, and will be looking for other players to step up.
“Sometimes things happen, but that’s one of the rules of the game,” Haddox said of Mills, who will have to sit out after being ejected from last week’s game. “We’ll just have to replace him. He's one of our best players. It hurts when he's out.”
One of the players who will need to step up, on both sides, is Jake Delaney.
“He's gotten better the past two games,” Haddox said of Delaney, who threw for over 450 yards and four touchdowns last week. “He still plays young at times, but he’s doing a lot better. He’s had more good than bad lately. We’re able to put points on the board with Jake.”
East's only victory this season is over Liberty, which tied with Grafton last week.
Haddox is hoping to have the same success as his team had over Liberty to start the season.
“We’re going to just keep adjusting,” he said. “We're going to put our best together and try to get the win.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.