Long wait over

East Fairmont fullback Phillip Harr (43) drags a Buckhannon defender on his back while gaining extra yardage earlier this season. The Bees are in the playoffs for only the second time in school history.

East Fairmont’s football program has waited way too long for another chance at competing in the Class AAA state playoffs.

Thirty years to be exact.

As it stands right now, the Bees’ playoff history consists of one game — a 33-12 loss to DuPont in 1976.

So don’t think Bill Haddox and Co. are content on simply reaching the playoffs for only the second time in school history.

That’s just not the way this year’s team has approached tonight’s matchup against No. 5 seed Robert C. Byrd (9-1).

“I told the guys Monday that we can’t be satisfied about where we’ve gotten to this point,” junior quarterback Carter DeVault said. “

DeVault didn’t stop there, though.

“East Side has never won a playoff game. So we can accomplish something,” he added. “We know that there are no easy games now. This is our season. And we look forward to getting a win in the playoffs.”

The 12th-seeded Bees (7-3) are coming off a heartbreaking 35-28 loss to cross-town rival West Fairmont last week, which snapped their four-game winning streak.

While that game is a thing of the past, Haddox hopes to use that game as a tune-up for the Flying Eagles.

“I compare them to West Fairmont,” East’s coach said. “They can run the football well, and they can throw the football around.

“(Kyle) Allard makes West a real good football team. He causes problems, where as (RCB’s running) backs cause problems. It’s two different kinds of problems, but the same kind of teams.”

RCB is loaded in the backfield with tailbacks Anthony Spencer and Zach Losh while fullback Matt Britton leads the charge.

Then at quarterback, junior Cody Gilmore has more than filled in adequately for J.J. Mayer. It doesn’t hurt that Gilmore has wide receiver Jordan Griffin to throw the ball to every game.

And with the balance on offense that RCB presents, Haddox knows his defense will have to be on top of its game.

“They have the ability to strike fast. ” he said. “We have our work cut out for us. You don’t go 9-1 without being a pretty good football team.”

As if the Flying Eagles’ offense isn’t tough enough to defend, RCB’s defense is even more impressive to Haddox.

“Defensively, they’re real tough,” he said. “Nobody can seem to score more than one touchdown on them. They go hard after the ball. They’re tough. They’re physical. They have a lot of good players.”

So, too, do the Bees.

Defensively, East is allowing only 15.6 points per game, while the offense averages 30.3 ppg.

DeVault has thrown the second most touchdown passes in the state this year. The right-hander has completed 72-of-148 passes for 1,317 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Derek Sevier has caught the most TD passes in the state, hauling in 16 of DeVault’s 23 scoring throws. The senior wideout has 29 receptions for 568 yards, which is good for 19.6 yards per catch.

Then throw in the “backfield by committee” of DeVault, L.T. Harbert, Blayze Haught, Aaron Moore and Phil Harr, among others, and the Bees feel as though their offense is just as balanced as anyone’s.

“We just have to let the game come to us,” DeVault said. “We have to stick with what we’ve done all year and see how it goes.”

Execution is the key, however.

“We can’t make a lot of mistakes. We can’t miss many assignments And we have to execute real well,” Haddox said. “When we get the opportunity to do something, we have to do it.”

What it all boils down to tonight is the fact that East is back in the playoffs, playing for only the second time in the program’s history.

While being in the Class AAA field of 16 is nice and all, what’s more important is earning the ‘W’ — a first for East’s football program.

“We don’t want to be done right now. We’re not ready to take it easy just yet,” DeVault said. “That’s a big motivation. We have to come out ready to play and wanting to win.”

And as much as a win would mean to the Bees, it would mean even more to everyone associated with East Fairmont High School.

“It’s kind of nice knowing that they’ve accomplished something,” Haddox said. “They earned the right to play with some of the best teams in the state. They like it, and the school is real excited about it.”

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

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