Hawks Down ’Jacks, 53-12
LOST CREEK – Using a quick start and a heavy rushing attack, No. 3 South Harrison eliminated No. 14 Valley, 53-12, in the first round of the West Virginia Class A playoffs on Friday night at Gary Barnette Field.
Speedy tailback Freddie Canary took the opening kick back 89 yards for a touchdown and the Hawks (10-1) scored often on the ground while totaling 376 yards.
“The start was pretty big for us,” South Harrison coach Brad Jett said. “We knew we had to come out and play well. We had a lot of mistakes and jumping out at the beginning was huge. When Freddie got the ball and hit the crease, we knew he was gone. That is two kick returns in three games. Anytime you can set the tone like that is huge.”
After the opening kick, Valley (7-4) quickly responded. Senior quarterback Trey Streets hit classmate Tucker Cain for a 46-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the game to tie it at 6-6. Streets threw two touchdowns, the other a 43-yard strike to Peyton Bassett in the third quarter. He broke Valley’s single-season rushing record with his 66-yard performance to finish with 1,659 yards.
“You are talking about a kid who probably rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his career,” Valley coach Shane Highley said. “And he has probably passed for 2,000 yards and scored 100 touchdowns. That is something that just doesn’t come along very often and you can’t say enough about him. He fought until the end and he will continue to fight.”
Chase Jenkins scored twice on the ground in the first quarter for South Harrison to build a 19-6 lead. Jenkins finished with 100 yards on 13 carries and scored three times.
Trailing 19-6, Valley converted a long pass on a fake punt but it was called back for an illegal man downfield. The Hawks set up shop deep in Lumberjacks territory and cashed in on a Camden Barnette’s 1-yard rush to go ahead 26-6. Barnette had many bruising runs to finish with 178 yards and one score on 18 carries.
“We played hard. The first half they got a couple breaks with the fake punt being called back and I still don’t understand the call,” Highley said. ”We did what we were supposed to do on that play. Say that gets converted and we go down and score make it 19-12 and it’s different ballgame. South Harrison is big and physical, just a good team right there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing in Wheeling in December.”
The Lumberjacks could not muster up any more momentum for the rest of the half and the Hawks tacked on another score when quarterback Ian Riggleman hit Nathaniel Fernandez on a 30-yard pass.
Canary, Jenkins, and Austin Barkergresser all added touchdown runs in the second half for the Hawks. South Harrison will welcome No. 11 St. Marys next week in a matchup the Hawks won in the regular season.
“We have some work to do on the ground,” Jett said. “We are still not moving people off the ball the way we want. It’s going to be St. Marys coming back in so we will have to come off the ball like we did down there. We still have work to do and haven’t peaked yet which is a good thing.”
Streets finished 9 of 23 for 151 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Dylan Irvin caught four passes for 53 yards while Cain had two grabs for 54 yards and Bassett caught two for 51 yards. It was the first postseason appearance for Valley since 2004 and the program will be losing 11 seniors.
“I am proud of these guys,” Highley said. “I told these underclassmen this is not how we wanted it to end but this is just the beginning and getting this program built back up.”