HUNTINGTON (WCHS/WVAH) - When the Huntington Highlanders finished the regular season undefeated and opened the playoffs as the top seed in the AAA bracket, head coach Billy Seals knew his team had a chance at getting to Wheeling Island. Before they can do so, they'll need to beat MSAC rival and 2016 AAA runner-up Spring Valley
"They're really good on defense. In my opinion it's the best defense they've had since I've been here. Very physical, run the ball well, it's a big task for our team. Those guys come to work every week and understand we have to play really well to win," head coach Billy Seals said.
So far the Highlanders have stuck to their winning game plan. Kennedy award nominee Jadon Hayes might have just had his best performance of the season last week, going for 285 rushing yards and scoring all four of Huntington's touchdowns in their 28-27 win over Hurricane.
"I'm telling you that kid's a special football player," Seals said.
"The offensive line did absolutely great. Got off their blocks well. The wide receivers blocked well. On the long runs the receivers have to block well and I just read the holes right," running back Jadon Hayes said.
Still, the Timberwolves fully understand what's on the line, and after getting sent home last year by Martinsburg in the Final, Spring Valley is looking for a return to Wheeling Island and that's start with stopping Huntington's rush attack.
"We're going to have to play a perfect game and stop Jadon Hayes. Up front have to block them and dominate upfront," SV defensive lineman Doug Nester said.
"Jadon is a phenomenal player and we're going to have to slow him down in the run game and take care of business. They've got athletes all over the place," Spring Valley defensive back Josh Pennington said."
Both teams met in the second week of the season, and the Highlanders won 14-0. And Timberwolves head coach Brad Dingess says they're a different team from then but still need to find a way to score
"We can't turn it over. We had a few turnovers last time and can't' do that. We have to sustain some long drives and keep the ball away from them," Dingess said.
Kickoff is set Friday night at 7:30.