Williamstown hosts Summers in playoff opener Saturday

Photo courtesy of Neal Smith Williamstown’s Donathan Taylor (5) carries the ball during a high school football game against Doddridge County earlier this season in West Union, W.Va.

WILLIAMSTOWN — There won’t be a three-and-a-half hour trip to Baker for Williamstown’s opening round game of the 2018 postseason. An eight-game winning streak sandwiched between the Yellowjackets only two losses earned the Class A power at least one playoff contest on their homefield, a fact pleasing to head coach Terry Smith.

“I think it is a good thing for us we are hosting,” said Smith, whose team dropped just one contest among the home crowd this season, a 33-0 loss to Wheeling Central in the opener. “I also think from looking at Summers County they are feeling pretty good about themselves. They have won seven in a row and we will have our hands full. This won’t be a blowout.”

A stout defense capable of adjustments to multiple opponents’ formations and personnel groupings has been the catalyst during the 11th-seeded Bobcats’ run. The unit allowed opponents one or no scores in the past six games.

“They bring a five or six-man front when you try to run,” said Smith, who watched tape of his team’s opponent Sunday morning. “Our job is to try and pass when they think we are going to run and vice versa.”

Chris Vicars’ team’s making of crucial adjustments must continue if the Bobcats wish to advance to the second round. Williamstown brings a balanced offensive attack to the field capable of doing what Smith hopes they can do come 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Quarterback Carter Haynes finished the season with 15 touchdown passes to four interceptions with 1,171 passing yards, while Donathan Taylor ran for over 1,000 yards with 15 trips to the end zone. Eric Brown and Mason Deem combined for 49 receptions for 842 yards along with nine scoring catches.

The ‘Jackets are hungry to rid themselves of a 14-7 loss to Doddridge County two weeks ago as well. The process began with what Smith called a “good” bye-week and a fully healthy squad.

Not to be outdone, Vicars’ group can run and throw the football with equal success as well. Summers is fairly balanced with 1,800 yards rushing and 1,550 yards passing as a team. The Bobcats’ head man feels this balance is critical to keep the Yellowjackets off-kilter.

Senior quarterback Timmy Persiani has thrown for those 1,550 yards and 22 touchdowns. Most of those have gone to 6-foot-4 Christian Pack, sophomore KeAndre Sarver, who comes in off solid performances in the past weeks, and leading receiver in slot man Sam Wykle. Wykle has 40 catches for 700 yards.

Running back Marcus McGuire also ran for over 1,300 yards for the Bobcats.

“I like what we can do offensively,” said Vicars.

Smith said generating a pass rush has to happen to make the senior quarterback feel uncomfortable. Lineman Kyle Kitchen, Leewood Molessa, Skylar Blatt, and Ryan Brown have done a solid job getting to the quarterback when called upon. Brown (4 sacks) and Kitchen (3) lead the unit in QB takedowns.

“We have to pick our spots though,” said Smith. “We can’t leave him isolated all game or let him out of the pocket, but if we blitz too much they can burn us with big plays.”

Vicars squad also brings plenty of playoff experience with them to the matchup. Summers advanced to the Class A semifinals one season ago, running into a resurgent Wheeling Central team who ended its season, 39-6. Overall, this is the fourth postseason trip in as many years for the Bobcats. They bring respect for one of the top programs in the classification as well.

“Certainly you know you are going to face a tough test and a really good football program,” said Vicars during an interview at the WVSSAC meeting Sunday in Parkersburg. “They are well coached. They have kids who are always in the right spot and they play hard. It is a challenge for our kids and I think they will come out and play hard and be competitive. We will just see what happens and see if we can make some plays on them.”