NAUGATUCK, W.Va. – Friday night the Tug Valley High School football tema will welcome the Tolsia Rebels for a big Route 52 showdown.
Both teams are fresh off of winning games and both teams bring big running attacks to the match.
The Panthers have been giving crowds a show this season with big time performances from rush heavy offense. Dawson Elia has stepped into the role of the Panthers lead back and is exceeding expectations.
The Panthers will face a well-balanced team who they will match up well with. This will be a very even game if both teams give it their best shot, which should be the expectation given the history of these two teams.
The Panthers have had back-to-back playoff appearances in the Class A tournament and are shooting for a third appearance this year.
Tolsia was the Class AA state runner-up last year and has dropped down to Class A. The Rebels have one loss this year and that was at the hands of Mingo Central in Week 2. The Panthers have one loss this season and that was Week 1 at the hands of Sherman.
Both teams lost some hard to replace talent to graduation last year and both teams are leaning on new players in key positions to make the season great.
Also, both teams are relying on first year quarterbacks to help guide them through the season. Tug Valley made the decision during the preseason to move Johnathan Blankenship from WR/RB to QB for his junior year. Blankenship has experience playing the role but was third in line during the 2015 season. Blankenship has done well this season and has the ability to excel at the position on any given Friday.
Tolsia handed over the QB responsibility from Seth McMillion to junior Wayne Williamson Jr. Williamson Jr. has plenty of arm to heave the ball down field and some good targets to work with. During Tolsia’s one loss of the season they did well on defense and played with the Miners decently. Their problem was containing all of the Miners playmakers and trying to outscore the miners which anyone in the Cardinal Conference will say is no easy task.
The Tolsia defense will face an offense that has been running over, through, and around all teams they have met to this point. Even in the Panthers week one loss they still produced 260 yards rushing on 45 rushing plays. In order to beat Tug Valley and their fierce rushing attack the smart play may be to just outscore them than to hold them to nothing which no team has been able to do so far.
The Tolsia running game is just as speedy and powerful which was seen against Mingo Central when the Rebels put up 306 yards of total offense with 268 yards rushing.
Senior running back Logan Presley and junior running back Johnathan Johnson are the two main backs. The Rebels rushing attack can be attributed to a big offensive line. Jeb Evans and Cameron Nichols are the two most goliath players on the line who strike intimidation with their size alone. The Rebels bring a veteran and experienced line to the match.
The Panthers have a good sized line as well and have been able to depend on the offensive line to help push into one of the elite rushing attacks in the in Class A.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)