By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Beavers football coach Fred Simon says each year he does not worry about where the Beavers are seeded in the playoffs, the main thing is to get into the post season and then play your best ball. The Beavers are in the field of 16, rated No. 5 and will welcome No. 14 Roane County to Mitchell Stadium tonight.
Bluefield (8-2) is coming off a 45-14 loss to No. 1 Wayne, while Roane County (6-4) fell to Class A No. 15 Williamstown 41-7 in its season finale. Simon talked about what he learned about his team from the Wayne game.
“We’ve got to get better in certain places and we can’t turn the ball over. Special teams, we’ve got to do a better job with that and we’ve got to play hard,” Simon said. “Wayne out-played us, there’s nothing else I can say. They just out-played us. That was then. Hopefully we’ll have another chance somewhere down the road and we’ll see how it goes then.”
To get that chance down the road the Beavers must first get past the Roane County Raiders. A team that is offensively balanced with a quarterback that can run and throw, Simon talked about the Beavers’ first-round opponent.
“No. 4 (John Ash) is a pretty good running back and the quarterback is not bad either,” Simon noted. “They have decent size on the line, a playoff team. That’s all I can tell you about them. I don’t know who they played, I just know they’re in the playoffs and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Roane County borders Kanawha County to the northwest. The Raiders this season defeated Clay County, Webster County, Braxton County, Man, Herbert Hoover and Wirt County. Their losses came at the hands of Ritchie County, Ravenswood, Ripley and Williamstown.
Leading the way on offense is running back John Ash, a six-foot 175 pound senior who rushed for 791 yards on 156 carries and scored 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Hunter Bradley (6’3” 165, jr.) ran for 735 yards and 157 attempts. Bradley completed 63-of-123 passes for 1,024 yards and nine scores. His favorite target was Tyler King who grabbed 39 passes for 703 yards. Luke Scott has rushed for 500 yards on 99 attempts.
Bluefield looks to get back on the winning track after last week’s loss at Wayne. The Beavers rode into Wayne with an eight-game win streak after dropping their season opening game to Graham.
The Beavers have relied heavily on the ground game this season with Montel Leggett leading the charge. Leggett rushed for 1,242 yards on the season and scored 18 touchdowns. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry and that is not even tops on the Bluefield team.
D.J. Stewart carries the ball for an average o 12.5 yards per carry. Stewart racked up 652 yards during the regular season, followed closely by Johnny David with 642 yards. Quarterback D.J. Edwards has run for 478 yards and 10 TDs and completed 24-of-37 passes for 512 yards and eight touchdowns.
The unsung heroes, the Bluefield offensive line of Cody Gore, Danny Miller, Tyler Myers, D.J. Green and Julius Thomas, have opened holes that have allowed Bluefield runners to gain 3,763 yards this season.
Bluefield kicker Justin Mariotti has connected on 58-of-63 extra points this season and is 2-for-4 on field goal attempts with a long of 35 yards.
Simon believes in order to advance, Bluefield must shake off last week’s performance.
“We need to play good in all phases of the game, offense, defense, special teams, don’t turn the ball over and have good special teams,” Simon said. “That should be enough to hopefully give us a good chance of winning.”
Simon praised the support of Beaver Nation and hopes there is a good turnout for what could be the final home game of the season for Bluefield, for if the Beavers win and seedings hold, future games would be on foreign turf.
“The 12th man and he crowd has always been great for us and we hope to continue having that support,” Simon said.
Kickoff between the Beavers and Raiders is set for 7:30. The broadcast can be heard on Eagle FM 100.9.
— Contact Bob Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org