Bluefield vs. James Monroe.
In years past they have had some exciting games in the regular and post-season, even meeting at Wheeling Island Stadium in 2007 for the West Virginia Class AA state championship. Tonight at Mitchell Stadium the Beavers and Mavericks tee it up with big ramifications on the line for both teams.
Bluefield (7-1) is currently ranked No. 1 and a win would keep them in that position for next week’s battle with No. 2 way. James Monroe (3-5) is rated No. 19, just outside the top 16. A win against Bluefield keeps their playoff hopes alive as they host Princeton next week in the season finale.
The Beavers defeated then Class AAA No. 8 Oak Hill last week 51-15. Bluefield head coach Fred Simon talked of the team’s performance.
“I think the key was the effort made early by everyone,” Simon said. “Whether it was offense, defense, special teams, whatever, I think the effort we made early helped us out.”
In 2009 Bluefield won the state championship and in an assembly before the school when it was presented the title trophy, Simon talked about the heart of that particular team that rallied after losing two games and its starting quarterback midseason. Asked if this team had that kind of “heart,” Simon provided insight.
“I think they are developing it,” Simon pointed out. “I think they are growing each week and I am pleased with how far we’ve come from the Graham and Princeton games to now. We’ve still got, I hope, six more games left, so there is plenty of time for a lot more improvement. We’ll see how that goes.”
James Monroe is led by first-year grid coach John Mustain.
“I think he (Mustain) has done a really nice job as a first year coach,” Simon noted. “The kids play hard, they’ve had a tough schedule. They execute their offense and defense well. Their offense is a little bit different from other teams. They’ve got some motion out of a shotgun and they do some misdirection-type stuff right at you off that motion which makes it different from what we’ve seen and not easy as far as our defense goes.”
Mustain’s Mavericks have won their last two games, beating Mount View and Liberty-Raleigh and he believes the young team is starting to gel.
“We’re playing with a lot more intensity,” Mustain pointed out. “We haven’t felt with this team that they weren’t putting forth the effort. A lot of what has really hurt us this year are mistakes at the wrong time and we had a second half like that this past week. We had a third-and-61.
“When you’ve got several sophomores playing and several juniors that didn’t play last year and only about six seniors, you’re going to have a lot of that. But there has really been a different fire about them the last couple of weeks.”
James Monroe concludes its season against Bluefield and Princeton. He said there is nothing needed to be said to the Mavs to get them motivated.
“You’re talking about two very talented programs. Bluefield year-in and year-out is Bluefield. This year is no different. The last couple of years they’ve had as much, or more speed than I’ve ever seen them have and that’s going to be hard to contend with.”
James Monroe knows that wins in their final two games could land them in the playoffs.
“A win or two here these last two games, who knows what that might do the way AA is this year,” Mustain said. “We’ve got three wins and are ranked 19th, which kind of shocked me, but it’s one of those seasons.
“If we could have a little bit of luck and squeak out a couple of wins here in these last two games, I’m sure we’d be right in the playoffs, but it’s by no means an easy task. It’s going to take supreme effort. It’s going to be tough.”
The Mavericks will be playing without running back Isiah Clarkson who suffered a concussion last week. Bluefield enters the game at full strength.
Kickoff from Mitchell Stadium is set for 7:30.
— Contact Bob Redd at
Bluefield vs. James Monroe.
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