For the first time this football season the Bluefield Beavers will play outside Mercer County. Bluefield has been at Mitchell Stadium for four of its five games, the lone road contest a few miles east on Route 460 to Princeton.
Tonight coach Fred Simon and the Beavers board the buses and head to Bradshaw to take on the River View Raiders. It is the second meeting between the schools, the teams meeting last year in Bluefield with the Beavers coming out on top. This is the fourth year of River View’s existence and in each of its three previous seasons the Raiders have made the Class AA playoffs.
Bluefield comes into the game with a 4-1 record, having defeated Graham, Gate City, Greenbrier East and Richlands. River View enters the battle 3-2 with wins over Mount View, Buffalo and James Monroe with losses to Man and Wyoming East.
River View is led by junior running back Jordan Wilson who rushed for xxx yards in the Raiders’ loss last week to Wyoming East. Simon knows the key for the Beavers.
“The main key is stopping Wilson. I think we have to stop him. If we do that then we pose some problems, and they’ll have to go to things that are not going to be easy for them,” Simon observed. “Their fullback, No. 45 (Greg Marshall) runs hard and they can throw the ball if you’re not heads up.”
The Raiders are a big team up front and Simon believes the Beavers’ lines, will be able to hold their own.
“I think our line has gotten better each week. I’m proud of them so far, both side of the ball, offense and defense,” Simon noted.
“I think that Cody Gore has turned into a fine lineman. He’s done a heck of a job for us. D.J. Sims is doing a good job. Justin Lightfoot is doing a good job. That’s our three seniors. I think all three of them are doing a good job, and then the two sophomores, Matthew Belcher and Jordan George are doing fine too. I think we have some seniors that have gotten better from last year, some sophomores that are helping them out.”
The Beavers defeated Richlands last week and Simon gave his assessment of the Beavers’ performance against the Blue Tornado.
“Things didn’t go like we would have hoped early. They kicked a really nice onside kick and recovered it and went down and hammered it in. Things didn’t go smooth early, but I’m proud of the players, how they reacted and how we eventually got it together,” Simon said.
While it is a game away from home, it is a small trip compared to some long journeys the Beavers have had to make in the past.
“It’s great. Having to go to Charlotte when you’ve got all the teams that are capable of playing you here in West Virginia,” Simon commented. I am glad that they play us and hope that we continue the relationship.
“ I think it’s a great step for them to come to Mitchell Stadium, what a good atmosphere and really good field and River View has a nice football field themselves and a nice facility. I hope we can keep them on the schedule forever.
As far as the team playing away from home and any possible jitters, Simon believes that will not be a problem for Bluefield.
“We’ve done it so many times, at least I have, that it’s not going to matter. I like traveling to McDowell County. It’s a beautiful drive. I always liked the Mount View drive, down to Welch. It will be fine. I’m looking forward to the trip and it’s just nice to see some of West Virginia ourselves. We’ll be okay on the road,” Simon said.
River View lost to Wyoming East last Friday. At one point the Raiders were ahead 12-0 before the visitors from Wyoming County rallied and claimed an 18-12 win over the Raiders and their first-year head coach Gehrig Justice.
Justice took over the helm from Mitchell Estep who retired after more than 30 years as a head coach at Iaeger and River View High Schools. Estep retired as the winningest high school football coach in McDowell County history with more than 200 wins.
Bluefield is a bit banged up after the Richlands games and the D.J.s, Edwards and Stewart are nursing injuries, according to Simon.
“They both will play. I don’t know how much action they get, Edwards probably is not quite as bothered by the shoulder injury as Stewart by the knee. It’s basically a hyperextended knee,” Simon said.
“They’re okay, but we’ll see. We’ve had some players that have stepped in all year long, so I’m not too concerned about it. I want them ready, but if they are not quite able to perform up to capabilities, we’ll have somebody ready to go.”
Look for senior Charles Ross and freshman Carlos Reed to step in for the D.J.s.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Bradshaw.