BLUEFIELD — Last Friday, the Bluefield Beavers won a tough football game against a tough opponent, defeating James Monroe 14-7. But for the Beavers this season, that has been business as usual.

“We’ve had good leadership with our players and they just hung in there against a very tough football team,” Bluefield head coach Fred Simon said. “We knew that going in we would have to play an exceptional game to have a chance to win.”

Simon would not have it any other way.

“The comment made to me years ago was, ‘Pressure builds champions,’” Simon said. “If you don’t play a tough schedule where you challenge your players week-in, week-out, it’s hard to get any better. I took their advice to heart.

“It’s another tough opponent. But if we’re not ready to play, we’ll get our feelings hurt.”

Before the Beavers (8-0) get to the playoffs, they have one more tough opponent to take care of. The Scott Skyhawks (7-2) come into this game at Charleston’s Laidley Field fourth in the West Virginia Class AA rankings. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

According to Simon, their talent is worthy of the ranking. Jordan Roberts leads the state with 2,596 yards and a total of 34 touchdowns. He needs 186 yards against Bluefield to set a record for rushing yards in a season. Randy Bishop has added 561 yards and five touchdowns for the ‘Hawks.

“The running back-slash-quarterback for them, Roberts, he is very, very tough,” Simon said. “If he rushes for 186 yards the rest of the season, which I feel sure he will, then he will break the state rushing record for the year.

“I think the key is definitely trying to contain him. I know they have other backs that are doing an adequate job. But to me, he’s the key….”

Roberts has also thrown for 448 yards and four scores, with his favorite target being Shayne Butcher, who has seven catches for 261 yards and three scores.

Simon has a simple strategy for stopping Roberts. Part of it comes down to the ability of the Beavers’ running game to churn out some yardage.

“The game is still boiled down to who blocks and tackles the best a lot of times can win,” Simon said. “We tackle him a little better than they tackle Shaun Brooks and Marcus Patterson and Jake Lilly and Aaron Bowes and all those guys and if we can do a good job of that then we may come out on top.”

Those offensive weapons will face a defense that presents new challenges. Bluefield faced Scott last season when they were ranked No. 1 in the state, and left Laidley Field with a 22-0 win.

“We’ve faced a lot of three-man fronts lately, but now we’re going to face a four-man front,” Simon said. “They’re big up front. Their two tackles that are on our guards are 315 pounds and 275. It poses some problems.”

But Simon believes that his offense is so versatile, the Beavers will eventually find a way to be victorious. That offense is led by quarterback Will Cole, who has thrown for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brooks leads the Beavers in rushing with 832 yards (8.7 ypc) and 10 scores, while fullback Jake Lilly has 415 yards on the ground.

Ansel Ponder is Bluefield’s leading receiver, having caught 32 passes for 392 yards and five scores. Chase Joyner and Cody Wassum have 11 catches apiece.

“We’ll just kind-of exploit and see what we can do,” Simon said. “Last week, we tried to throw and weren’t very successful, but we had a good rushing game. So that’s all we can ask.

“I’m tickled to death if we can find one or the other. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have both to me. I’m just happy to win.”

Bluefield has already punched their ticket as one of the top seeds for the playoffs. But Simon knows his team still has to perform.

“Once we get into the postseason, it doesn’t matter what we did the regular season. It’s all over,” Simon said. “I’m very pleased that they have locked in a home-field advantage with the playing field that we have and the facility that we have throughout the playoffs.

“Hopefully we can push on here with Scott and be very competitive there and have a chance to win this game. It would make me feel great.”

—Contact Jed Lockett