Almost...

Almost... Bluefield’s Chase Joyner attempts to catch a pass against Roane County in an earlier playoff game.

BLUEFIELD — Several seniors currently on the Bluefield football team were part of the 2004 state championship squad. Many of the freshmen who are now seniors even got to play in that game.

Chase Joyner missed on both counts. He didn’t start playing football until the following year. He’s glad to be a Beaver.

“I love it,” Joyner said. “I’m glad I’m playing football.”

The 6-foot, 154-pound wide receiver and defensive back will be even happier if he can experience what it feels like to be a state champion.

“I really want this,” Joyner said. “I really want to get a championship this year and get that ring,”

Bluefield (11-0) is two wins away from that goal, but so is Scott. The Beavers will host the Skyhawks (9-3) on Friday at Mitchell Stadium, with the winner earning a trip to Wheeling and the Class AA state championship game on Nov. 30. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

“I feel really good about our chances,” Joyner said. “I think our offense is doing the job, and our defense, if we stop him, we’ll be all right.”

‘Him’ is Scott senior Jordan Roberts. All Roberts has done this season is run for 3,643 yards and 47 touchdowns. That includes 267 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-25 loss to Bluefield on Nov. 2, setting a record for most rushing yards in a season by a West Virginia running back. He even completed a touchdown pass in that loss.

Roberts has remained on a roll in the postseason. In two playoff wins — a 40-27 win over Sissonville and a 54-20 rout of Berkeley Springs — Roberts has run for an astonishing 816 yards.

Joyner, who recorded six tackles in last Saturday’s 41-18 quarterfinal win over Chapmanville, thinks it will help the Beavers to have faced Roberts once already this season.

“Jordan is a great running back, I’ll give it to him, but I think if we do our job and wrap up that we can shut him down,” Joyner said. “Seeing him before will definitely helps us a lot.

“I think we were underestimating him a little bit and he’s a lot quicker than we thought, but I think we can do our job.”

Bluefield has definitely been doing that in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Beavers, who also have a 51-20 win over Roane County, has forced nine first half turnovers in the two games and have outscored their opponents 86-0 in the opening two quarters.

“The key is we like to come out strong,” Roberts said. “When we come out of the locker room, we just like coming out and starting strong in the game and let some of our younger guys get some experience too later in the game.”

That formula has worked so far. The Bluefield offense has been taking advantage of those turnovers, with Joyner leading the Beavers in receiving in the win over Chapmanville with five catches for 58 yards.

“I’m happy with my performance in the last game, but everybody did well,” Joyner said. “Will (Cole) was getting the ball to us and we were making the catches and making plays.

“There’s so many different plays that we’ve got that teams just don’t know what is coming at them. It’s just real fun being on this offense.”

Joyner, who has caught 19 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns this season, has given Bluefield an effective target on the other side of the field from all-state performer Ansel Ponder.

“I think I surprise them sometimes because all they hear about is Ansel,” Joyner said. “He is a really good receiver, but I’m just happy with my role on the team. I do my role and I’m happy with that.”

Bluefield head coach Fred Simon feels the same about Joyner.

“I thought Chase played one of his better games last week,” Simon said.

“He’s done a good job and I was happy to see him have a good game.”

Joyner is also part of a defense that has made it tough on the opposition. In fact, the Bluefield secondary has allowed just one touchdown pass all season. And, other than the effort by Roberts, they haven’t given up much on the ground either.

“I love coming up and hitting people, but I’ve got to protect the pass first and I think we’re doing a good job of that,” Joyner said. “We don’t have many touchdown passes thrown on us.

“As long as we do our job and just keep coming up and hitting and stopping the run too, then I think we’ll be all right...They’re throwing the ball on us, but we’re just doing a good job of covering it and knocking them down and getting a lot of interceptions.”

Bluefield doesn’t expect every playoff game to be out of hand by halftime. While the Beavers have eight wins by double figures, they have shown the ability to win the close ones too, with wins over William Campbell (14-7), Richlands (16-13) and James Monroe (14-7).

Joyner, who said his season highlight was a touchdown catch against Richlands, said those close games have prepared the Beavers if they encounter another close call in the playoffs.

“That was really important because it shows we don’t give up toward the end of the game,” Joyner said. “That was really important for us as a team.”

So is a win on Friday night. The winner will tangle the following Friday against either James Monroe or Wayne for the Class AA title in Wheeling.

There’s also another goal, one that the Beavers rarely mention. Bluefield has finished with an unblemished record in six of its eight state championship seasons. Joyner would love to make it 7-for-9.

“We think about that all the time,” Joyner said.

“We really want to go undefeated, just like the ‘04 and ‘97 teams.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com