Still looking for its first victory of the season heading into its seventh week, Elkins will roll into Wheeling tonight riding a little bit of a high coming off a near-miss upset of Class AA, No. 11 Philip Barbour in which the Tigers watched a late lead vanish and turn into another loss.
Unfortunately for coach Greg Hott's squad, it will find a very angry Wheeling Park football team waiting at Wheeling Island Stadium.
After all, the Patriots are coming off a week in which it looked like they had gone on the road and picked up a huge victory against powerful Morgantown, only to have the win ripped from their grasp by Kennedy Award hopeful Chazzy Thomas and the Mohigans.
The Inter-Mountain file photo
Elkins coach Greg Hott chats with an official during last week’s game at Philip Barbour. The Tigers will travel to No. 7 Wheeling Park this evening.
"Everyone wants to go undefeated, it is a huge goal at the beginning of the season," Park coach Chris Daugherty said. "But we talked with the team on Monday and told them that it rarely happens and it is no big deal. There are teams with losses every season that win state championships, national championships and even Super Bowls.
"There are still many other goals and the biggest thing you need to do as a team is regroup, get things back together and push forward."
Leading 35-19 with five minutes to play, it appeared Park was well on its way to its sixth victory before Morgantown scored twice, and added the 2-point conversion after each, including a touchdown as time expired. The Patriots did get a field goal in overtime before falling 41-38.
Thomas was a one-man wrecking crew for the Mohigans, rolling up 394 rushing yards and five touchdowns. As a team, Morgantown finished with 449 rushing yards and 512 total.
"That loss last week was a heartbreaker," Daugherty added. "But the bottom line is that you cannot let last week's heartbreaker turn into this week's shocker."
While sophomore Savion Johnson finished with 76 yards and two scores, senior quarterback Zach Phillips was 16 of 30 through the air for 281 yards and two more scores. Chalmer Moffett had seven grabs for 120 yards. However, Park's stable of running backs did take a hit last week with senior standout Bryce Ingram injured an ankle and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Elkins, meanwhile, may not have a Chazzy Thomas, but it does have Morgan Kelly, who carried 23 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns last week. The Tigers actually led Philip Barbour late and appeared on their way to a big upset victory before a tipped pass with a minute to play turned into a game-winning, 38-yard touchdown pass and a 29-28 setback.
"They are a single-wing team and any time you face that you know it is going to be difficult to defend." Daugherty said. "It is just different from what you are used to seeing on a normal Friday night, and as a defense you have your work cut out for you to stop it.
"But luckily for us we played them down there last year, so we at least do have an idea of what it looks like."