One team will get its elusive first win of the season and bragging rights for the next year when Buckhannon-Upshur and Elkins renew their rivalry at 7:30 p.m. today at Wimer Field for Homecoming.
The storied rivalry has several new faces on both sidelines, as the Tigers are relying on several youngsters at the skill spots and the Bucs have a first-year coach in Duane Stoeckle.
“It’s always a great rivalry when we play Elkins,” said Stoeckle, who had been an assistant coach for the Bucs since 1997 before taking over the program this year. “The games are usually close and competitive and come down to the fourth quarter.
“We haven’t fared too well against (Elkins) the past couple of years, so we would like to come out and play well on Friday night and get a win.”
Both teams have suffered growing pains over the first two weeks of the season while breaking in new players and schemes.
The Bucs are running a triple-option offense. Dillion Gaudet and Bryson Fluke have both seen time at quarterback, while Seth Cutright, fullback Philip Petrulak, Fluke and receiver Marcus Lofton are the primary ball handlers. Cole Payne and Chase Lewellyn also figure into the mix.
“We have to protect the edges (on defense) against their style of offense,” Elkins coach Greg Hott said. “We did a little better job of doing that last week against Hampshire and that will be important against B-U or we could be in for a long night.”
The Tigers entered the season inexperienced in the backfield. That issue has escalated through the first two games.
“We’ve had a lot injury problems with our backs,” Hott said.
“Hopefully we can get some guys back this week. We’ll just have to see what happens come Friday night.”
Mo Kelly, who rushed for 160 yards in the opener against Oak Hill, didn’t play in last week’s game against Hampshire due to an injury. Alex Taylor also was injured against the Trojans.
Senior Ben Lonergan leads Elkins in rushing with 171 yards on 36 attempts from the quarterback spot, while fellow senior Dylan Lucas stepped in last week and rushed for 49 yards.
With both teams having question marks on offense, line play could figure prominently in the outcome.
“We’re still looking for the right combination up front,” Stoeckle said. “We have to get better in that area to become a better team.”
Hott said getting his squad off to a good start also is important.
“We haven’t been too successful moving the ball early in games,” he said. “We need to come out on our first series and be productive.”
Elkins won last year’s meeting, which also was played at Wimer Field, by a score of 40-27.
This year’s contest was scheduled to be held in Tennerton but officials from both schools came to an agreement to play the game in Elkins for the second straight year due to a scheduling conflict that would have left the Tigers with just three home games.
Elkins’ final home game will be two weeks from today against Fairmont Senior for Senior Night.