Playoffs end for some before they start
WHEELING, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education’s color-coded map that determines whether or not athletic events can be held has spoken.
And it didn’t go in favor of Ohio and Marshall Counties.
Both of those counties — along with 14 others throughout the state — were listed as either or Orange or Red, meaning sports are off for the week.
That, unfortunately, brings an end to the football season for Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central and John Marshall.
All three were scheduled to be in action Sunday in the opening round of the SSAC playoffs. Sunday is usually a total day off for prep sports in West Virginia, but the SSAC granted the opportunity for games to be played to give teams in the original field a chance to play because of last weekend’s map coloring.
Throughout the state, 11 games from the original bracket were pushed to Sunday with hopes of the counties being involved coming off the orange or red designation. However, just one of those games — Clay County at Bluefield — will be played.
The games unable to be played will go down as a no contest and the team that is eligible to play — according to the Nov. 7 map — will advance to next weekend’s quarterfinal round.
While the map stings for all teams, it’s especially disappointing for the Maroon Knights. Central is the three-time defending Class A state champions and were among the favorites to make another run.
“One of the hardest things about this is having to look at our kids faces after they’ve basically had the rug pulled out from under them,” Central head coach Mike Young said. “It’s tough because it’s one of those things that you simply don’t have a say in. Our kids and coaches have followed all of the rules and protocols to stay safe. Whatever we needed to do, we did.”
Central was scheduled to visit St. Marys.
The map ends a season of scheduling headaches for the Maroon Knights. They jockeyed games and opponents several times en route to a 6-3 season. Of their original, 10-game schedule, the Knights saw half of those games get altered for one reason or another.
“We started out (the season) on an ugly note (against Poca), but when I look at how much our kids have improved and how they were really starting to come on, I feel like we had a really good shot to defend our state title again,” Young said.
Wheeling Park, meanwhile, was scheduled to play at home as the seventh seed against Princeton. The Patriots finish at 7-1 and also dealt with scheduling issues. They didn’t get to play traditional rivals Brooke and John Marshall due to COVID-19 issues. They picked up Linsly when Ohio Co. was gold earlier in the season to replace Steubenville.
On top of those changes, Park played only once in the final three weeks of the regular season.
The Patriots won the OVAC Class 5A title. The only on-field loss came in the season opener to St. Clairsville.
John Marshall earned the last spot in the AAA field and was scheduled to visit top seeded Cabell-Midland.
The Monarchs finish the season at 5-4.
“It’s a disappointing way to end the season with all of the hard work and effort that our guys have put in,” Monarchs head coach Jason Willis said. “We knew it would be a challenge going to (Cabell Midland) to play the number one team, but it would have been nice to have a shot at them. Unfortunately, it’s been a crazy year, not just for us, but for countless teams across the state.”
Other playoff teams that were eliminated by the map were Williamstown, Buffalo, Tug Valley, Poca, Ripley, Hurricane and Parkersburg.
Two Ohio Valley teams — Oak Glen and Madonna — were allowed to play this weekend. The Golden Bears blanked Point Pleasant, 42-0, in their AA opening-round game, but the Blue Dons were defeated 58-0 at Greenbrier West. Hancock County is gold on the latest map, which means the Golden Bears will be permitted to play again this weekend.