CHARMCO – The series between Greenbrier West has been one of streaks. The Tide won the first three meeting in the series followed by four straight wins for the Cavaliers. The only games that were close were Sherman’s first win over West and West’s first win over Sherman. When the Tide won, they did so with an average score of 35.3 – 9.7. When the Cavaliers prevailed, the average score was 34.3 – 7.
The series has also been peppered with spectacular performances and rainy, October weather. The first meeting came on October 21, 2016, in a Charmco quagmire. The Tide slipped out of Greenbrier County with a 22-21 win. The following two seasons, Sherman bested the Cavaliers by huge margins. The Cavaliers fell 42-8 in 2017 and 42-0 in ‘18. The Tide’s J.T. Hensley put on a show that Sherman fans will likely not forget. Hensley ran 22 times for 215 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also tacked on a conversion run and pass, making him responsible for 40 of the Tide’s 42 points.
The 2018 meeting was a strange affair in Seth. West rolled into Zontini Stadium with a 6-1 record and a #5 rating. Sherman was reeling at 1-6, or so it seemed. The Tide put up a fight, and the horrible weather contributed to keeping the game close. Isaac Brown blocked a punt out of the endzone to score a safety for the game’s first points. Cole McClung plunged over for a 5-yard touchdown to give the Cavaliers an 8-0 halftime lead, but Sherman clawed its way back into the game when Christopher Winnell scored on an 18-yard run to bring the Tide to within two. The biggest play of the game came in the fourth quarter when Cavalier linebacker Zack McClung chased Winnell down from behind on an apparent go-ahead touchdown run, preserving the 8-6 win.
In running the head-to-head win streak to four games, West had some memorable performances of their own. The 2020 game was largely the Kaiden Pack show, Pack passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns while carrying the ball 12 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Cole McClung added the exclamation points to the victory with two fourth quarter touchdowns that included a 94-yard rumble.
The 2021 contest featured the Greenbrier West ground game which rolled up 463 yards rushing. Ty Nickell was responsible for 269 yards of the output and four touchdowns, and Cole Vandall threw for 104 yards and a touchdown. In last year’s contest, Isaac Agee returned the opening kickoff 76 yards for a score. Vandall blocked a punt that Nickell returned for a touchdown, and Nickell ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Vandall had a scoring toss and Jacob Nutter forced a safety. Nutter returns tonight for his first action since the win over Shady Spring.
For Greenbrier West, tonight’s matchup is all about doing the things that got them to this point and remaining healthy. Getting Nutter back in the lineup will provide quality depth and experience. Offensively, West is averaging 209.7 yards-per-game on the ground and 146.3 yards-per-game through the air. Vandall leads the passing attack with 17 touchdown passes and over 1,000 yards. Jake Pate leads all Cavalier rushers with 488 yards and 11 touchdowns. Agee is next on the list with 282 yards and three touchdowns. Greenbrier West has seven other backs with touchdown runs this season, showing off tremendous depth at the position. Tucker Lilly leads the receivers with 19 catches for 291 yards and 5 scores, while Colton Dunbar has hauled in 13 receptions for 223 yards and 5 touchdowns of his own. Ethan Holliday is a dangerous threat, pulling down 11 balls for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Cavaliers remain a stout unit that has given up only 27 points this season while pitching shutouts in four of seven contests. The linebacker duo of Brandon Poticher and C.W. Sturgell has been stellar. Poticher leads West with 60 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. Sturgell has collected 52 stops to go with an interception and a fumble recovery. Holliday is one of the elite defenders in Class A again this season, with 54 tackles to his name and an incredible 14 tackles for loss. Marcus Adkins and Evan Vandall have done a superb job at the corners, and steady defensive line play has been the norm. Jacob Whitt, Trent Parker, and Daron Vaughan have anchored the unit with Cameron White and Ethan Hamons filling in nicely. The bookends for West are Vandall and Dunbar, and they’ve been exceptional at closing down the pocket for opposing passers as well as funneling runners to the linebacking crew.
If it seems like Hayden Ridgeway and Agee get kudos on a weekly basis, it’s for good reason. Ridgeway has hit on 36 of 39 extra point attempts this season and has nailed a field goal as well. Agee has only had to punt four times, but his free kick versus James Monroe was a thing of beauty. The kicking game could be a crucial element if wet weather plagues tonight’s contest.
The Tide come into tonight fighting for their playoff lives. Rated #20 in the latest WVSSAC ratings, Sherman desperately needs a signature win to jump start their playoff chances. With their final two games coming against Meadow Bridge and Ritchie County, Greenbrier West is the game that carries the most value points-wise. Head Coach Kevin Buzzard has his team within reach of a playoff berth in his third season, but the Tide were 5-2 and rated #11 in his first season when West crushed the Tide 38-8. Buzzard’s squad has seven seniors but has 14 juniors that need playing time to develop into a contender next season.
Andrew Simpson, a running back last season, has assumed the quarterback role in 2023, at least part of the time. Freshman Elijah Pauley has taken snaps as well, and his main target has been sophomore Elijah Lester. Joshua Jones has a strong leg and is a very capable placekicker.
Last week, Van’s single wing running attack pounded the interior of the Tide defensive unit. Look for West’s running backs to challenge the Sherman defenders.
Kickoff is at 7:30 this week. Pregame coverage can be heard on Rock 95 at 7 P.M. There was no confirmed livestream of the event as of Friday afternoon.
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