The Greenbrier East Spartans got off to a 1-0 start to the 2021 season after defeating the Point Pleasant Big Blacks 32-22 on the road in Mason County last Friday night.
However, East could not celebrate very long as their archrival, the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles will be awaiting East to arrive in Beckley this Friday, Sept. 3 with revenge on their minds as the Eagles try to avenge two losses to the Spartans last year.
Ian Cline ran for 101 yards and caught two 40-plus yard TD passes in the Point Pleasant win and the Spartans will once again rely heavily on the sophomore running back.
Quarterback Monquelle Davis was the difference-maker on the offensive side of the football as he passed for 140 yards and ran for 44 more and had four touchdowns.
However, as exciting as the offense was, it was the defense that carried the Spartans to their first victory. They forced three Point Pleasant turnovers — all fumbles — and pressured quarterback Evan Roach all night. After the performance, linebacker Kamon Anderson was named McDonald’s player of the game.
But the Flying Eagles are riding high as well and are coming off a dominating 39-12 win over Riverside, and they too did most of their damage on the defensive end.
Elijah Redfern, a sophomore defensive back/receiver, picked off two passes and returned one for a touchdown. Fellow teammate and senior, Keynan Cook, also picked off two passes and he too returned one to the end zone.
Beckley had two big plays in the game on offense. One was a 45-yard Maddex McMillan touchdown pass to Redfern, who had three catches for 71 yards, and the other was another 40-yarder to Darmonte Mitchell. McMillan threw for 160 yards and the two scores on 12-of-17 passing.
Against the Eagles, East will need to control the football and run the clock. The only issue with that strategy though is Woodrow got 14 points from their defense, albeit all on interceptions against Riverside. Davis is a better player than what the Eagles faced last week in Riverside QB Jake Walker. Davis can pass it and run it and will need to be on top of his game in this one. Beckley did give up a 69-yard run to the Warriors so that is something East can look at on tape.
The Spartan defense will be key as well. It sounds cliché, but East must limit the big plays from the Woodrow offense. That will mean shutting down Redfern, Cook and Mitchell. Beckley did not run it much or all that well last week as evidenced by their 10 total rushing yards.
Head coach Ray Lee always has a plan, and the fans are accustomed to seeing it unfold every Friday. His plans and preparation this week will be under the watchful eye of everyone in attendance to see if the Spartans can get to an important 2-0 start.
In the second contest between the two teams last year, the Spartans eked out a close win as both teams almost combined for 100 points. This one should be more of a defensive shootout, at least initially on paper.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.