Playoff Positioning At Stake As Cavaliers Clash With Tide - West Virginia Daily News
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Playoff Positioning At Stake As Cavaliers Clash With Tide

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#14 Greenbrier West (5-2) at #11 Sherman (5-2)

Friday, October 22, 7PM

Zontini Field

Radio: WRLB 95.3 FM (6:30 PM)

Series: Sherman leads 3-2

Last Meeting: (10/23/2020) Greenbrier West 41 Sherman 14

Last week: The Cavaliers marched down the field on their first possession taking an early 6-0 lead on a Ty Nickell touchdown run. Richwood answered on the next possession with a 68-yard touchdown pass, but it was all-Cavaliers after that as West put up 28 first quarter points enroute to a 50-8 victory. Ty Nickell continued to pile up yardage, rushing for 124 yards and three touchdowns behind an offensive line that was without three starters. Marcus Adkins added 110 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Kadin Parker chipped in with 69 yards and a touchdown. For the second time this season, both Chase McClung and Parker pulled down interceptions in the same game, with McClung returning his 39 yards for a touchdown. Jayden Robinson added a forced fumble and a recovery to a Cavalier defensive effort that held Richwood to 169 yards of total offense.

Sherman defeated Van 24-14 in the Battle for the Coal Shovel at Hershel Jarrell Field. Colby Buzzard had two first-half touchdowns, one rushing and another receiving, to help the Tide take an 18-8 halftime lead. C.J. Winnell provided the other first half score for Sherman with a 10-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs lone first-half score came midway through the second quarter when Van cornerback Byron Stewart intercepted a T.J. Hager pass and returned it for a pick six and a brief 8-6 lead. Hager got his revenge in the second half, connecting with Dalton Rollo for a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave Sherman a 24-8 advantage. Van would counter with a touchdown pass of their own to cut the lead to 24-14, but their last effort to score was cut short by a Rollo interception late in the game.

The matchup: Not many key players from Greenbrier West’s 41-14 win in 2020 are back, at least not in the same positions. Nickell has flourished in his role as the Cavalier tailback, amassing 1,028 yards and 10 touchdowns in only seven games. The Cavaliers are averaging 284 yards-per-game rushing, with Parker (217 yards, 4 TDs) and Vandall (277 yards, 5 TDs) complementing Nickell to balance the backfield. Robinson has also added three rushing touchdowns, and Adkins has emerged as a viable threat to relieve Nickell if needed. Sherman’s defense surrendered only 140 yards rushing to Van, so you can expect their defense to be stingy with the ground game. Travis Cooper anchors the Tide defensive line and is a run-stopper.

Vandall has passed for over 600 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021, and when he’s limited turnovers, he’s been extremely effective. The Tide gave up 100 yards through the air to the Bulldogs so you can expect Vandall to take some shots down the field. Parker added another dimension to the quarterback position Friday night when he was inserted to orchestrate a pistol package and led the Cavaliers to their first touchdown of the game. Cavalier quarterbacks will have to be wary of Rollo who had two interceptions in the win over Van. McClung has been a dynamic receiver when called upon, compiling 11 catches and 244 yards with 3 touchdown receptions. Nickell (9) and Parker (8) add pass catching ability out of the backfield and slot. Tucker Lilly had his best receiving game of the season at Richwood. If the Cavaliers find success running the football, they’ll throw effectively and that’s been a recipe for West success.

The Tide racked up 217 yards rushing against Van and added 50 more through the air. In doing so, Sherman ran 67 plays from scrimmage compared to Van’s 45, limiting the Bulldogs’ opportunities to extend drives. C.J. Winnell had five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown last year versus Greenbrier West, but he’s moved to the backfield this season to become Sherman’s do-it-all tailback. T.J. Hager, also a Tide receiver in 2020 (112 yards receiving and a touchdown against the Cavaliers), has passed for 583 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions on the season. Look for ballhawks McClung and Parker to find the football when it’s in the air as Hager gave up a pick six in the win over Van. Senior wideout Buzzard has been an offensive playmaker for Sherman as well.

Miscellaneous: Greenbrier West climbed back into playoff contention with the win over Richwood, vaulting from 17th in the WVSSAC Class A ratings to 14th. A win over Sherman would bolster the Cavaliers’ post-season chances, even keeping the possibility of a home playoff game or two a reality. All of this is premature though, as the Cavaliers are treating each remaining game as must-win and a playoff game of sorts. Sherman has been a tough opponent for the Cavaliers historically, especially in Seth where West is 1-1. The Cavaliers were blown out at Zontini Field in 2017 and narrowly eked out a win in 2019. Coming in with a 5-2 record of their own, Sherman hopes to solidify their playoff chances as well. Kevin Buzzard is in his first season as head coach of the Tide and has Sherman trending in the right direction. Buzzard has been an assistant under both J.D. Fairchild and Michael Showalter in previous meetings between the two schools.

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