Preview: State Playoffs- (#9) George Washington at (#8) Greenbrier East - West Virginia Daily News
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Preview: State Playoffs- (#9) George Washington at (#8) Greenbrier East

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It is finally here.

In every interview done with Greenbrier East Spartan football players this year, each one mentioned something about the playoffs or hosting a playoff game. That has been the goal all year for the Spartans who finished the regular season at 8-2, their best finish since 1998.

This Friday night, November 12 at 7:30 PM, East welcomes in the George Washington Patriots to what will be a wild and rowdy crowd at Spartan Stadium for the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

The Patriots come in at 7-3 and have played a very tough schedule. They began the year winners of their first three games before losing three of their next four. However, those losses were to #1 Huntington (30-14), #3 Cabell Midland (35-7) and #13 South Charleston (14-13), all playoff participants.

They are now on a three-game winning streak and averaging 39 points per game and 306 rushing yards during those three contests.

Unlike most of East’s opponents this season, the Patriots don’t have a superstar that jumps off the page that has to carry his team by himself. GW has a committee of players who contribute, so focusing on just one or two will get the Spartans beaten by the others.

Abe Fenwick is the signal caller and he is a more than capable passer. The 6-foot-2 inch, 175-pound sophomore is 89-of-171 for 1,440 yards, 17 TD’s and nine interceptions. Fenwick is not a running threat, but he does have two touchdown runs, although he will keep his eyes downfield looking for the throw 99 percent of the time.

Kyle Matthews leads a three-headed monster running attack with 62 carries and 507 yards. He also leads the team with seven touchdowns. Hasten Pinkerton and Keegan Sack are the other two players who will see some snaps out of the backfield as well. The former has run for 324 yards and four touchdowns while the latter has scored five TD’s and has 315 yards.

Taran Fitzpatrick is the Patriots leading receiver. He has hauled in 30 catches for 566 yards and five TD’s. Tyshawn Dues is the other major target and he has 25 receptions, 364 yards and five touchdowns.

Defensively, GW gets after the football and makes plays. Fitzpatrick also plays in the defensive backfield and has 15 passes defended. Klayton Matthews leads the team in tackles with 63 including four behind the line of scrimmage. Peyton Coulter has collected 55 tackles and six for a loss, and Layth Ghannan leads the team with 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.

On offense, the Spartans have had the same plan all year. Ride Ian Cline (1,619 yards, 18 TD’s) as far as he will take them. If he’s slowed down, which he rarely has been, let quarterback Monquelle Davis take the reigns. That won’t change this Friday as those two players are huge keys in the Spartans success. But the feeling here is someone else needs to have a really big game if East wants to advance. Whether that is Lucas McCallister or Bryson Ormsbee on offense or Garrett Bennett, Kamon Anderson or Levi Wagner on defense, the Spartans need a third big showing from somebody.

East is riding a four-game winning streak and have found their stride at just the right time. However, the same can be said for GW. They have won three in a row and have played one of the toughest schedules in the state. The game being at home really helps the Spartans. The crowd will be rowdy and the place will be packed. The weather looks as of now to be perfect for football. This one is hard to predict, but unfortunately I see a valiant effort from the Spartans coming up just a possession short.

Prediction:

George Washington 27

Greenbrier East 21

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