LEWISBURG (WVDN) – Football is back in Greenbrier County and you can almost feel the excitement jolting through your bones when strolling the community.
That is because the Greenbrier East Spartans have cemented their legacy over the last four seasons, with three of those resulting in a state playoff berth. Winning is becoming a consistent trend and East hopes to start off on the right foot in 2022 when they host the Point Pleasant Big Blacks this Friday, Aug. 26.
Point Pleasant is a good football team. Last season, the Big Blacks reeled off nine consecutive wins after losing their first game of the season to none other than Greenbrier East, 32-22. They averaged 33.6 points per game and advanced to the state playoffs as the number 3-seed in Class AA but lost to the Bluefield Beavers in the first round. In 2022, they will come in hungry and eager to get back on the field.
Point Pleasant is led by their quarterback, Evan Roach, and their running back, Gavin Jeffers.
Roach holds a scholarship offer from Morehead State and finished last season with 1,828 total yards and 32 touchdowns. He scored two TDs against East in the 2021 opener. Jeffers ran for 1,444 yards a year ago and 16 scores. Against the Spartans, Jefffers ran for 191 yards on just 12 carries. Jeffers landed on the Class AA all-state first team, while Roach made the second team as a utility player.
Both players are poised for big seasons and will present large threats to the Spartan defense.
Six-foot-four-inch tight end Cody Schultz is the top receiving threat. He caught five touchdown passes a year ago and is a multiple track and field state champ, so the athleticism is there for him to also be a thorn in the Spartans side.
Defense has been the biggest issue over the last couple of seasons for Point Pleasant due to youth, but this year everyone is a year older with more experience under their belt. Still, there will be as many as six underclassmen on the defensive line which could make things interesting in the trenches.
The Big Blacks are coached by David Darst who is entering his 16th season at the helm.
The Spartans have some playmakers returning in their own right after averaging 34.5 ppg last year.
Ian Cline, a first-team all-state running back returns for his junior season after rushing for nearly 1,700 yards and 18 TDs in 2021.
Dual-threat quarterback Monquelle Davis is back and will look to have his best year yet. Last season he combined for over 1,600 total yards and 21 TDs and was an honorable mention all-state selection.
Replacing some graduating offensive linemen will be a task, but with the youth the Big Blacks have on their lines, the Spartans may be able to exploit that with some big plays.
Davis may look to pass to senior Lucas McCallister who hauled in 20 passes for 238 yards and two TD’s. He will lead a rather young receiving corps looking for new playmakers after the graduation of Bryson Ormsbee. Jake Pate is another option to make plays in the passing game.
Keys to the game and prediction:
Last year, East won on the road at Point Pleasant with the help of three Big Black turnovers in which the Spartans were able to capitalize. Both teams’ lines on each side of the ball are unproven and relatively young, with the exception of a couple players.
Can the Spartans run the football behind that revamped offensive line? If the answer to that question is yes, then East can move the chains and keep Roach and Jeffers on the sideline for long periods of time. Point Pleasant will also try to keep Davis and Cline on their sidelines as well. The winner of this game will be whichever team executes that plan the best and turns the ball over the least. This one is a true toss-up game between two good teams that could go either way. Unfortunately, I think Point Pleasant comes in focused with revenge on their minds and squeaks out a win in what is sure to be an entertaining contest.
Point Pleasant- 37
Greenbrier East- 35