Cavaliers head to Hico for Midland Trail showdown
By: Michael Goddard
HICO (WVDN) – Two teams looking for a signature win square off this Friday night in Hico when the 7-1 Greenbrier West Cavaliers visit the 5-3 Midland Trail Patriots. The Cavaliers are looking for a win that will vault them back into the top eight and guarantee them at least one home playoff game in three weeks. The Patriots are on the outside looking in at this point, needing a win over Greenbrier West to even qualify. The stakes are always high when these two schools face each other. The playoff scenario is just an added bonus.
The Cavaliers rebounded from their only loss to beat a young Sherman squad last week. West overwhelmed the Tide enroute to their program record-tying sixth shutout of the season. Isaac Agee set the tone when he opened the game with a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Agee also kept the Tide at bay with a couple of nicely placed punts. Ty Nickell rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added a blocked punt return for a touchdown. Cole Vandall threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a 24-yarder to Dalton Heath, and added a rushing touchdown of his own. Jacob Nutter forced an intentional grounding in the endzone that resulted in a safety. Nutter had a team-high 18 tackles in the game and added a fumble recovery. Finally, Kadin Parker iced the Cavaliers’ cake with an 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Dominant in every way, Greenbrier West got the two-week old memory of a bad tasting loss to James Monroe out of their mouths, sort of.
Much like Greenbrier West, Midland Trail has taken a similar path the past couple of weeks. The Patriots were also shut out by the Mavericks followed by an open week. James Monroe pounded the Patriots on the ground, giving up 193 yards to Braydie Carr and 148 yards to Cooper Ridgeway. Midland Trail also turned the ball over with quarterback Jayden Gladwell throwing three interceptions, two pick-sixes. The Patriots ground game was stifled by James Monroe, netting only 40 yards in the 42-0 loss.
Midland Trail’s best win of the season was a 13-12 come-from-behind victory over Summers County on September 23. The Patriots were turnover-prone in the first half and went into the halftime break trailing 12-0. Gladwell turned out to be the hero, though, tossing two touchdown passes on another night that the Patriots struggled to gain much momentum on the ground.
Greenbrier West’s defense has been better than average, only allowing their opponents to rush for 77.9 yards per game. The Cavaliers have also recovered a whopping 17 fumbles. West’s pass defense has been even stingier, allowing only 43.8 yards per game while intercepting eight passes. The secondary looks to get a lot more work against the Midland Trail offense. Gladwell has completed 67 passes for 1,158 yards and tossed 13 touchdown passes, but he’s matched that total with 13 interceptions. Senior wide receiver Cody Harrell has 42 receptions for 742 yards and seven touchdowns. Harrell has elite speed and playmaking ability that the Cavaliers will have to account for. Look for the opportunistic Cavaliers to pressure Gladwell, throw an umbrella over the Patriot receivers, and create some turnovers.
Greenbrier West leads the all-time series between the schools 24-12. The Cavaliers won ten straight games from 2002-11 and the series was paused. Since resuming the series in 2016, Trail holds a 4-1 advantage. The schools did not play in 2020 because of COVID-related issues. West has an 11-7 record at Roger Eades Field, and head coach Toby Harris is 3-1 against the Patriots.
Since the WVSSAC playoffs expanded to sixteen teams in 1991, Greenbrier West has had 16 teams that won at least seven games. All 16 of those teams qualified for the playoffs. The Cavaliers have already hit the seven-win threshold and are looking for more. Every eight-win team since 1991 has hosted a playoff game except for the 1997 Cavaliers.
With seven points scored, West will surpass their point total of 325 from 2021, a total they accumulated in eleven games. The Cavaliers are also doing their best to hang with the 1983 squad that surrendered a program-low 42 points through eleven games. The current team has given up 39 through eight contests.
Local radio coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Rock 95.