MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Before 2008 Point Pleasant had only made the post season five times. 2008 started a string of consecutive post season appearances for the Big Blacks that has now reached five.
“It’s our first year back in AAA and we’ve done pretty well,” said Point Pleasant head coach Dave Darst. “We’re 8-2, we’ve won three AAA games and we’ve lost two, and for us being the smallest AAA in the state we’ve done pretty well in our first year.”
Set to welcome the 12th-seeded PPHS back to the Class AAA playoffs are the fifth-seeded Mohigans of Morgantown. Both teams ended the regular season on multiple game winning streaks, as Point Pleasant has won four in a row and Morgantown has won three consecutive contests. Both teams will also be sporting an 8-2 record as play begins Saturday.
The only common opponent between these two teams is Brooke. The Bruins defeated hosting Point Pleasant 34-33 in week five while Morgantown gained the 45-21 win over Brooke in week 11 in Morgantown. The Mohigans are averaging 36 points a game this season, while only surrendering 22.1 points per game. The Big Blacks on average are scoring 36.7 points, while giving up just 12.9 points per game.
The Morgantown offense was led by runningback Chaz Thomas, who gained 1,503 yards on 156 carries with 20 touchdowns. Chaz Thomas, a junior, also has four receptions for 52 yards with a touchdown. Senior Jalen Thomas has 606 yards and six touchdowns on 86 carries, while Alex Weidman has 347 yards and eight touchdowns on 38 carries this season.
The Mohigans’ passing attack is led by senior Mark Johnson who who has 780 yards and 11 touchdowns on 64-of-100 passing. Blaine Stewart is Morgantown’s leading receiver with 409 yards on 29 catches with four touchdowns.
“They’re a really big football team and they’re going to average 260 or 265 across their front line offensively,” Darst said on his concerns in facing the Mohigans. “Defensively they’re really active, they run a 4-4 defense will really get after you. Morgantown has been in the playoffs just about every year and have been in state championships. They’re a good program. We’re really gonna have to play low and be quick and hopefully make some things happen with our quickness.”
There has been no shortage of offense for the Big Blacks this season, as they are averaging 382 yards and 17 first downs per game.
“Offensively we’re kinda rolling right now,” Darst said. “There’s no doubt we’re gonna have to do well on that side of the ball to keep our defense off the field.”
As a team Point Pleasant has rushed for 2,484 this season, anchored by Marquez Griffin with 751 yards rushing on 69 attempts with 10 touchdowns. Tylun Campbell rushed 82 times this season for 540 yards and five touchdowns, Teran Barnitz rushed 81 times for 505 yards and seven touchdowns, and Chase Walton rushed 29 times for 193 yards and five touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback will be making his first postseason start under center for the Big Blacks. Yates threw for 1,296 yards on 83-of-113 passing this season with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. Yates also ran for three TD’s on the year.
Walton was Yates’ main target this year, catching 23 passes for 405 yards and seven touchdowns. Anthony Perry caught eight passes for 228 yards with two TD’s, Brycen Reymond grabbed 11 passes for 170 yards and three scores, Campbell had 10 receptions for 153 yards and three scores, and Griffin caught 10 passes for 118 yards and one TD.
Just one season ago PPHS earned state runner-up honors in Class AA, now the Big Blacks will be looking to make a splash in Class AAA.
“We’ve played in AAA before and a lot of our coaches were AAA coaches when we were there,” Darst said. “We know what we’re getting into. We have a lot of kids coming back off of a state runner-up team last year and we felt like we had a good team. We’re glad that we’re there but we’re there to win some ball games and we’re going to get after these guys.”
Saturday’s game begins at 1:30 p.m. at Morgantown High School.