OAK GLEN AT POCA, 1:30 p.m. SATURDAY
NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. — Wyoming East traveled five hours to play Oak Glen in the first round of the West Virginia Class AA football playoffs on Saturday.
Now, it’s the Golden Bears’ turn to hit the road.
No. 6 seed Oak Glen will travel 232 miles to No. 3 seed Poca — 3 hours and 40 minutes — for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
West Virginia gives the higher-seeded team the option on whether to play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday or 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and the Golden Bears saw the Saturday choice as a no-brainer.
“We’re going to leave at about 10 a.m. on Friday and stay over night in Charleston,” Oak Glen coach Ted Arneault Jr. said.
Poca High School is located in Putnam County along the banks of the Kanawha River. It’s less than 20 miles from Charleston.
Oak Glen is enjoying its best season in school history at 11-0, but the Golden Bears will need another history-making performance on Saturday to advance.
The Golden Bears made the quarterfinal round twice before losing to No. 1 seed Point Pleasant 66-40 in a 2011 Class AA contest and falling to No. 15 seed Herbert Hoover in a 1993 Class AAA game.
Poca (11-0) has a decorated pedigree in the West Virginia playoffs having won six state titles (a Class B one in 1950 and Class AA titles in 1977, 1994, 2001, 2002 and 2003). Recent recent hasn’t been as kind though. The Dots appeared in the 2018 playoffs and were eliminated 41-14 by Weir in the first round. Before that the last Dot appearance in the playoffs was 2010 and that team exited in the first round.
“I have friends on the Weir staff and we’ve been following Poca since they played Weir last year,” Arneault said.
Arneault said the Dots feature a strong run game led by running back Ethan Payne. Payne rushed for 292 yards and five touchdowns in the Dots 42-27 win over North Marion on Saturday.
The Oak Glen coach does not believe Oak Glen has ever played Poca.
• Ohio’s OVAC teams finished 4-11 in the playoffs. On the West Virginia side, only Oak Glen and Wheeling Central (Class A) remain.
• Oak Glen’s Michael Lemley is two off the state record for interceptions in a season. His two on Saturday against Wyoming East give him 14 on the season. The state record is 16 set by Calhoun County’s Rick Smith set in 1990.