By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
With six games in the books and sporting a 5-1 record, the No. 5 Bluefield Beavers hit the road for the first time this season, heading to Wyoming County to take on the No. 15 Westside Renegades (4-3).
The Beavers were the visiting team in the season opener against Graham, and sat on the east sideline at Mitchell Stadium and wore white jerseys, this is the first time they will plod on turf outside their home stadium, and also the first game on natural grass, neither of which concerns veteran head coach Fred Simon.
“We practice on natural grass every day, so it’s not going to make any difference to us,” Simon said. “As far as playing on the road, we’ve overcome a lot of tough things all year. I don’t perceive this being any different. I think our kids will play hard and that’s what they’ve done every game.”
Last game out Bluefield faced a top 16 ranked River View team and came out with a 49-12 win. Simon was both pleased and had some concerns about his team’s performance and looks to address those this week.
“I thought we played well in some spots and again there are some things we have got to improve on,” Simon commented. “Our line, defensive line and our linebackers are going to have to get better. I thought our secondary did better, but we’re going to have to prove that. The kickoff team did much better and we’ll keep going with that. Offensively we did fine, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Offensively, Bluefield racked up 381 yards against the Raiders, 297 of those coming on the ground. The Beavers rushing attack this season is led by Montel Leggett who has carried 110 times for 865 yards. Quarterback D.J. Edwards has called his own number 97 times and picked up 677 yards. Johnny David has picked up 582 yards on 83 carries and D.J. Stewart has toted the pigskin 62 times for 492 yards.
Look for the ground offensive to continue in Clear Fork tonight against the Renegades.
Westside comes into the contest having defeated Class A Tug Valley 34-30 last week. The Renegades have also beaten Wyoming East, Class A Man and Independence. Their losses have come against Liberty Raleigh 31-30 in the season-opener, at Mingo Central 37-24, and to then No. 1 Scott 37-12.
In the win over Tug Valley, tailback Mike Mullens rushed for 246 yards and scored four touchdowns and was named The Register-Herald Player of the Week in Beckley.
Westside coach Darren Thomas told the Register-Herald, “He just adds speed to our backfield. He’s a sophomore, and he worked in the weight room all winter. He’s just a good tailback for us. He runs hard. He’s strong. He’s not that big a kid, but he adds a lot to our running game.”
Simon is well-aware of Mullens and other tools the Renegades possess.
“On film they are young, like us in a lot of ways,” Simon observed. “They have a good sophomore quarterback (Justin Cogar), he’s good, a good sophomore running back (Mullens). They’re young but they’re quick. They’re fast and they’ve got some nice size. They’re a good football team.”
This is the second ever meeting between the two schools, the only meeting coming in the 2003 playoffs when Bluefield claimed a 35-8 win. Westside opened in 2001, a consolidation of Oceana and Baileysville High Schools.
Thomas told the Register-Herald that this meeting will let him evaluate where his team stands.
“Bluefield’s awful good, but we want to measure up and see where we stand,” said Thomas. “We want to be in their category each year — be a threat to make the playoffs and a consistent football team.”
Simon said they key for the Beavers is to play fundamental football and execute their assignments.
“We’ve just got to continue to get better at our blocking, at our tackling, our fundamentals and just keep getting better and really not focus on them (Westside), and really take care of ourselves in a lot of ways.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 and the broadcast can be heard on Eagle 100.9.