By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The second leg on the No. 5 Bluefield Beavers’ journey to Wheeling and the quest for an 11th state championship takes the team to Clarksburg to face the No. 4 rated Robert C. Byrd Eagles in the West Virginia Class AA quarterfinals tonight.
The Beavers (9-2) are coming off an opening round 63-27 win over Roane County. In that contest Bluefield posted its first points on the board 12 seconds into the contest and dispatched of the Raiders fairly early, building a 41-7 halftime advantage.
Bluefield’s powerful ground attack rolled up 435 yards with Montel Leggett leading the way with 120. Quarterback D.J. Edwards ran for 70, Johnny David 67 and D.J. Stewart 57 as they each saw action for just a tad bit over two quarters. Edwards completed three-of-four passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, both to Justin Carter.
On the Roane County game, Beavers head coach Fred Simon said, “I thought they had a good team, thought they had good size. I thought our defense played a little bit better, our offense did a nice job, special teams were back on track. I thought we played a good opening round. Overall I was pleased with the opening round, now we’ve got to continue on.”
Meanwhile, in Clarksburg on Saturday night Robert C. Byrd had a tough time with the Braxton County Eagles. Braxton County built a lead only to see RCB come back in the second half to gain the victory.
Braxton County out-ran RCB 258-195, but RCB had the edge in passing 93-44. Tre Cox carried for 140 yards in the game.
For the season the Eagles were led in rushing by Ben D’Annunzio who picked up 1,295 yards with 14 touchdowns. Cox carried 100 times for 891 yards and 13 scores. Quarterback Aaron Taylor connected on 51-of-95 passes for 951 yards and 16 scores and two interceptions. The Eagles’ leading receivers are Mason Compton, 24 catches for 396 yards and Iziah Hill, 20 catches for 452 yards.
Defensively Jermodd Garrett had 119 tackles with 13 sacks for the season. Isaiah Holyfield had 64 tackles with six sacks.
Byrd (10-1) is playing its first season in Class AA, after being a AAA school since its opening in the 1990s. The Eagles’ lone loss this season came at the hands of the Bridgeport Indians, the third rated team in the Class AA playoff field that defeated River View in the first round last Sataurday. Simon has watched video of RCB and is well aware of the weapons they possess.
“I know that No. 4 (Ben D’Annunzio) is a good running back, No. 11 (Mason Compton) is a good receiver and No. 4 (D’Annunzio) also plays at quarterback. No. 42 (Tre Cox) is a good running back and No. 2 (Iziah Hill) is a good receiver,” Simon observed. “They have some good skill kids and they can score quickly. They have big kids, a pretty aggressive defense, so again, as you’re going up the ladder this is a team that is good. We will have to play well to win.”
Bluefield and Robert C. Byrd have played two games, in 2008 and 2009, both Bluefield wins. In 2009 the Beavers defeated the Eagles at Mitchell Stadium, the last year Bluefield won a state championship. This will be the first playoff meeting between the two schools.
Bluefield will be playing its 63rd playoff game in school history. The Beavers have a 49-13 postseason record that includes 10 state championships.
The Beavers enter the game injury-free following their first-round playoff encounter against Roane County, and Simon pointed out what he thinks will be the key to a Bluefield victory.
“We have to play well in all phases of the game, don’t turn the ball over and our special teams have got to play well. If we do that, we’ll have a chance,” Simon said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 on the Robert C. Byrd campus in Clarksburg. The radio broadcast will be on Eagle 100.9 with the pregame show beginning at 7 p.m.
— Contact Bob Redd at email@example.com