The Redskins (3-4) have played some extremely tough competition thus far this season, Spring Valley, Capital and Huntington. But they have not faced a trio as good as they will tonight when they face off against Parkersburg (4-3).
The Big Reds feature the #1 Passer, Rusher, and Receiver in the MSAC.
QB Jake Johnson tops the conference with 1572 passing yards and 18 TD passes.
His top target is Penn State commit Brendon Strange, who despite missing 2 games to start the season, leads the MSAC with 590 yards receiving.
The final member of the trio is RB Tyler Moler, who after a school record 309 yards against GW last week, now leads the conference with 1095 rushing yards. Moler whose stature and running style (and jersey number) seem to be a mirror image on Hurricane's Christian Hill (3rd in MSAC with 965 yards).
With Hill and Moler basically cancelling one another out, and with Hurricane's defense, especially against the rush, superior to that of the Big Reds, it appears that the Redskins have an advantage here.
However the pass game is decidedly in favor of Parkersburg. Strange is a force and the Big Reds move the ball around among other talented pass catchers. Hurricane's secondary will be tested often tonight as Parkersburg will mix plenty of passes in their a slew of game planning weapons.
Looking at Hurricane's pass game, it is evident that this has been a hole in the Skins offense. Nathan Roy has been limited to 27 completions on 63 attempts for only 279 yards. Without contributions from the pass game can Coach Taylor's squad stay with the offensive machine that Parkersburg has been during their 3 game winning streak?
Speaking of Taylor, he will not be allowed to coach tonight due to his 1 game suspension after being tossed from last week's mess at Huntington. We may see more of Hill at QB which Taylor instituted last week for the first time.
"I believe the kids are ready and our program is bigger than one person. I have faith in my staff and we have put a good game plan together for tonight. I look for us to play well and come out on top."
Defensive Coordinator Jason Pratt added, "Parkersburg is a team that keeps getting better every week. They are coming here expecting to win and solidify their spot in the playoffs. If we win situations in all 3 phases of the game, dont turn over the ball, and dont give them easy points we will have a chance to win."
There is much at stake for Hurricane tonight. Assuming the Redskins take care of business after tonight against two teams (South Charleston and St. Albans) that have 1 win between them, a win tonight will see Hurricane finish with 6 wins.
However a loss against the Big Reds would potentially leave Hurricane at 5-5 at best, and although that should still be good enough to make the playoffs, it would leave them playing at a 1st round opponent the likes of Spring Valley, Martinsburg, or Huntington.
A 6-4 finish may have Hurricane facing Ripley, Parkersburg South or Hedgesville. A HUGE difference indeed.
After not playing for 10 years the teams have split games the last 2 seasons, each winning at home convincingly, Hurricane 31-18 in 2016 and Parkersburg 35-7 a season ago. The 2016 victory was Hurricane first and only victory over Parkersburg as the Big reds lead the series 5-1.
All but 1 expert in the Charleston Daily Mail have Parkersburg winning tonight, including our old friend Nick Scala, they also all have Capital beating Huntington which is another story. Perhaps Tyler Joesph's Pet Cheetah Jason will be a guess Guru next week.
Wherever Coach Taylor is tonight he will enjoy what he sees. Behind a ball control offense, a stellar performance by the defense, and a decidedly superior special teams effort, his Redskins prevail. Dont believe the hype.........