Back in March a 16 seed, UMBC stunned a 1 Seed, Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It marked the first time a 16 seed defeated a 1 seed in the tournament's history. The history of sports upsets also include the 1969 Miracle Mets, Joe Namath and the Jets' victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III, and Appalachian State's victory over Michigan. So you're saying there's a chance?
"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing the premiere team in the state," said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor. "We will have to be patient, there is nothing wrong with getting a couple of first downs and punting. Martinsburg tackles as well as any team I have seen this year. If they get you behind the sticks they make you panic."
The 5 teams from WV who have played Martinsburg experienced that panic first hand. In those 5 games Martinsburg outscored their opponents 322-3.
"Martinsburg executes its offense proficiently," adds Skins DC Pratt Their players take pride in doing their jobs and executing."
Martinsburg (10-1) is led by QB Grant Harmon, who has thrown for 20 TDs against only 3 interceptions, completing 72% of his passes for 1080 yards on the season. When getting a break Harmon gives way to Eli Banks, who has thrown 13 TD passes of his own.
Defensively Harmon may also be the Bulldogs top player, a defensive back with a nose for the ball, he is a 2-time AAA All State player on defense.
Hurricane is led by Christian Hill (251-1430-10) who finished the regular season as the 2nd leading rusher in the MSAC.
However to have any chance against the Bulldogs, Hurricane must get more out of their passing game than they have most of the season, as leading QB Nathan Roy has only passed for 383 yards on the season.
Defensively the Redskins are led by J.T. Cooper who has amassed 113 tackles on the season. Cooper will need to play the game of his life on the defense side against Martinsburg who appear to offer up a combination of the best of Spring Valley, Capital and Parkersburg. As they have talented receivers, running backs and a QB who can hurt you running as well as throwing.
Cooper will have support from fellow seniors Cameron Kimble, Blake Ross, Walker James, and Charlie Womack on defense. This squad has played well all season. "We have to execute on every play and play with great fundamental and without mental errors, says Pratt. "If we do that and win special teams, we will be right there with a chance to beat anyone."
Notes: Hurricane is 2-0 vs. Martinsburg. Both wins came in the playoffs, 12-7 in 1993 and 26-21 in 2005. Hurricane has only won 4 other playoffs games all-time and own a 6-20 overall post season record. 2 of those victories have come in the last 2 seasons, topping University in 2016 and Hedgesville a year ago. Hurricane has only 1 home playoff victory which occurred vs. Spring Valley in 2010.
Prediction: Hurricane will come out and let Martinsburg know that this WILL be a football game. I look for the Redskins to score early and the defense to frustrate the Bulldogs, making for a competitive contest at halftime. However the talent of this Martinsburg team runs deep and will wear out the Redskins in the later stages.......and for that reason I will pick against Hurricane for the first time EVER.......
Lord I seriously hope and prey I am wrong!