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Martins Ferry, Harrison set to clash Friday

CADIZ – Coming off a stinging 27-6 setback at county rival St. Clairsville last Friday night, Coach Chas Yoder’s Martins Ferry football team goes straight from the frying pan into the fire with a trip to 3-1 Harrison Central this week.

Coach Anthony’s Hayes’ Huskies got back into the win column following their initial loss of the season the previous week with an impressive 40-20 triumph over an improving Union Local team.

“We have been a little dinged up, but we have a lot of capable young men on the field,” Hayes commented. “The kids have been great on the field and I am so proud of our young offensive line. There is just one senior on the line, and we have kids playing out of position all over the place, but the coaches have done a great job getting them all mentally prepared.”

After allowing 289 yards against the Red Devils last week the Purple Riders will have to stop Harrison Central senior do-it-all Kobe Mitchell this week. Mitchell, who accounted for 269 yards against the Jets, averages nearly 300 yards a game himself through the air and on the ground.

Mitchell completed 14 of 22 passes for 212 yards and two scores a week ago while rushing for 57 more on nine carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns on the ground. But he has been anything but a one-man show with junior Nathan Bertolino rushing for 75 yards and a score on nine totes last week and classmates Trevor Carman and Jonathan Vermillion combining for 11 catches for 183 yards and two scores.

Harrison Central also has the ability for the big play with three of its touchdowns against Union Local coming from at least 44 yards away.

“They are a good football team and their record speaks for itself,” Yoder commented. “They have one of the best football players in the area. They like to run and gun and we have to find a way to prevent the big play while getting back to what we are capable of doing on offense.

“Both of our losses have come to good opponents, which is really a good thing to see Ohio Valley football doing well, but we know we can’t take anyone lightly and this is going to be another challenge. If we are going to be successful Friday night we are going to need to play very sound football.”

Big plays were a thing that hurt the Purple Riders at St. Clairsville with the Red Devils connecting on an 87-yard scoring strike and also returning an interception 40 yards for a score.

“We gave up a couple of easy touchdowns last week, including a long touchdown pass that was way too easy,” Yoder said. “There were also too many missed tackles. We need to take better angles and make sure we are doing our jobs and following our assignments on every play.”

Martins Ferry does also have a little pop in its offensive attack with seniors Chase Goff (15-54) and Evan Carpenter (14-56-td) on the ground and classmate Logan Smith back under center after an early season injury. Smith was 8 of 19 for 102 yards last week, but did throw a pair of interceptions. He did a good job distributing the football with three different receivers catching a pair of passes.

“This is a typical Martins Ferry football team that is physical, plays hard and is very well coached,” Hayes added. “And they have one of the best players in the valley in the Carpenter kid. Their quarterback is very capable, and they are strong on the line on both sides of the football.

“We try treating every team the same week in and week out, but you know when you are facing a good program and good programs do not happen by accident. Hopefully our kids can rise to the challenge again this week.”

While the Huskies will be trying to push their record three games over the .500 mark for the first time since week nine of the 2016 season, both teams enter the contest with hopes of securing at least one home playoff game when the shortened six-game regular season comes to a close.

The Purple Riders have won the last three contests in the series, scoring over 50 points twice, and came away with a hard-fought 42-39 last season. Harrison Central’s last win in the series was a 26-0 blanking in 2016.

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