SHORT GAP - A season ago, the Frankfort/Petersburg matchup in Short Gap was pivotal in terms of Frankfort making a return to the class AA playoffs. The Falcons entered the contest with a 6-1 record, needing a win to stay playoff viable. Petersburg, 4-1 at the time, had playoff aspirations of their own.

By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - A season ago, the Frankfort/Petersburg matchup in Short Gap was pivotal in terms of Frankfort making a return to the class AA playoffs. The Falcons entered the contest with a 6-1 record, needing a win to stay playoff viable. Petersburg, 4-1 at the time, had playoff aspirations of their own.
In the end, Frankfort’s convincing 48-20 victory over the Vikings would help secure a playoff spot for the Falcons as the Short Gap bunch would finish 8-2. Petersburg, for their part, would finish the regular season 7-2 and ultimately secure a playoff spot of their own.
This year’s matchup has a slightly different feel to it. Gone are Petersburg’s very successful head coach Kevin Board; gone also are a talented crop of Viking players who have moved on to the collegiate ranks. Already with three losses to Pendleton County, Keyser and Weir, with Frankfort and then three-straight class A teams to close the season, the chances of Petersburg making the playoffs are significantly slimmer than last year.
While Petersburg currently sits ten places outside of the 16-team playoff bubble in the 26th spot, Frankfort, by contrast, is currently right in the thick of things. With their impressive 54-29 victory over Washington during the Falcons’ Homecoming game last Friday, Frankfort currently sits nicely in the seventh playoff spot in the WVSSAC’s current ratings.
While a tough matchup looms for Frankfort in the tenth and final regular season game against Keyser, the Falcons are a prohibitive favorite in their other two remaining games, against Petersburg this week and then Hampshire the next. Despite being favored against the Vikings and Trojans, there is zero margin for a slip up in the ultra-competitive class AA playoff field.
Is Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman worried about a post-Homecoming let-down for his Falcons?  “I’m not too concerned about a let-down. This team usually stays focused and they know they can’t afford not to focus knowing that the playoffs are on the line,” Whiteman explained.
Whiteman sees the 2019 version of the Petersburg Vikings as sort of a different animal than the 2018 version. Nonetheless, the Falcons recognize that Petersburg can’t be treated lightly. According to Whiteman, “Yes, Petersburg lost some good talent; the quarterback was very impressive last year. I think one of the bigger differences will be that they are more of a running team than they were the last few years. They still thrown the ball but less than in the past.”
“They have a new coach with Winston Redman.  It’s nice for him to be able to coach where he played,” Whiteman stated.  
A season ago, both Frankfort and Petersburg fell in their first round playoff matchups; Frankfort fell at Bridgeport and finished the season with an 8-3 record; Petersburg fell at Nicholas County and finished the season with a record of 7-3.
So far this season, Frankfort stands currently with a 6-1 record and can claim victories over Moorefield (35-2), East Hardy (41-0), Berkeley Springs (48-0), Northern Garrett (28-21), Mountain Ridge (35-20) and Washington (54-29). The Falcons’ lone loss was a one-point defeat at Weir (28-27). Frankfort is literally one play away from being undefeated and have outscored their opponents on average 38-14 per game.
Petersburg (3-3) can claim victories over Berkeley Springs (25-14), Hampshire (29-14) and Philip Barbour 36-0. The Vikings’ losses have come to Pendleton County (25-16), the number one ranked class A team in the state of West Virginia, to Keyser (59-0), the number two ranked class AA team in the state, and to Weir (40-6).  Petersburg has been outscored on averaged 25-19 per game.
All-time, Frankfort enjoys a successful 32-4 record against Petersburg, winning 89 percent of all games played.  Of note, however, is that two of Petersburg’s wins against the Falcons have come in the last four years. As noted, Frankfort did defeat the Vikings 48-20 last year; Petersburg had taken two out of three from Frankfort prior to that.
Currently, Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman has an all-time record at Frankfort against Petersburg of 8-1.  As Whiteman looks to extend his record in the series to 9-1, he explains what he sees are the keys to victory for the Falcons: “We need to go out and start fast and not let up.  We have done a decent job the last few weeks of playing the entire game. We still need to minimize some of our mental mistakes.”
According to Whiteman, “Hopefully we can have some sustained drives and keep them from making big plays.”
The Falcons are doing the vast majority of their damage on the ground, outgaining opponents in the running game 2,308 yards to 1,007, more than doubling up the opponents’ output. Senior Nick Marley is leading the way with 1,017 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns; JJ Blank has added 10 rushing touchdowns; Peyton Shanholtz has added six rushing touchdowns; Jansen Moreland has crossed the goal line three times.
As the Falcons travel to Petersburg tonight, they look to improve their record to 7-1 overall and to inch closer to securing a playoff spot.  Frankfort currently sits seventh in the class AA playoff ratings, a spot that if the season ended today, would not only secure them a playoff spot, but a first-round playoff game. That’s a well-earned yet envious position, one they want to hold on to.