Keyser, Frankfort both at home tonight
By Chapin Jewell
MINERAL COUNTY- The stadium lights will be ablaze at both ends of Mineral County tonight as both Frankfort and Keyser host home football games.
In Short Gap, it will be a battle of unbeatens as 3-0 Frankfort hosts 3-0 Spring Mills. In Keyser, the 2-1 Golden Tornado hosts 1-2 Nicholas County.
It will be the first time in school history that Frankfort has hosted the top-ranked team in West Virginia’s AAA classification, as Spring Mills was rated number one in the just-released WVSSAC playoff ratings. In Keyser, it will be a rematch of two West Virginia class AA playoff teams from a year ago. Last year, Keyser defeated Nicholas County by a score of 63-0.
Frankfort is currently ranked third in the WVSSAC’s class AA playoff ratings with a rating of 10.33. The Falcons are behind top-ranked Bluefield (12.5) and second-ranked Oak Glen (11.33). Keyser is currently ranked 11th with a rating of 7.0; Nicholas County is currently ranked 21st with a rating of 3.0.
The Falcons are fresh off a dominating 41-0 victory over PVC-opponent Berkeley Springs. Frankfort raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead over the host Indians, then tacked on an additional touchdown in the second half for the 41-0 victory. Frankfort was led offensively by Jansen Moreland and Cole Hiett, each scoring two touchdowns. Additionally, Moreland tacked on an interception. The win advanced Frankfort’s record to 3-0.
Spring Mills has put up 55, 55, and 52 points respectively in wins against Washington, Hampshire and Jefferson. In their 52-28 victory over Jefferson, senior quarterback Keon Padmore-Johnson ran for 144 yards, passed for an additional 167 yards, and had a hand in four touchdowns. This adds to Padmore-Johnson’s impressive week one and week two performances that saw him have a hand in 14 total touchdowns.
“Spring Mills’ overall speed and athleticism concerns me. They have several guys that are very speedy. The quarterback is a very-good athlete who can run and throw, which is always very dangerous,” Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman stated. “He’s going to have a few big plays, we just can’t let them have too many big plays.”
“I think we can hang right there with them physically. I just worry about their overall team speed. I’m hoping they will be a little uncomfortable playing on grass for the first time,” Whiteman stated.
“It is a must that we have sustained drives on offense and burn some clock. I think we will be able to move the ball. I just hope we don’t work the clock and then give up a big play to them.”
According to Whiteman, “I know our kids are up for the challenge. You have two undefeated teams going to battle which makes it interesting. If we come ready to play, I think we will be right there at the end.”
This represents the first ever meeting between Frankfort and Spring Mills, with the Cardinals playing only their eighth year of football.
The Golden Tornado is seven days removed from a resounding 55-35 victory over the Washington Patriots in the Black and Gold’s home debut. Keyser scored the first touchdown of the game and led 28-13 at the half. A 27-22 advantage in the second half gave the Tornado the 55-35 victory. The Golden Tornado offense exploded for 627 yards, 501 on the ground and 126 through the air. Drae Allen led in the points production category as the senior fullback rushed for four touchdowns.
Nicholas County has been a party to three close games, a 29-27 loss to Shady Spring to open the season, a 16-14 road victory at Wyoming East in week two, and a 26-22 week three loss at Lincoln. Nicholas County scored 16 points in the second half, including a 19-yard field goal by Brayden Short to take a 22-20 lead with 1.9 seconds remaining in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, the final play of the game, Lincoln’s Zach Snyder fielded the ball at the 30, faked a lateral, then raced 70-yards to paydirt to defeat Nicholas County at the buzzer.
“I just told the defense the other day, it looks like we’re going to go against two completely different offenses. In one turn, they have three to four receivers and they’re throwing the ball around, and the next time they’re in the Power I running the ball,” Keyser coach Derek Stephen stated. “They’re green, young like we are. They lost 13-14 seniors last year and they’re in a similar situation like us, they’re trying to find themselves and they’re a pretty good team watching them on film.
“The big thing we need to do is cut down on our mental mistakes on the defensive side of the ball. We had a few miscues last week. But, if we can get lined up right and play our assignments, that will cut down on a lot of those things. Then, we just need to keep out offense firing on all cylinders as it has been with Gavin (Root), Zion (Powell) and Drae (Allen), then throw in Sammy Bradfield who can run the ball and Hunter VanPelt stepping on the stage now. We’ve got a bunch of guys that can tote it, we need to keep our offense going,” Stephen stated.
According to Stephen, “On offense, we’re playing pretty well, but we’re still making a lot of silly and young guy mistakes. I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we’re capable of being. With that being said, our defense is really young and they’re coming along, and they are about where we thought they would be right now. But, we’re hoping that they can keep climbing and keep climbing and getting better week after week and be able to hang with our offense.”
This marks the fourth meeting between Keyser and Nicholas County, with the Golden Tornado holding a 3-0 advantage over the Grizzlies. Keyser first defeated Nicholas County 35-20 in 1962’s state championship matchup, then 50-12 in 2016 and 63-0 in 2019.