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Steve Novotney Says, "Peaking Is Good. Very Good."

It's all about peaking at the right time when the high school football playoffs begin in West Virginia and that just might be happening right now for the last remaining Wheeling-based squad now preparing for the second round of the Class A postseason.

"Our players have improved through the course of the season, they know their positions, and they know now what their opponents are going to try to do and they have learned to adapt," Central Catholic head coach Mike Young said. "I say most of the time that it's about blocking and tackling, but really, it's about making plays that our young men know they can make and that's what has been happening for us for a lot of games in a row."

Wheeling Park High's attempt to defend its Class AAA failed when losing to George Washington 37-6 last weekend; Weir High advanced to round two in the Class AA bracket with a comeback, 29-27 win over at No. 4 Sissonville; and the Maroon Knights defeated No. 11 Sherman, 45-8, to earn a three-hour trip to the New River Gorge area. Wheeling Central entered the second season ranked sixth in the Single-A division and the Red Riders rested at No. 13.

"We got here doing what we do and by improving what we do during the course of our season," Young said. "Now we are working hard to strengthen the weaknesses that we do have so we can extend our season and keep after the ultimate goals we set at the very beginning of the season.

"Fayetteville is a quick and aggressive team and they have a quarterback who is 6-foot-6 and throws the ball very well," the veteran Wheeling Central coach said. "And they have a couple of good receivers and a running back that plays pretty well, but this will be the first time that our team maybe bigger than our opponent."

The Pirates, Young said, utilize a similar Wing-T offensive scheme orchestrated by the sixth-seed Maroon Knights throughout Young tenure at the parochial high school. "But they run it with the quarterback under center and we do it most of the time from the gun," he explained. "Our defense will need to be very aggressive to get the job done."

Young and his football team will travel to Beckley to spend Friday evening before the second-round matchup set for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday afternoon.

"We'll eat lunch at 11:30 p.m. and then have a short practice before getting showers in our newly renovated locker room, and then we'll depart Wheeling around 2 p.m. We'll make few stops on the way down to Charleston where we'll have dinner, and then go to our hotel in Beckley to get a good night's rest.

"The weather is not supposed to be the greatest but that's not something we can control. The weather people are saying now that there could be a rain-snow mix during the game but we played a very good game against Shadyside a few weeks ago and it rained most of the game," he said. "All we'll have to do is concentrate on playing Maroon Knight football."

Our own John Blackmore will lead the Watchdog broadcast team Saturday afternoon as AM 1600 WKKX is set to broadcast the Maroon Knight-Fayetteville game at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Only after the battle against the third-seeded Pirates, Young insisted, will he, his coaching staff, and his players will look ahead in the Class A bracket. St. Mary's will host Gilmer County at Hanlin Stadium this evening at 7:30 p.m.

"For us, it's one play, one quarter, one game at a time," the head coach said. "It may sound like a cliché but we don't care. That's how we go about it and it's worked pretty well for us. That's why we'll worry about the next round when it's time for the next round."