CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A funny thing happened on the way to the Super Six.
Well, it's more like a couple dozen things, and absolutely none of them are funny. Most all of them, however, can play a significant role in the high school football playoffs that are set to begin a month from Friday.
Each week, Daily Mail sportswriter Tom Bragg and I sit down for about an hour on a Sunday night to record a high school football podcast, with a new episode available each Monday (and linked above). As part of the podcast, I do a weekly rundown of the top five Kennedy Award candidates entering the current week's games.
This week, I mistakenly inserted Hedgesville senior quarterback Troy Markley into the top five. After all, Markley leads the state in passing yards, leads the Eagles with 402 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and has Hedgesville in the thick of the Class AAA playoff hunt, which is a rarity for the Berkeley County school.
There's one problem with this: Markley dislocated his elbow on his throwing arm during the Eagles' final possession of a 42-34 loss to Musselman on Friday night. He probably won't take another snap this season, Eagles Coach Rich Thomaselli told The (Martinsburg) Journal.
Injuries are part of every football season, but I am hard-pressed to remember another season in which so many key injuries have occurred to so many playoff contenders. In fact, Musselman quarterback Trevon Wesco - who was a Daily Mail Preseason All-State selection as a wide receiver before the Applemen moved him behind center - suffered a serious knee injury earlier in the game Friday night.
Hedgesville and Musselman are each 4-2, and each has a game remaining against three-time defending state champion Martinsburg in which it will be a heavy underdog. There's not much margin for error for either team.
A closer look around the state shows, however, that the aforementioned schools are far from alone in their predicaments.
In Class AAA, Wheeling Park running back Bryce Ingram, a 2012 All-State pick and a preseason Daily Mail selection, has missed considerable time due to numerous injuries. His first action came against University in Week 4, and he was injured again in the Patriots' loss at Morgantown last week.
Ingram has carried just 33 times this season for 361 yards and six touchdowns.
Closer to home, Capital senior linebacker Khalil Bush, a three-year starter, has not played a snap in the regular season after suffering a leg fracture in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-O-Rama. He could return for the playoffs, but an exact date has not been determined.
Not everything is as cut-and-dry as an injury, either. There's still no telling what will come of Martinsburg's case against the SSAC as it concerns the eligibility of senior quarterback Malique Watkins. A hearing for permanent injunction is scheduled for Oct. 25, but even then the SSAC has the opportunity to appeal any ruling against it with almost three weeks before the playoffs start.