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Huntington coach: 'Martinsburg is the team to beat'

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Craig Cunningham
Huntington's Charles Crawford

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. - Huntington High School was rewarded with the top seed for the Class AAA football playoffs Sunday after the Highlanders wrapped up their first unbeaten regular season in school history Friday night at Winfield.

The top billing didn't seduce Huntington Coach Billy Seals into a case of overconfidence at the Secondary School Activities Commission offices Sunday morning.

"We're (number) one according to the ratings. Let's just face it: Martinsburg is the team to beat," Seals said. "It is what it is. I'm a firm believer that to be the man, you gotta beat the man."

References to professional wrestling legend Ric Flair aside, Seals said the top seed is reflective of his team's achievements through a regular season that saw the Highlanders claim their first Mountain State Athletic Conference championship.

"We're glad to be number one. I think we're right in the hunt. I think it's as wide open as it's been since I've been here, to be honest with you," he said.

Huntington will open its quest for a state championship at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday when it plays host to No. 16 seed Lewis County (7-3).

Martinsburg (9-1), in its quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Class AAA state championship, is the No. 2 seed and will play 15th-seeded Spring Valley (7-3) on Saturday afternoon.

Third-seeded Capital (9-1) plays No. 14 seed Hurricane (6-4) in the first round while No. 8 seed George Washington (8-2) hosts No. 9 Oak Hill (8-2) and No. 12 South Charleston (7-3) plays at No. 5 Wheeling Park (9-1) on the same night.

GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. echoed Seals' sentiment about the field's openness.

"It is a really good field, and a tough field," Edwards said. "There's a lot of tough outs. That's what we strive for. We want to be the best we can, be as healthy as we can, get some luck and be a tough out, and there's a lot of those kind of teams that are going to be tough outs."

There are two regular-season rematches among the list of first-round games in Class AAA. Logan (8-2), seeded 13th, plays at No. 4 seed Point Pleasant (10-0) on Friday night. No. 11 seed Morgantown (8-2) visits rival and No. 6 seed University (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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