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Valley gets tough draw in first round

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Bob Wojcieszak
Valley's Keyshawn Payne is stopped mid-air by Meadow Bridge's Ryan Church on Oct. 4 in Montgomery.

SMITHERS, W.Va. - It took parts of five decades for Valley High School football coach Benny Hopkins to achieve regular season perfection.

But the longtime Greyhounds coach got a mere 24 hours to celebrate the achievement.

After the Greyhounds capped off the first 10-0 regular season in school history Friday, the program took Saturday off to relish the accomplishment before diving back in on Sunday.

"You don't have a lot of time for things to sink in," said Hopkins of the quick turnaround from regular season to post season. "You go from extreme to the other in playing on Friday night and getting ready to play the next weekend.

"You go to the meeting and then you've got to get ready to go. You can enjoy a day or so, but then you've got to start getting ready for next week."

Valley's regular season accomplishment earned it the No. 3 spot in the Class A playoffs and a first-round meeting with No. 13 Magnolia (6-4). The teams will square off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at University of Charleston Stadium.

When they do, Hopkins knows his team will have to be well prepared against a Magnolia team that enters as one of the hottest in the state.

After a 2-3 start, the Blue Eagles finished the season 4-1, with its only loss being an 11-9 defeat to unbeaten and second-rated St. Marys.

"I know that the last half of the season, they've been pretty doggone tough," Hopkins said. "They've beaten some good people. I saw them scrimmage earlier in the year and they had a little bit of problem at the beginning of the season, but in the last half they've played awfully well.

"We're going to have to be prepared because we're going to play a real good football team."

Magnolia is led by a trio of seniors in quarterback Jake Brill, running back Drew Keller, and receiver Eric Smith.

Brill has connected on 67-of-109 passes for 1,023 yards, 11 TDs and one interception, while Smith has pulled in 33 passes for 582 yards and seven scores.

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