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Sissonville on to quarterfinals with win against Mingo Central

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Lawrence Pierce
Sissonville's Nathan Miller stiff-arms Mingo Central's Dakweon Willis.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sissonville's Jarred Wilkinson was covered from head to toe in brown mud with a splash of red blood under his chin for good measure and a smile that stretched from ear to ear.

Wilkinson churned out 199 yards and two touchdowns to power the eighth-seeded Indians past No. 9 Mingo Central 28-18 Friday night for their first playoff win at Joe Sawyer Field in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs.

A crowd of about 1,500 attended the matchup of Cardinal Conference foes who didn't meet during the regular season.

Sissonville (10-1), which won its first postseason game since marching all the way to the state championship game in 1994, will get a rematch at No. 1 Wayne in next week's quarterfinals. The date and time will be set Sunday.

The Indians lost 58-19 at Wayne during the regular season. Until Friday, Sissonville held all its home playoff games at Laidley Field.

"It really is a big deal for a lot of us,'' said Wilkinson of the playoff win. "We made history. We pulled it together. We had to do something on defense. We ended up stepping it up.''

Wilkinson led a ground attack that galloped for 369 yards on 66 carries. Dominic Walker, Wilkinson's running mate in the Indians' backfield, added 135 yards on 20 carries for good measure.

That was a much-needed lift as Sissonville wide receiver Houston Hill, the second-leading pass catcher in the Cardinal Conference who was averaging 19 yards per grab, served his suspension for getting thrown out in the Indians' season finale at Braxton County last week for fighting.

"All year we've prided ourselves on being a second-half team,'' said Sissonville third-year coach Eddie Smolder, a former standout at Ripley High School and Marshall.

"Our kids are in shape. We could play six or seven quarters. We just knew that second half was ours. I just told the kids at halftime, 'Refuse to lose.' Mingo is a good team and they came out fired up and gave us a run for our money. The kids banded together and fought.''

The Indians were mired in the muck in the opening half as Wilkinson's 10-yard scoring run with 1:23 left before halftime gave them just a 6-0 lead.

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