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Wheeling Park too much for South Charleston

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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WHEELING, W.Va. -- The Wheeling Park High School football team exploited a sizeable advantage on the line and impressive lineage to advance to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday night.

Sophomore Savion Johnson ran for 195 yards on 34 carries and four touchdowns and the fifth-seeded Patriots converted a fourth-and-19 for a 26-yard touchdown pass en route to a 55-34 rout of No. 12 seed South Charleston at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The victory sends Wheeling Park to Point Pleasant next Friday or Saturday for a quarterfinal matchup with the Big Blacks, who dispatched of Logan 41-14 on Friday. The day and time will be determined on Sunday during a coaches meeting at the Secondary School Activities Commission offices in Parkersburg.

The Black Eagles (7-4), who were making their first playoff appearance since 2010, stacked the line of scrimmage against the larger Patriots, but to no avail.

"We went cover zero the entire night," South Charleston first-year coach Donnie Mays said. "It was just the matter of wrapping up. I told the kids at the beginning of the game there are three ways to win a football game, and it starts with tackling."

The visitors couldn't bring down the bullish Johnson, who is the son of 1991 Kennedy Award winner Daryl "Boogie" Johnson. Savion Johnson, the first 10th grader in Wheeling Park's 38-year history to rush for 1,000 yards, is now at 1,296 for the season.

The high-scoring affair began modestly with Wheeling Park scoring on a 59-yard drive in 4:05, capped by a Johnson 23-yard run, and SC answering with a 20-yard A.D. Cunningham touchdown run, which came two plays after Kentre Grier -- who led the Black Eagles with 117 yards on 11 carries -- broke for a 36-yarder.

That's when everything went downhill for South Charleston, which won the 2008 and 2009 Class AAA state titles on the same field.

Wheeling Park reached the SC 26, but after wide receiver Eric Banks dropped a touchdown pass, the Patriots -- whose kicker had a season-long 42-yard field goal in the opener -- opted to go for it.

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