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Sissonville gets second crack at No. 1 Wayne

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There will be no surprises for Sissonville this time.

The eighth-seeded Indians (10-1) know exactly what's in store when they travel to Wayne at 7:30 tonight to face the No. 1 and two-time defending state champion Pioneers (11-0) in the Class AA quarterfinals.

Sissonville lost at Wayne 58-19 during the regular season. The Pioneers have won 34 straight games, the longest active streak in West Virginia and a school record.

"It's a chance to avenge a loss,'' said Sissonville third-year coach Eddie Smolder. "They played really well and we played as awful as we could play.

"Our kids aren't going to be intimidated. They were nervous in that [first] game and we've played six or seven games since then and we've been in tight situations.''

Sissonville acquitted itself nicely after the debacle at Wayne, not losing another game the rest of the way to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Indians then won their first playoff game since 1994 with a 28-18 triumph over No. 9 Mingo Central.

"We can't get caught up in the atmosphere and the name,'' Smolder said of the rematch with Wayne. "[Our players have] been on that field, in that locker room and in that atmosphere. They were focused last time, but doubtful. We've played a lot better and improved each week.''

Pioneers starting quarterback Grant Ferguson sat out last week's 53-25 victory over No. 16 Philip Barbour with an ankle injury, which he sustained in the season finale at Bluefield. Ferguson has passed for 1,090 yards and 15 scores and is the third-leading rusher with 595 yards, averaging 10.1 yards per carry, with eight TDs.

The Indians get a boost with the return of wide receiver Houston Hill, who served a suspension in last week's win over Mingo Central. The 6-foot, 175-pound Hill, who was the second-leading pass catcher in the Cardinal Conference, had 31 receptions for 591 yards and a 19.1-yard average with seven touchdowns this season.

Wayne scored the first 38 points, including 31 in the second quarter, to put the game away early in the first meeting with Sissonville. The Pioneers ground out 479 yards rushing while the Indians fumbled five times, losing two.


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