KEYSER - Mingo Central will travel to the state’s eastern panhandle and will attempt to weather the storm as they take on the Golden Tornado of Keyser tonight. This is the school’s first-ever playoff game in only their second season since the consolidation.
The Miners squeezed into the Class Double-A playoffs with a 40-0 win over Herbert Hoover last Friday night. This made their record 5-5, but they also had to get some help from several other teams to pick up bonus points.
Tolsia, Wyoming East and River View all won, which helped coach Yogi Kinder’s squad moved from No. 20 into the top 16 to the 15th spot. The top 16 teams in each classification make the playoffs in West Virginia.
Coach Yogi Kinder said his team did not quit and fought hard in the last game. He told his squad that regardless of the regular season, all teams heading into the playoffs are now 0-0.
“We have to go up there and play as hard as we can,” Kinder told his players. “We have had very good practices this week.”
“Our kids are ready to play and they have prepared,” Kinder said. They practiced at Mountaineer (WVU) field on Thursday evening. “The kids were very excited about that. That is something to remember for life as a football player.”
Keyser comes into the game ranked No. 2. They had been ranked No. 1 for much of the season, but were overtaken by Wayne for the top spot in the last week.
“Keyser has a very well coached football team with a lot of very good players with size and speed,” Kinder said of the Miners opponent. “The big fullback-linebacker is one of the best in the entire state in any class.”
“Their offensive line is big with a lot of experience,” Kinder added. “But the defense is where they are very strong. They have a lot of players back from last year’s team. We have our hands full this week, but our young kids are looking forward to it.”
The Golden Tornado has three good running backs that the Miner’s defense will have to contain. They are Danny Fife who has rushed for 976 yards and 18 touchdowns, Blake Ravenscroft who ran for 886 yards and 10 TDs and Garrett Crites who has 642 yards and five scores. Keyser has had 12 different players score rushing touchdowns this season.
Quarterback Cody Eversole has completed 28 passes for 414 yards and only three TDs. So Keyser is basically a running football team. Eversole has also gained 215 yards on the ground and had a pair of TDs. When he throws the football he looks for Crites, Dakota Proud or Amonte Turner. Those are his primary targets.
Keyser is coached by Sean Biser. Their only loss this season came at the hands of Allegheny, Maryland and that was only by two points, 14-12. The Golden Tornado has scored over 40 points three times. In one game they rolled up 60 and in another 51 points. So they have a powerful offense.
The school has one well known alumnus, former major league baseball player John Kruk, who is currently an ESPN commentator.
Mingo Central will rely heavily on senior all-state tailback Joe May who has scored 18 touchdowns and has rushed for over 1,200 yards this season. May is also a weapon on the screen and jet passes and has returned punts and kickoffs for TDs.
Senior Matt Lester will start at quarterback, while senior Joe Hall will be at fullback. Junior Alex Lee is the primary target on pass plays, but he also gets touches out of the backfield and runs back kicks on special teams.
Seniors Garth Simpkins, Davey Ward and Israel Reynolds, along with junior Drew Kirk, anchor the defense for Mingo Central.
The Miners have a young team with only nine seniors on the roster. They left to head north at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.
“We have come a long way in the last few weeks. I sure would like to practice for a few more weeks. I just hope our team likes making it to the playoffs and looks forward to this every year. This is a great group of kids we have Mingo Central and I look forward to coaching them for some time,” Kinder added.