HEDGESVILLE – Hedgesville entered Friday night’s final regular season with a dual mission:
First, the Eagles needed to win to qualify for the Class AAA playoffs, and second, coach Matt Faircloth wanted to give some of his seniors some action they hadn’t received.
Check and check.
The Eagles pretty much sewed their place in the playoffs before the end of the first quarter as they scored 28 points on their way to a 61-8 win over understaffed and beaten Hampshire.
The Eagles finished the regular season with a 5-5 and remained 16th in the West Virginia Secondary School Activity Commission standings and will face Parkersburg South on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Hedgesville would love to have the same kind of playoff start they did on their grass surface at Mumaw Stadium.
It took the Eagles two plays to score their first touchdown on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Jaxson Ruest to Xavier Kirk, who was then moved off the Hedgesville sideline on a stretcher.
There were 7:11 left in the first quarter, and by then the Trojans had to take a big sip for what was to come.
Hedgesville needed four plays on their next possession to score on a 51-yard touchdown by Jake Young.
Two snaps later, Young was back in the end zone with a 35-yard interception return.
Then, after the Eagles recovered an onside kick, Ruest hit Demonte Martin on a 15-yard fade pattern.
“We wanted to go out and play as a team,” Faircloth said, “something we haven’t done in the last two weeks. We wanted them to play together and rely on the guy next to them and not try not to do it. all themselves.”
Soon after, Martin reached the end zone again, this time on a 74-yard punt return, making it 35-0.
Braylon Conner ran for a 41-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 42-0 halftime lead.
Hunter Turner, one of the Hedgesville seniors, opened the second half with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Then Tanner Matthew rushed 26 yards on one inning for a touchdown with 7:11 left in the third quarter – time for another big sip.
Hedgesville added an 8-yard touchdown run from Ruest to make it 61-0.
The Eagles passed for 392 yards, including 340 rushing yards.
Hampshire had 103 yards, including 75 on a pass from Jensen Fields to Vinnie Greear.
“We wanted all the senior players to get hit,” Faircloth said, “trying to give some the opportunity to get into the end zone. Those seniors deserved it.”
And the Eagles demanded a playoff offer.