ST. MARYS, W.Va. - Back from a year hiatus in the Class A postseason, head coach Jodi Mote's St. Marys Blue Devils earned the No. 5 seed after winning its final eight games en route to a 9-1 record.
As it turned out, the Blue Devils' opponent in the first round of the playoffs will be a familiar foe in Wirt County, which rallied from a 22-7 deficit in the fourth quarter at Imlay Field on Aug. 31 to score an improbable 35-22 triumph.
The rematch, set to take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Pleasants County, might feature the same two teams, but they've both grown a lot throughout the course of the campaign. Coach Mote was quick to point one thing out to his team after they learned the Tigers would be their opponent.
JAY W. BENNETT Special to The Times
St. Marys quarterback Andrew Cosper, pictured here taking a snap during pregame warmups, had a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown during the Blue Devils’ 40-12 victory against Doddridge County last Friday night at Imlay Field.
"Kids are kids. They just are," Mote admitted of how any team would want to get revenge for their lone regular season loss. "In 2010, Williamstown was in the same boat and I'm sure those kids were all pumped up about wanting another shot and they went to Elizabeth and Wirt took care of them again.
"That's something Wirt County has in their hip pocket. (Revenge) is definitely not our focus. You just got to focus on it being the playoffs and the first game."
One thing which most definitely has the attention of everyone associated with the Blue Devils is Wirt County sophomore quarterback Josh Trembly, who engineered the 28-point fourth quarter rally.
"I knew Trembly was the real deal whenever I watched their scrimmage and watched the Moorefield game," Mote said. "I was just impressed with him when we prepared for week two of the season and nothing has changed that. If anything, it's just strengthened that.
"He's just so elusive. His speed and arm strength, it's amazing really. He's just a tremendous athlete. As a sophomore, it's just hard to believe he does the things he does. He's just so tough. It's like backyard football with him and he just puts so much pressure on your secondary and your front."
Of course, coach Mote also was quick to point out "he's got good skill kids around him and the line does a nice job for them, but he makes them go, no doubt about it.
"Defensively, it was hard to evaluate them with Moorefield and their scrimmages, but after watching their season unfold and going back and watching our game you realize the quickness and speed they have as a team. They have some good athletes."
As the start of the year, the St. Marys coaching staff made the decision to move all-Little Kanawha Conference guard Derek Barnhart to fullback and the Blue Devils' running attack hasn't missed a beat. On top of that, quarterback Andrew Cosper has made great strides from the start of the season as he's gotten plenty of help from running backs David Gray and Noah Spitzer.
"The question was could we afford to move him. That was the key," noted Mote, who obviously has liked the results.
Obviously, like any other game against a good team limiting turnovers and not doing things out of character will be key if the Blue Devils are to advance to the state quarterfinals.
"We're a run oriented team and I don't think you revamp everything just to get an edge so to speak," Mote admitted. "I just think there are a lot of similarities between the two teams."