MORGANTOWN - Though its season ends Friday night at 7-2 Morgantown, the Brooke Bruins (3-6) get a little taste of postseason action when it takes on a Mohigans squad that is state-ranked in West Virginia Class AAA and coming off a dominant 35-14 win over University.
"There's no doubt that's how we've been approaching it," said Brooke head coach Sean Blumette. "Definitely this is our playoff game. It's a chance to show what we're capable of.
"We've won three of our last four and two in a row. This would be something to something to build on. To go into Morgantown, where Coach Bowers has continued to build on a strong program with a lot of talent, on their home field, in a nice environment, and play well is very important."
Adding to the game's importance is this is the first of two consecutive regular season games between the teams.
"It is even more important because it's where we open up next year," said Blumette. "It is slightly awkward in that regard because scheduling issues forced us to move this to the opener, but it makes it even more important to have a good showing."
Working in the Bruins favor is they have, for only the second time this season, the duo of seniors Alec Buchmelter and Raleigh Mason together in the lineup.
"It feels relieving actually," said Blumette. "All our weapons were available for first time since the Parkersburg game. We're still working Raleigh back in the mix. He had 20 carries against John Marshall and was a little winded.
"Just to have his presence on the field is huge though. He has an intangible the others feed off. Obviously it was great having Buck back in because the others fed off him all season.
"The others rallied around them last week especially in the tight moments of the game like the goal line stand. Those two bring a great deal of leadership and an X factor to the team.
"Without either of those two guys we found ourselves rutterless. Thankfully both weren't out together for extended time. When neither were available at Parkersburg South our kids looked for someone to step up.
"I have a comfort level where I know if we need a tough yard or a big play one of them will step up. Buck more so on offense and Raleigh more on defense, but if I need a tough yard I have two guys in my backfield that can step up."
On the year Buchmelter has completed 89 passes for 1,089 yards and nine scores to go with 287 rushing yards and six more touchdowns.
In limited time due to injury, Mason has 175 yards on the ground and two scores while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
A game like this also allows Blumette to continue to prepare his team for the future as the younger players have had the opportunity to face some of the best squads the state and area have to offer.
"With our freshmen, and even sophomores, we've played with them all year," he said. "They've seen the best this state has to offer. Wheeling Park, Morgantown this week, University, Point Pleasant, and Parkersburg South in West Virginia, and with St. Clairsville and Big Red we played almost all playoff teams and quality competition.
"The only way to get good at something is to do it. The more you get kids on the field the more comfortable they become. We've seen improvements throughout the course of the year.
"It's one thing to play teams that aren't as high caliber and look good, but when you play a team like Morgantown, which has been a top five team, it will set the stage for what they will be capable of down the road."
One of those youth, freshman Justin Loughrie has led the team in rushing this year with 413 stripes and five scores. He's also caught nine passes for 101 yards.
Sophomore Ryan Parrish leads the team with 67 total tackles while Loughrie is tops in solo tackles with 16. Junior Todd Clark has 6.5 sacks to rank first for the Bruins.
Kickoff Friday is 7:30 p.m.