Oak Glen runs into hot Wheeling Central squad

WHEELING — Don’t look now, but after playing one of the toughest Class A football schedules in the state of West Virginia and struggling to stay at or near the .500 mark all year, Wheeling Central has punched its ticket to the playoffs again.

Coach Mike Young’s 5-4 squad, which will be one of those teams that nobody wants to play in the postseason, still has business at hand in the regular season as 2-7 Oak Glen pays a visit to Bishop Schmitt Field on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University Friday night. A victory could move the Maroon Knights a little further up the rankings.

Central has won two in a row and three of their previous four, including last week’s 50-0 thumping of then once-beaten Madonna on the road.

“We have really improved the last few weeks,” Young said. “And I know we are peaking at the right time with a statement win against a good 7-1 record team last week. The toughness of our schedule is starting to show. The physicality of our defense really came through against Madonna, and we need to continue to play with that mindset and toughness. It is all about executing, blocking and tackling.

“I know we have four losses, but we have lost to some pretty good football teams in Martins Ferry, Steubenville Central and Linsly. And we took a really good East Hardy team to the limits down there also.”

Meanwhile, coach Ted Arneault’s youthful, banged-up Golden Bears have been heading in the other direction, losing five consecutive outings and allowing a minimum of 48 points in four of those losses. Included in that was a 69-25 setback to Beaver Local a week ago. Both of Oak Glen’s triumphs have been over teams with 0-10 records.

“Win or lose we always give it our all, but we are really pretty banged-up after facing a very physical Beaver Local team last week,” Arneault said. “But we had a good day of practice on Monday. It is also big for us to try and send our seniors out with a win. This has become a very close football team, and I believe our seniors have set a good tone for coming years.”

Probably the biggest bright spot for the Bears has been the play of freshman quarterback Nick Chaney, who is 102-of-242 through the air for 1,454 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 picks. Chaney threw three touchdown passes against the Beavers.

Oak Glen had 17 rushes for 76 yards last week, all by four different backs, none of which had more than six carries. Preston Brown was the team leader with three carries for 28 yards.

Junior Ethan Travis had a huge night with five catches for 157 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown grab, while Hunter Patterson also had a scoring catch. Travis has more than 750 yards worth of passes on the season.

“We are a very young team only returning two guys on each side of the ball this season,” Arneault said. “And we have started as many as six freshmen at a time on both sides of the ball.”

Defensively, the Golden Bears allow 518 total yards of offense per game, 363 of that coming on the ground.

“Oak Glen has played a pretty tough schedule also,” Young said. “Similar to what we have played in some ways. They have a quarterback that can throw the ball very well, a very nice receiver, and coach Arneault has done a nice job with the team. And, of course, we are playing up again, but it’s all about scoring points and playing defense. We are in control of our destiny.”