It’s beginning to look a lot like 1998.
For the second week in a row, the Pendleton County Wildcats pulled off an upset in the State Football Playoffs, upending Tolsia 46-16.
The 4.5 hour trip to Fort Gay (which has an unfortunate claim to fame) didn’t lag the Wildcats at all. They took a 12-0 lead by halftime and never looked back, outflanking the slower Tolsia run game.
This is only the second time in Pendleton County High School history that the Wildcats have made it to the football semifinals – the first being the team’s inaugural season in the fall of 1998.
In fact, the 1998 comparisons ring eerie when considering that, to get to the semifinals then, the Wildcats beat Cameron and a southwestern West Virginia team (though in reverse order).
In the 1998 season, the Wildcats traveled to Poca (now a Class AA team) and scored only a field goal to beat them, 3-0. Pendleton County then moved on to Cameron, where some 4th quarter determination pulled out a 25-24 victory.
Where did Pendleton County go from there? To a familiar regular season rival in neighboring Hardy County. Not only that, but a team that was the favorite to win the championship.
Back then it was Moorefield, and they, in fact, won the championship that year, blowing out the Wildcats 39-6 to move on to the title game.
This time around it is East Hardy that is the favorite. The Cougars have remained undefeated all year, most recently defeating Williamstown 20-14 to move on to the semifinal game against Pendleton County.
Will history repeat itself? Pendleton County has a lot going for it. It’s the only team to defeat East Hardy in regular season play the last two years. Also, the Wildcats are red hot right now, being the only team in all of Class A to pull off upsets in the playoffs so far this year. That’s nothing for the Cougars to purr at when going into next week’s game.
It will at least be a shorter drive to Baker than to Fort Gay.
Also worth mentioning that the M&W playoff streak has ended, with Williamstown losing to East Hardy and Wheeling Central falling to Fayetteville. Though it is notable that Fayetteville was the last school to win the championship before the streak began.