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Herbert Hoover coach Joey Fields (center) runs onto the field with his players before the start of Friday’s game against Logan.

CHARLESTON — For a team that had the rug pulled out from under its celebration Friday night, Herbert Hoover coach Joey Fields tried to remain philosophical.

His Huskies, fresh off a 10-0 regular season and the No. 1 spot in the Class AA playoff ratings, drew the opponent no one really wanted to face in the first round — Fairmont Senior. Yes, that Fairmont Senior that's known nothing but postseason success the past few years.

"We're excited about the opportunity to be onstage with one of the top programs in double-A the last five years," Fields said Saturday. "We're excited to have that opportunity and see where we match up with this year's team."

It was one of the most notable talking points when the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission released its official final ratings and first-round playoff pairings Saturday evening. Five Kanawha Valley teams qualified for this year's playoffs, down from the seven that made the grade in both 2019 and 2020.

The other Kanawha Valley teams in postseason play include George Washington, Hurricane and South Charleston (Class AAA) and Poca (AA).

The game assignments, with playing site and kickoff time, will be determined during a Sunday meeting at the SSAC office in Parkersburg. The higher-seeded team gets to select the approved home field, while the lower seed chooses the date and start time. Teams can pick either 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday or 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Hoover had plenty to celebrate Friday after downing Logan 48-6, polishing off its first 10-0 regular season since 1977 and capturing the Cardinal Conference championship. However, getting matched up with Fairmont Senior, the unlikely No. 16 seed, splashed some cold water on that otherwise joyful moment.

The Polar Bears, who tackled a difficult schedule peppered with AAA powers, barely made it into the 16-team field with a 5-4 record. They lost to Bridgeport and University (both 10-0) and Spring Valley (8-2), all of which earned home-field games in Class AAA. In addition, Fairmont played North Marion (7-2), whose only on-field loss came to the Polar Bears (the other was by forfeit), along with Robert C. Byrd (6-3).

Fairmont's pedigree is known far and wide across West Virginia. Over the previous six years, the Polar Bears went 68-11, won a pair of AA state titles and reached either the championship game or the semifinals all six times. The oddity of having to face that sort of program as the No. 1 seed wasn't lost on Fields.

"Usually in the past," Fields said, "if you go 10-0 and take care of business in the regular season, you realistically fall on the Thanksgiving semifinals. This year, with all the no-contests, forfeits and with COVID the past two years, it's a different situation."

Another peculiar item: The last time Hoover went 10-0 in 1977, it also drew Fairmont Senior in the first round and lost 20-14 at East-West Stadium in Fairmont.

"So there's a little bit of history there," Fields said. "But I think when the game starts, you realize it's our team against their team."

The other No. 1 playoff seeds went to Huntington (10-0) in Class AAA and Cameron (9-0) in Class A. For the Highlanders, it's their third 10-0 regular season since 2013. Huntington squares off with No. 16 Wheeling Park (4-4) in the first round, and the Dragons face No. 16 Gilmer County (6-4).

Here's the way it shook out for the other Kanawha Valley teams making the postseason:

  • George Washington (7-3): The Patriots finished ninth in AAA and visit No. 8 Greenbrier East (8-2). GW leads the all-time series 7-1, with most of the games being played when the Spartans were a member of the Mountain State Athletic Conference. The last time they hooked up was 2010. East is 3-1 against playoff teams this season, beating Princeton and Woodrow Wilson (AAA) and Point Pleasant (AA), and losing to Robert C. Byrd (AA).
  • Hurricane (6-4): The Redskins drew the No. 11 seed in AAA and face a long trip to the Eastern Panhandle to play Jefferson (9-1), which has lost only to Martinsburg. Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor said in a post on Twitter that he will choose to play the game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. These teams have met just once before, and it was last year when the Skins closed their season with a 22-17 win against the Cougars in Shenandoah Junction.
  • South Charleston (5-5): The Black Eagles ended the regular season with four straight losses, putting them at 12th in the ratings and sending them to Ona to face No. 5 Cabell Midland (9-1), which has won seven straight since losing to Huntington. These MSAC teams didn't meet this season or last season, but had a spirited scrimmage in August. The Knights have won seven in a row in the series, with just two games decided by less than 15 points.
  • Poca (7-2): The Dots dropped from third to fifth following an unexpected 26-20 loss to Wayne in their regular-season finale on Friday, giving them a first-round home matchup against No. 12 Liberty Raleigh (7-3) at O.O. White Stadium in Putnam County. These two programs split a pair of games in 1991-92 in their only other meetings. Liberty fell to Hoover in last year's first round 34-33, making the Raiders 0-10 all-time in first-round games.

Rick Ryan covers prep sports for HD Media. He can be reached at 304-348-5175 or Follow @RickRyanWV on Twitter.

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