POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Looks can be deceiving.
On paper, the traditional 3-14 matchup should easily favor the higher seeded program … especially if the higher seed is playing at home.
This 3-14 contest, however, is a little different because of both COVID cancellations this fall and recent history.
Third-seeded Point Pleasant faces a very stern test on Saturday afternoon when 14th-seeded Bluefield comes to Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field for a Class AA opening round playoff football contest.
The host Big Blacks (9-1) have won nine straight decisions after suffering a 32-22 setback to visiting Greenbrier East in the regular season opener, a sign of major growth from a team that started the year with numerous questions because of its youth and inexperience.
PPHS — which has outscored opponents by a 349-170 overall margin this year, averages of 34.9 points for and 17.0 points allowed — has had its hard work rewarded with this home-opener in the playoffs, a first for the program since 2018.
The 2018 campaign was also the last time that the Big Blacks — who are 11-17 alltime in postseason play — had a playoff victory.
The Beavers (5-3), on the other hand, had to overcome having only one game in the first six weeks of the regular season, then played three games in the span of seven days — including a pair of contests against schools from Virginia.
BHS also had four games scheduled in the final three weeks of the regular season, though one of those resulted in a 1-0 forfeit loss to Woodrow Wilson.
Princeton Senior is the only other West Virginia school to defeat Bluefield this fall, doing so by a 39-36 margin in Week 2.
The Beavers — who have played in at least the state semifinal round every year since winning the Class AA crown back in 2017 — managed to find some luck late in the year to get back into the postseason.
Bluefield is also taking on an opponent that it has had quite a bit of success with of late.
After dropping their initial meeting by a 45-24 count back in 2016, the Beavers have reeled off four straight wins over PPHS — including a 46-28 decision in the last meeting back in 2020.
BHS also owns a 49-17 victory in the only playoff meeting between the two schools back in 2017. All five of the previous meetings have been decided by at least 18 points.
The Beavers — who have outscored opponents 282-130 in the seven games played, averages of 40.3 points for and 18.6 points allowed — have a single common opponent with Point Pleasant this year in Mingo Central.
The Big Blacks defeated the Miners by a 66-28 margin back on Sept. 10 at OVB Field, while Bluefield earned a 55-6 decision over MCHS just last weekend in its home finale.
The Beavers — who are 3-1 in road contests — also have wins over West Virginia programs PikeView (66-0) and Oak Hill (41-21) this fall.
The 3-seed is the highest for a Point Pleasant football team heading into a postseason since the 2016 program made its return to the Class AA level as a 3-seed. The Big Blacks are also making their 18th playoff appearance in program history, including their 13th appearance in the last 14 postseasons.
Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon at OVB Field.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.