By Luke Wiggs, Panhandle News Network Sports


Martinsburg, W.Va– With half the 2022 campaign in the books, a clearer playoff picture is starting to develop around the state, and the panhandle.


A question posed in the preseason is starting to become a reality as the EPAC is trending toward solidifying four bids for the postseason.


Let’s take a gander at each panhandle participant and how the rest of their season stacks up.


Martinsburg: 5-1

Games remaining against: Riverside (Ohio), Spring Mills, Jefferson, Bishop Ireton (Virginia)


It’s been a season of dominance per usual for the reigning AAA state champs, but it does come with a blemish


A 34-3 loss to Highland Springs was the Bulldog’s first out-of-state loss since 2015 and was nearly the first time they were shut out since 2005.


However, despite a bump in the road to a team currently ranked 74th in the nation by Maxpreps, it’s been the usual winning ways for the black and orange.


The Bulldogs are averaging 56.8 points per game in their victories, and boast not one, but two, elite quarterbacks in Ezra Bagent and Murphy Clement.


While they took a solid bunch from fellow EPAC rival Musselman, expect Martinsburg to continue to be class AAA favorites as they seek their 6th ship in 7 seasons.



Musselman: 4-1

Remaining games: Hedgesville, Wheeling Park, Washington, Bridgeport, Parkersburg


What a season it’s been for the Applemen, highlighted by upsetting then #2 Morgantown at home.


After winning just 3 games a season ago, the Brian Thomas led squad has won 4 of their first 5 games in dramatic fashion.


Their week 3 21-20 victory over Jefferson was decided on the final play of the game, similarly to their 2 one-possession victories over Sherando and Morgantown.


While still facing one of the tougher schedules in the state, the Applemen are among the most battle-tested ball clubs and boast one of the top QB-WR pairings in Bayden Hartman and Ray Adames.


Jefferson: 4-2

Remaining games: James Woods (Virginia), Martinsburg, Hedgesville, Washington


The Cougars stumbled ever so slightly out of the gates this season, narrowly beating Millbrook and then dropping 2 games in a row to Sherando and Musselman.


With doubt starting to creep in, Craig Hunter’s team has responded with 3 impressive victories outsourcing opponents by a combined 123-12.


Dylan Harich seems to have been cemented as the team’s top QB, tossing 4 touchdowns in their week 6 victory over North Hagerstown, and the COugar Defense is allowing just over 2 touchdowns per game.


Hedgesville: 4-2

Remaining Games: Musselman, FCA (D.C.), Jefferson, Hampshire


The Eagles firmly cemented themselves in the class AAA playoff picture, with a dramatic win over Spring Mills.


Hedgesville has scored 29 fewer points than they’ve allowed, but are still poised to play playoff football this year for the first time in the Matt Faircloth era.


What becomes interesting for the Eagles, is where they could finish. Every game remaining on the schedule is a more than winnable, yet very competitive game. Running the table means they would comfortably host a playoff game, 3-1 may as well.


Keep an Eagle eye on Hedgesville as the final weeks tick down, they may be able to put the state on the notice.


Spring Mills: 2-3

Remaining Games: Frankfort (AA), Martinsburg, North Hagerstown, Albert Gallatin (PA), University


While it’s been a somewhat frustrating season for Cardinal fans, this is a young ballclub whose best is yet to come.


However, in the immediate future, the Redbirds are still just on the outside looking in at the postseason.


While the numbers don’t always show it, I truly believe they possess one of the top defenses in the state, highlighted by senior edge rusher Gavin Jones.


The Cardinals also control their own destiny still as they look to make it back to the big dance.


My prediction? Spring Mills rolls into week 11 at home against University with a spot in the playoffs on the line, setting up a tasty matchup.


Washington: 1-5

Remaining schedule: Preston, Musselman, Hampshire, Jefferson


The Patriots are truly just 2-3 favorable bounces away from being a 3-2 team. Injuries and bad luck have plagued Glen Simpson’s ballclub but have not rattled their resolve.


Scoring 74 points against Park View has reignited something in this team and while they may not make the postseason, you’ll notice with 2 remaining EPAC teams on the schedule, they will certainly look to play spoiler.


The Patriots figure to return their 2 top rushers in Rodrigo Delgado and Camden Pritt next season. And their second-leading tackler Camren Togans who started this season as a true freshman.