Fairmont Senior hosts road-warrior Philip Barbour for quarterfinal matchup

Nov. 16—FAIRMONT — Thunderdome continues for the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears.

After a hard-fought 31-27 over No. 15 Wayne, No. 2 Fairmont Senior hosts No. 10 Philip Barbour for a AA playoff matchup Friday at East-West Stadium.

Wayne gave Fairmont Senior a run for its money in the first round. Wayne led 14-10 at halftime and kept within a score of Fairmont Senior when it lost the lead. The Polar Bears clinched the win when Cannon Dinger intercepted a pass in the red zone late in the fourth quarter.

"We knew they were a great team," Fairmont Senior running back Dylan Ours said. "They were seeded 15th; that said nothing about them. They were easily a Top 4 team in AA. They should not have been seeded 15th."

A tough challenge in the first round serves as a wake up call for Fairmont Senior if it wasn't already awakened. Now that it passed its first test of the postseason, Fairmont Senior thinks it can perform better in the next round.

"You beat a team like Wayne, that's tough physical and sound, we knew that was going to be a battle," Head Coach Nick Bartic said. "You feel like getting that win under your belt helps with our preparation and focus for this round."

Awaiting the Polar Bears is a rag of Colts that upset No. 3 Roane County 28-21 while on the road for the school's first ever postseason victory. There's no doubt Philip Barbour eyes to be the road warriors of this year's playoffs.

"They proved themselves by taking a long trip to a tough environment to play and were able to take care of business," Bartic said. "On top of that, they made school history by winning the first playoff game, so we expect them to have a big crowd. They have a lot of excitement, and we need our crowd to match that this week."

Bartic also mentioned Philip Barbour's high scoring offense. On its way to an 8-2 record, Philip Barbour never scored fewer than 35 points a game in the regular season. It scored 42 or more points in seven of its wins and 36 and 38 points in its two losses, which came from No. 8 East Fairmont and No. 11 Lewis County, respectively.

Including the playoff win, Philip Barbour's offense averages 44 points a game. On the other side of the ball, the Colts' defense averages 23.2 points allowed per game. Fairmont Senior, meanwhile, averages 40.1 points scored on offense and 20.3 points allowed on defense.

"We know there's a lot of preparation to be had with handling their system and the way they run their offense," Bartic said. "They're well coached and have skill guys that are really good at what they do. So our guys want to be disciplined with lots of preparation."

Another point of emphasis in dealing with Philip Barbour's offense is the pre-snap motion it likes to use. Bartic said Philip Barbour does a good job with shifts and motion and knows the rules to have proper alignment.

For Fairmont Senior, the home-field advantage will be important. Bartic wants the Fairmont Senior community to show up big in this quarterfinal match.

"We always talk about 12th Street Mystique here," Bartic said. "We like to think that other teams have to beat our team, our tradition and the environment, and the crowd plays a big role in that. So we're hoping for a big turnout here in the quarterfinals of the Class AA playoffs presented by Toyota."

Fairmont Senior kicks off the quarterfinal with Philip Barbour on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at East-West Stadium.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548