HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Last year was one of the best football seasons in the brief 15 year existence of Spring Valley High School. The Timberwolves broke through and won their first ever playoff game, defeating Wheeling Park 31-7.
However, gone from that team is running back/linebacker Elijah Wellman who was named captain of the first team all-state defense and is now in Morgantown with WVU.
“Elijah is a great leader,” said head coach Brad Dingess. “You can’t really put into words what he meant to our program, from the time he was a freshman, until the time he graduated — his work ethic was fantastic and he was a great role model. Until he left for WVU, he was still coming in the weight room with us all the time. He definitely led by example.”
Fortunately for Dingess and Spring Valley, they have three linebackers returning — Dylan Lagaman, Colby Webb and Chase Lucas — that played alongside Wellman and understand the defensive schemes.
Along with a strong defensive core returning, the Timberwolves bring back four of their five offensive lineman, including first team all-state tackle Trevor Stacy, who checks out at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds.
“It’s one of the deepest squads I’ve had in my six years here,” Dingess said. “We’re probably thin at tackle in terms of depth, but every other spot we’re pretty deep. If we can stay healthy, hopefully we’ll win ball games late and wear some people down. It’s a real physical group.”
The focus for Spring Valley will be to come out of the gate strong this season as they limped to a 0-2 start last year, albeit losses to Cabell Midland and Huntington.
“It felt like our backs were against the wall and we were fighting for a playoff spot the entire year,” Dingess said. “It kind of wears on you as the season goes along. Not that you ever want to lose a game or every week is not important, but when we put ourselves two games in the hole, it causes a little bit of stress.”
This fall, the Timberwolves won’t have to play Cabell Midland until week nine in what has become a rivalry game.
“We went through a stretch in the school’s history where we lost seven or eight years and had not beat them,” Dingess said. “Then, we put together three years in a row where we beat them. Then, we lost to them twice last year. That’s what a rivalry game is about. We don’t play them until week nine. When we go to play, that’s when we will worry about them.”
The emergence of Spring Valley and Cabell Midland, as well as Huntington, has created a football renaissance for that area of the state in Class AAA, which makes the level of competition even tougher for Dingess’s club.
“We have had some coaching changes with myself, Coach (Billy) Seals at Huntington and Coach (Luke) Salmons at Cabell Midland coming along,” he said. “There’s some young coaching blood here and it rejuvenated things.”
For Spring Valley, the focus now shifts to become a consistent contender in Class AAA.
“We preached to the kids going into the offseason last year that it was going to be the year we won a playoff game,” he said. “The whole attitude has now changed. We have a good bit more of confidence. They just really believe in the program and that they can make it further.”
2013 Football Schedule
|1||08/30/13 07:30PM||A||ST. ALBANS||–|
|3||09/13/13 07:30PM||H||SOUTH CHARLESTON||–|
|9||10/25/13 07:30PM||H||CABELL MIDLAND||–|
– Wes McKinney