MASON, W.Va. — Wheeling Central, Williamstown, Madonna.
Those had been the only three teams to win state football championships out of Class A since 2004 — until last year, when Wahama finally broke through to win its first state football title.
“That was huge,” said Wahama all-state running back Kane Roush. “Words don’t even describe it – it was the absolutely greatest accomplishment for us.”
And it was certainly a long time coming for the White Falcons. Wahama, of course, came up short in the 2010 state championship game to Wheeling Central and then followed that up with a semifinal loss to Williamstown in 2011. But the angst of coming so close, and then coming up short, went back even further than that for the White Falcons.
In 2001, 12th seeded Wahama upset Parkersburg Catholic and Van in the playoffs, before falling to Moorefield in the semifinals. An undefeated regular season in 2002 had hopes high again for the Mason County club, but an opening round loss to 14 seed South Harrison squashed that.
In 2003, the White Falcons put together another undefeated regular season campaign, only to come up short on the road again at Moorefield in the semifinals. In 2004, Wahama was the No. 2 seed, but fell in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Wheeling Central.
Similar playoff appearances followed in the years to come as Wahama almost seemed destined to be the bridesmaid, but never the bride. That is, of course, until 2012.
But now that the White Falcons finally have that ultimate prize, how will they handle the pressure of defending their title? For Roush, the answer is simple.
“Our main goal and mindset is to get back to Wheeling Island and win another state championship,” he said. “That’s been our goal since the offseason and we’ve all been working hard to get back at that level. I think we proved a lot last year going on the road and beating Magnolia (in the semifinals), then knocking off Madonna. Now we want to get back there again.”
Roush, meanwhile, is the anchor of the White Falcons’ rushing attack — he was named the MVP of that state championship game against Madonna (a 43-42 overtime win for the White Falcons), as he ran for 170 yards and scored three touchdowns on 23 carries.
After the game, Roush was the first to credit his offensive line for the job that they did upfront — the good news for him is that the entire line returns for this season.
“We have every single one of them back. And honestly, I think their conditioning goes a long way,” Roush said of the guys upfront. “They’re always running with all of us in practice and they stay in good shape – and that’s one of our strengths overall as a team is our conditioning.”
Offensively, Wahama loses fullback Zach Wamsley and veteran quarterback Trenton Gibbs. However, it’s former Roane County quarterback Hunter Bradley (Class AA first team all-state in 2012) who will step in for Gibbs after moving to the Wahama area in the winter.
“He actually reminds me a lot of how Trenton’s game was,” Roush said. “He maybe is more of a better passer overall, but a lot of his attributes are the same and the way he manages the offense is similar as well.”
Roush, though, undoubtedly will have a big impact on just how far the White Falcons go in 2013. The now-senior finished 2012 with around 1,800 yards, averaging over 12 yards per carry.
“My downfield vision is probably my biggest strength,” Roush said. “We have a lot of drills that we go through in practice that helps me work on that too.”
And speed right out of the gate certainly doesn’t hurt his cause either.
But while those numbers and stats are great, the goal for Roush this year is to get the White Falcons back to Wheeling.
“I know there are some people that have said we got lucky last year, but we want to get back there to prove them wrong, prove that it wasn’t just a one year run,” Roush said. “The whole Class A field should be really good again – Madonna I know returns a ton and Wheeling Central gets (Parker Henry) back at quarterback. Magnolia and Greenbrier West gave us battles in the playoffs last year as well.”
Wahama enters this season with 31 straight regular season wins going back to 2009.
2013 Football Schedule
|2||09/06/13 07:30PM||H||TRIMBLE,OH H.S.||–|
|3||09/13/13 07:30PM||A||EASTERN, OH H.S.||–|
|4||09/20/13 07:30PM||A||BELPRE,OH H.S.||–|
|5||09/27/13 07:30PM||H||WATERFORD, OH H.S.||–|
|6||10/04/13 07:30PM||A||RACINE SOUTHERN, OH H.S.||–|
|7||10/11/13 07:30PM||H||FEDERAL HOCKING,OH H.S.||–|
|8||10/18/13 07:30PM||A||SOUTH GALLIA, OH H.S.||–|
|10||11/01/13 07:30PM||H||CORNING MILLER, OH H.S.||–|