WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Central heads into the upcoming football season looking to take back control of the small schools’ division in the state. And the Maroon Knights will certainly have the cavalry to do so as senior quarterback Parker Henry returns after sitting out 2012 with a torn ACL.

“It’s definitely positive to have him back,” said head coach Mike Young. “He’s a solid player, a solid leader and a solid kid. He’s been on a mission to get back and has been outstanding.”

As a sophomore, Henry led Wheeling Central to another state championship in 2011 — their eighth in 12 years — by rolling up nearly 2,000 yards of total offense on the year. His absence just before the start of last year, moved C.J. Burch into the quarterback role.

Now, Burch is able to move back to running back, creating a powerful set of offensive weapons.

“C.J. stepped in nicely at quarterback last year, but having both of them on the field will only add to our offense and encourage our kids on defense,” Young said. “With both of them being able to throw the ball, that makes us three-dimensional.”

Last year, though, it was the defensive side of the ball that struggled to slow down East Hardy in the opening round of the playoffs – the Maroon Knights fell, 60-34. It was the first time Wheeling Central didn’t make at least the quarterfinal round since 1998, when it missed the playoffs entirely. The last time Central actually lost in the first round was 1996.

“That left a terrible taste in our mouths that we don’t want there again,” Young said. “Things happen sometimes, you can’t go back and change the past. We took that game the way anyone takes a loss. Winning is a habit, but so is losing – we’re not about to make that a habit for us.”

And it certainly was a rarity for the rest of Class A to have Wheeling Central watching from the outside in the quarterfinal round. If nothing else, it gave the small schools division a greater sense of parity as Wahama, Magnolia, Tucker County and Madonna combined to produce three tremendous games overall in the semifinals and championship.

Sam Santilli Photography

Wheeling Central won eight state championships over 12 years prior to 2012.

“It’s going to be very competitive again, I think,” Young said. “Those schools showed what they can do – East Hardy proved it against us and they’ve done so for the last couple of years. I look at Class as being very competitive – there used to be some dominance there, but I think there’s more dominance now in AAA with Martinsburg and AA with Wayne.

“Wahama came through last year in Class A, they had a great year,” Young said. “They have good coaches and good people. Madonna will be in the hunt again this year as well. You have to give them credit – they look good too.”

Along with several difficult out of state matchups, Central will face Madonna, Magnolia, Bishop Donahue and Class AAA Spring Mills.

“Our schedule has always been challenging,” Young said. “We feel that if we play good enough and get to the postseason, we can make some noise. Our goal is always to play the first week of December at Wheeling Island Stadium.”

2013 Football Schedule

08/29/13 07:00PM  H  HARRISON CENTRAL, OH H.S.  
09/06/13 07:00PM  H  WESTINGHOUSE, PA H.S.  
09/14/13 07:00PM  A  MADONNA  
09/21/13 07:00PM  H  LINSLY, WV. H.S.  
09/28/13 07:00PM  H  MAGNOLIA  
10/04/13 07:00PM  H  KISKI, PA H.S.  
10/11/13 07:00PM  H  SHADYSIDE,OH H.S.  
10/26/13 01:00PM  H  ST. JOE ACADEMY, PA HS  
11/01/13 07:00PM  H  BISHOP DONAHUE  
10  11/09/13 01:00PM  A  SPRING MILLS  
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  • Davy

    How did the proponents of keeping it a 3-classification-only sports system in WV manage to garner eight home games?