WHEELING, W.Va. – Martinsburg’s dominant run atop Class AAA continued on Saturday afternoon as the Bulldogs beat Spring Valley 44-16 for another football state championship.
It was the 28th straight win for Martinsburg (14-0) and sixth title in eight seasons.
“It’s been great,” said Martinsburg coach Dave Walker. “Our kids have worked hard and I’m happy for them. All of the hard work has paid off.
“There are about nine of our seniors who started for us as sophomores and they put the work in – they’ve seen both ends of it,” he continued. “I’m really proud of them, they’re a great group of kids and I’m going to miss them.”
It was a tale of two halves Saturday as Spring Valley (11-3) led 16-14 at the break, totaling 209 offensive yards in first two quarters, including a 51-yard touchdown run from Owen Porter.
Porter, a Marshall linebacker commit, tallied 156 yards in the first half and finished with 160 rushing yards in the game, battling through an injury in that second half. Still, overall, Martinsburg limited Spring Valley defensively to just seven yards of offense in the second half.
“We felt all of Spring Valley’s electricity and energy in the first half,” said Martinsburg quarterback Tyson Bagent. “We didn’t think they would be able to do it again (in the second half). We knew we had more juice than them left in the tank. We just had to keep playing our game without stuttering.”
Bagent led Martinsburg offensively, completing 14 of 21 passes for 232 yards and totaled four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).
The senior standout, whose college-offer list includes Albany and Shepherd, ends his season as one of the frontrunners for the Kennedy Award and MetroNews Player of the Year.
Bagent on the year completed 197 of 274 passes (72 percent completion) for 3,200 yards and accounted for 49 total touchdowns (41 passing, eight rushing). He added 183 rushing yards as well.
“I think my sophomore and junior years were a learning experience and it was fun,” Bagent said. “I think this senior year I cracked the code and figured a lot of things out. I think it’s going to help excel me into the next level.”
Martinsburg running back Dewayne Grantham added two more scores as well, finishing with 90 yards on just eight carries – that included a 39-yard touchdown run.
Sophomore receiver Jarod Bowie had a couple of great plays, finishing with 87 yards and a touchdown on five catches with a long of 41.
“At the beginning of the year (Bowie) was almost playing JV. He did a great job of maturing through the year,” Bagent said. “For the step that he’s been able to make, along with all of our receivers, we had a bunch of people who got to the ball today. The line did a great job as well and we couldn’t be here without them either. ”
Spring Valley took the lead going into the break, 16-14, after a 22-yard field goal from Mitchell Hall – although the enforcement of a roughing the kicker penalty (on the field goal attempt) for the ensuing kickoff, rather than allowing Spring Valley to take the points off the board and continue the drive, loomed significant at the time.
“I’m still mad about that,” said Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess. “But hats off to Martinsburg. They’re as good as advertised. When they get you down, they put their foot on your throat and go at you.
Ultimately, Martinsburg did flex its muscle in the second half and went on for the 28-point win and that sixth title in eight seasons.
“We’re 28-0 and we’re the best Martinsburg football team in history statistically,” said Martinsburg defensive end and WVU commit Tavis Lee. “We weren’t in the right mindset early (on Saturday), but we came back out and lined up right in the second half to shut them down.”
It’s the second straight loss in the Super Six for Spring Valley, which has been on quite a run itself as a program over the last two seasons.
“I’m super proud of my kids,” Dingess said. “We had a bad loss second half of the year and were able to fight through it. We were down two offensive linemen and a tailback. We came out here and competed our tail ends off. We have some gritty kids, tough kids, I love every one of them and they’ll fight you to the end.”
Senior defensive lineman Jalen Hesen was outstanding for the Bulldogs, finishing with 19 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
“It was great – to come back my senior year and get another championship,” Hesen said. “We came out in the second half with energy and got that first three-and-out. When we got that, I knew the game was in our hands.
“This senior group is great and in my opinion, we’re the best senior class that’s ever at Martinsburg,” he continued. “Everyone has been saying that we’re the best team in Martinsburg history and I think that’s what we just proved.”