This past Saturday night as I was sitting in our very cold broadcast booth, watching the conclusion of the Class A title game, I started to reflect on the season that was quickly coming to a close.
2017 offered at least something for every high school football fan to grab hold of and hang on to until the fall of 2018 rolls around! Of course we have to start with the wonderful Super Six weekend that finished up this past Saturday night in Wheeling! The games began on Friday night with the Class AA championship and it was without question one of the most exciting games ever played on the Island in Wheeling! Two outstanding teams in #2 seed Bluefield and #4 seed Fairmont Senior gave the thousands of fans in attendance something to cheer and be on their feet about for most of the night. The Beavers erased a five point lead by Fairmont Senior at halftime (26-21) by scoring the only points of the second half with 5:54 remaining in the game as QB Chandler Cooper scored from 1 yard out. With the score 27-26 Bluefield, Head Coach Freddy Simon decided to go for the 2-point conversion and was successful when super star running back Mookie Collier scored to make the final 29-26. The touchdown capped a 16 play, 80 yard drive that took 6:54 off the 4th quarter clock. For the game, Bluefield was led by Mookie Collier and Truck Edwards who combined for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns on 44 carries. It was the 11th State Football Champions for Bluefield and their first since 2009! For Fairmont Senior, they were led by the running of Bryson Gilbert (14 carries, 62 yards and two touchdowns) and the receiving of Antonio Parsons (6 catches for 106 yards). Quarterback Connor Neal had a great game completing 20 of 27 passes for 302 yards and two scores! After a cold start to Saturday, the sun filled the blue skies overhead Wheeling Island Stadium on Saturday afternoon and even though the score might suggest a blowout win for Martinsburg, I would suggest the game was anything but a blowout! Even though the superlative Bulldogs flexed their football muscles in the second half and outscored Spring Valley 30-0 after trailing 16-14 at the half to fix the final score at Martinsburg 44 Spring Valley 16! For Spring Valley, hard running Owen Porter led the way with 160 yards on just 17 carries and one touchdown. Just like the regular season, the Bulldogs were led by senior quarterback Tyson Bagent and hard running tailback Dwayne Grantham. Bagent was 14 of 21 for 232 yards and two scores. Grantham carried the ball 8 times for 90 yards and two more touchdowns. The defensive side of the ball for Martinsburg once again proved strong as they held Spring Valley to ten yards of total offense in the second half. The final game of Super Six Weekend was the Class A title game and it was obvious from the opening kick Wheeling Central Catholic was not a typical #10 seed! To start the game, the Blue Devils of St. Marys received the ball and after a stellar kickoff return, on the first play from scrimmage, Blue Devils quarterback Eric Illar handed the ball to Jaiden Smith who broke through the line and ran untouched 41 yards for the first score of the game. After the point after, St. Marys found themselves up 7-0 and we were only :22 seconds into the game. That, however, was just the start to an explosive first two quarters of action by two very good football teams. Wheeling Central would score the next three touchdowns and be up 21-7 with 7:41 still left in the 1st half! Not to be outdone, the Blue Devils would answer with two quick strikes of their own, a 2 play, 62 yard :49 second drive and a 2 play, 42 yard, :44 second drive, and at the half the game would be tied at 21-21! In the 2nd half, Wheeling Central would score 19 unanswered points to place the final score at 40-21. The win gave the Maroon Knights their 10th overall state football title.
The three games this past weekend in Wheeling were the perfect ending to what has been a wonderful, fast paced football season. We had the pleasure of seeing some of the finest football games, played by some of the greatest players and coached by some of the best coaches and it only reminds us of how great everything seems to be when placed “under those Friday night lights”! I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until next season. And with that thought in mind, I gladly remind you High School GAMENIGHT will return for season #17 on August 24th, 2018….just a short 264 days away from today (Monday, December 4, 2017)….Talk with you then!!