WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — Our school, our team, our boys.
That is how you hear someone from Williamstown talk about the high school football team. The community rallies around the entire high school and is excited for another trip to the Super Six by the football team.
The #6 Yellow Jackets (11-2) do battle with the #1 Wheeling Central Maroon Knights (12-1) Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Class A title game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“The community is fired up,” Elaine Bender, a Williamstown supporter said. “Williamstown really supports and we always have a big showing at the games. Everyone I have talked to is really fired up. You don’t get there a lot, so when you do, you have to make the most of it. We have to support our boys.”
One of the special events surrounding the Williamstown football team is a tailgate party held before every home at a local business, Haircutters. A tradition that started around 10 years ago, football alumni, fans, parents, family, and friends gather for food and Williamstown football talk.
According to Bender, some tailgaters include members of the Williamstown football teams from the 1950s and 1960s.
She said the crowd is always live and the menu has a little bit of everything.
“We either have hot dogs,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a potluck and people that come bring side dishes. Sometimes we have pulled pork and even chili if it’s a cold day.”
The tailgate party usually only happens on the day of home football games with exceptions for special occasions. The Super Six is one of those special occasions.
The Haircutters will be having a breakfast tailgate on Saturday featuring sausage gravy and biscuits, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, and more before making the trek to Wheeling.
The tailgate starts at 9 a.m. and Bender says all are welcome.
“We like to support our children,” she said. “We think that what we do with sports carries over into their academic and social life. We want to keep our kids on the right track and help them as much as we can.”
Another special occasion for Haircutters is homecoming week. Jeff Depew, President of the Williamstown High School Athletic Boosters, said a lot of high school merchandise is sold outside of the shop during their giant homecoming tailgate party.
“The school is kind of the heart of the city,” he said. “Just not the football program, it’s the high school itself. The community backs the school wholeheartedly. Any of the fundraising events we have done for big items, the community has gotten behind it. It is the heart and soul of the town.
“You will see a big following at the game Saturday for Williamstown High School. The town follows the sports programs, immensely. There have been cases during away games that I have looked at our stands and the home team’s stands and ours has been fuller than there’s.”
Williamstown last state championship in football came in 2014 with a 3OT thriller over St. Marys. The program has appeared in seven other Super Six games since 2003.
“The program has been solid for the last 20 years,” Depew said. “We have had some really good coaches. They’ve been to get the boys to buy into offseason conditioning and they’ve been able to get the best personnel in the best spots.”
The Yellow Jackets face a Super Six nemesis of theirs, Wheeling Central. The Maroon Knights are 4-0 against Williamstown in Super Six games since 2005.
The two schools met in Week 1 of the regular season in Williamstown with Wheeling Central coming out on top, 33-0.
“We haven’t been able to get the better of them in a championship game yet,” Depew said. “We have played them in the regular season and beat them a couple times, and have played them in the playoffs and beaten them. But we haven’t been able to get over the hump in the championship game itself.
“It’s going to be a tall task this year too because they are a good team as we are.”
Williamstown has embraced the underdog role in the playoffs with road wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal of the playoffs. The Yellow Jackets beat #3 Mount View 23-12 before beating #2 Midland Trail last week, 56-8.
MetroNews will carry all of the Super Six games on the MetroNews Radio Network and on the MetroNews Channel on this site.