WEST UNION, W.Va. — The last time Bobby Burnside walked the Doddridge County sideline, the Bulldogs’ magical 2018 season came to an end with a 47-7 setback at Wheeling Central in a Class A semifinal.

Flash forward seven months, and despite a 40-point defeat at the hands of the two-time defending state champion Maroon Knights, the buzz has perhaps never been greater six weeks in advance of a season opener at DCHS.

In addition to coming off a school record 12-win season and a second-ever appearance in a state semifinal, Doddridge County is set to showcase its new $12.8 million athletic facility.

The Bulldogs have a new football field, eight-lane track, baseball field and student activity center, while the softball field now sports turf.

A two-level 16,000 square foot building beside the football field has locker rooms for the home and visiting teams, public restrooms and a concession stand. The Doddridge County Board of Education offices are on the second level.

“It’s just beautiful,” Burnside said. “Our players, fans and community are really excited and will be very thankful for years to come. I can’t imagine what the atmosphere will be at home games and it’s also very scenic. It’s hard to imagine this is happening in Doddridge County and we’re real happy for the youth in the future.”

Ninety percent of the money was generated through the school excess levy through oil and gas. Doddridge County has one of the longest running school levies in West Virginia, helping the school get an on campus field that will remain as Cline Stansberry Stadium, but not force coaches and players to make a nearly two-mile drive to practice and play.

“For the longest time, we could truly relate to the small and rural schools across West Virginia,” Burnside said. “We’re in an extremely large oil and gas boom in our county and we’re going to have fabulous facilities.

“The videboard is really cool. I’ve heard it’s the third largest in the state, so that’s exciting. The locker rooms are nice. All you can be is extremely appreciative. It’ll be a big change.”

This year’s team has plenty of notable returning players, including first-team all-state selections Hunter America, Cole James and Griffin Devericks. Second-team all-state pick Austin Kelley is also back.

In 2018, America was the recipient of the Curt Warner Award, an honor bestowed upon the state’s top running back. All America did was lead the state in rushing yards (2,829) and touchdowns (40) as a junior.

“Hunter kind of exploded on the scene the first couple of weeks last season,” Burnside said. “It’s brought a lot of publicity — probably more than we’re used to on the state level as a school. We have to not let that distract us, but it’s exciting for him and the team. We’re excited to see what kind of season he can put up after his junior year. Those are crazy numbers.”

James earned all-state honors as an offensive lineman, while Devericks was chosen as a defensive back. Kelley was a second-team linebacker and honorable mention picks D.J. Devinney (K/P) and Connor Cunningham (TE/DE) are also back.

“We’ve got a good group. We definitely lost some really good players from last year’s team and that’s high school football,” Burnside said. “Our theme for this year is work. It’s not anything complicated. We’re working hard right now and we’ll work hard to be better the second week of August than the first and in the second week of the season than the first. The players back from last year’s team realize how much their hard work paid off.”