VIENNA, W.Va. — Veteran Martinsburg coach David Walker will look to lead the Bulldogs to a Class AAA state championship for the seventh time in nine seasons Saturday afternoon against Spring Valley at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Bulldogs (13-0) enter the contest on a state record 41-game win streak and just last Friday, Walker became the winningest high school football coach in state history when he picked up his 289th career victory via the Bulldogs’ 42-14 triumph over Musselman.
Walker, in his 31st season as a head coach and 22nd at Martinsburg, passed longtime Meadow Bridge coach Larry McClintic, who compiled a 288-200 record in 47 seasons with the Wildcats.
“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Walker said. “One of my stats guys keeps track of all this stuff and it’s something I never really thought about until a year or two ago. This is my 31st year, so I’ve been surrounded by a lot of great players. It’s definitely not me. It’s all of us.”
Walker spents his first nine years as a head coach at East Hardy, before moving on to Martinsburg. His Bulldog teams won state championships each year from 2010-2013 and have knocked off Spring Valley in the title game the last two seasons.
Grantham’s return aids Bulldogs in quest for another crown
When Martinsburg clashes with Spring Valley at noon Saturday, the Bulldogs will do so with their fair share of players who have been been major contributors to at least one of the last two state championships.
Senior Dewayne Grantham is one of the team’s top two-way players and will play a pivotal role on the ground and through the air offensively in addition to his duties at linebacker.
Grantham was a standout in Martinsburg’s first five games this season before missing the second half of the regular season with an injury. He’s returned to play in each of the three postseason contests and makes an already dangerous team even better on both sides of the ball.
“He’s another weapon. It adds a little toughness to us defensively,” Walker said. “He was a big loss for us defensively. Offensively, he’s a little heavier running threat. Naieem Kearney has stepped in and done a great job for us, but he doesn’t have the physical stature that Dewayne does.
“He’s a guy that’s been with us and is a three-year starter, so just to have him back is big for us and big for him.”
As for Grantham’s injury, Walker isn’t quite sure how one of his better players got hurt in the first place.
“It was a bruised nerve down his leg — a weird injury,” Walker said. “We don’t even know how it started. We were coming back from Philadelphia and it got numb. He doesn’t remember ever getting hit. He just had a numbness and it got to where his leg was numb for a while.
“Then it kind of moved down to his foot and it was one the deals where it was a waiting game. He had MRIs and all these tests done but we just had to let it run its course.”
Barrett likely to play key role against Timberwolves
If Spring Valley (13-0) is to dethrone Martinsburg, the Timberwolves will undoubtedly need to control the line of scrimmage and play ball control while establishing their dynamic rushing attack.
An offensive line as productive as any unit in the state gives Spring Valley the chance to do that, but Martinsburg has allowed more than 20 points just once this season while recording six shutouts.
A big reason for the Bulldogs’ defensive success is senior Ricky ‘R.J.’ Barrett, a linebacker who leads the team in tackles and sacks and has a prowess for blocking punts.
At 6-foot, 200 pounds, look for Barrett to be around the ball often Saturday afternoon.
“He’s just a tough nut,” Walker said. “He’s not real big. His body is put together, but he just goes full speed at everything.
“He’s one of those guys that’s kind of flew under the radar, but when you look at the stats, he’s our leading tackler and has 15 tackles here, 17 tackles there. He’s one of those guys that kind of goes unnoticed but is a really great player for us.”