BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — As the Bluefield High School Beavers prepare for their rematch with the Fairmont High School Polar Bears in the WVSSAC AA State Championship, the team will try to continue riding the momentum they established following a devastating mid-season loss, a turning point for both players and coaches.
Bluefield High School administrator Justin Gilbert said the Oct. 12 loss to Lord Botetourt High School was especially stunning for a team — and a community — that had become somewhat accustomed to winning games in convincing fashion, during a streak of 20 consecutive victories spanning more than two years.
“That was a reality check that just because we’re Bluefield, people weren’t just going to sit there and let us have this. From that point on, there was a different focus for the remainder of the season, and the players realized that. They put in the work and, from that point on, we finished the season 12-1,” Gilbert said.
The loss to Lord Botetourt also reverberated in a community that has been through a shared experience of economic hardship over the past several years. According to Gilbert, this has developed an affinity for a high school sports program that has provided a genuine sense of pride for many local residents.
“You would’ve thought the world was coming to an end for a lot of people,” he said with a slight chuckle.
“You’ve got to remember, some of our kids — especially some of our freshman and sophomores — have never even experienced a loss in high school. The coaching staff did a great job. We went back to fundamentals, got the kids refocused. And they responded.”
Friday’s game at Wheeling Island Stadium will mark the 17th time Bluefield has appeared in a championship contest, winning 11 of their previous title match-ups (including AAA and AA). A 12th title will move the Beavers into sole possession of third place behind Parkersburg High School — the winners of 17 state titles — and Wheeling Central, which has 15 championship trophies. Bluefield has never won consecutive championships in football.
No. 1 Fairmont Senior (13-0) and No. 2 Bluefield (12-1) are scheduled to kick off at 7:05. MetroNews will carry all of the Super Six games on the MetroNews Radio Network and on the MetroNews Channel on this site. Pregame coverage of Bluefield and Fairmont Senior begins at 6:45.