MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s Class A state championship game between defending champion Wheeling Central Catholic and Williamstown.
The game will be broadcast on the MetroNews Channel at wvmetronews.com. It will also air on a tape-delayed basis on AT&T Sportsnet.
If you look only at the final score from their meeting in August, one would think Saturday’s Class A championship game between Wheeling Central Catholic and Williamstown will be a lopsided contest. In the season’s opening week, the Maroon Knights rolled to a 33-0 victory. But since that game, the Yellow Jackets have gone 11-1. Their only loss in that stretch was a 7-point defeat at state semifinalist Doddridge County. Make no mistake — Williamstown is a significantly better team now than they were in week one.
“They are definitely much more aggressive and quicker,” said Wheeling Central Catholic head coach Mike Young. “They are much more fundamentally sound. Coach (Terry) Smith does a great job of preparing his kids week in and week out to get better. They are definitely a familiar opponent of ours. We met a number of times in the championship game. The last couple years we have met on each others home field. It is definitely going to be competitive.”
“I’m not sure how much they are real excited about getting a second shot at Wheeling Central but they are excited about going, they are excited about winning,” said Williamstown head coach Terry Smith. “We did a good job Friday night (vs. Midland Trail). Certainly nothing is perfect but it was good after the game to see the kids, to know that they won and they feel good about themselves and know they are getting a chance to play for a state championship.”
Just eight days after dropping their season opener, Williamstown rallied in the best way possible, defeating eventual state quarterfinalist Magnolia, 20-8.
Williamstown’s path to a state championship included a pair of long road trips to Southern West Virginia. The Yellow Jackets defeated Mount View and Midland Trail to earn their first spot in the Super Six since winning the title in 2014. Coming into the season, veteran head coach Terry Smith wasn’t certain what type of squad he would be putting on the field.
“We had thirty guys and two kickers,” Smith said. “So it is not like we were putting it together. Whoever showed up was probably going to play. We didn’t think we could get this far but you have to hand it to the seniors. They led the way and helped us work through things.”
The Williamstown offense features senior quarterback Carter Haynes and junior running back Donathan Taylor. Haynes has tossed nineteen touchdown passes against just five interceptions. Taylor has rushed for eighteen scores and 1,399 yards. “You can throw it to somebody besides the main guy we are trying to throw it to,” Smith said. “You can go to the line of scrimmage and say, ‘everybody’s over here so let’s change this play.’ It is hard to do with high school kids. He (Haynes) has enough experience and knowledge of our offense to know what to do.”
As defending champion and presumptive favorite entering the year, Wheeling Central Catholic has been as good as advertised. But coming into the season, veteran head coach Mike Young knew his team would be tested by a schedule that produced six opponents who qualified for postseason play. “We feel it is great to have this opportunity for what we have been through this year,” Young said. “We have had a great season and a very challenging schedule. Injuries along the way, and our numbers are down so it was an uphill battle throughout the season.”
The Maroon Knights allowed less than eleven points a game in the regular season. And they are coming off perhaps their best effort of the season. Central became the first team in thirteen games to hold Doddridge County’s Hunter America under a hundred yards. They did so in a 47-7 semifinal win.
“I think we sent (a message) across that state that we are a pretty aggressive defense,” Young said. “To stop Hunter America, who is almost a three-thousand yard rusher to under a hundred yards, it said a lot. We’ve been doing that all year.”
Central’s offense is perfectly balanced. The Maroon Knights have rushed for 2,421 yards and passed for 2,528 yards. Quarterback Curtis McGhee runs the show as the team’s leading passer and rusher. The junior has combined for 2,853 yards of offense and 41 touchdowns.
“It is the most talented group I have had in my fourteen years as head coach,” Young said. “We can throw the ball and we can run the ball. We have guys than can get open and a lot of speed. We can definitely go if they take away one thing we can go to something else. Without a doubt it is a fun group to work with too.”