Commentary: So long, Coach Biser; never goodbye

— by Mike Burke, Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

Sean Biser of Keyser. Always. Just no longer football coach of Keyser Sean Biser, which, frankly, is going to be pretty weird.

Sean Biser is the head football coach of Morgantown High School now, a development made official Wednesday afternoon when he was introduced as the Mohigans’ head coach during a press conference at the school.

It’s bittersweet, really, as Keyser High School bids farewell to a football coach who guided the Golden Tornado to 14 West Virginia Class AA state playoff appearances in the 16 years he served his alma mater. Yet even the most bummed out Golden Tornado fan understands this is a wonderful opportunity for Sean Biser and his family.

Morgantown is the second largest high school in West Virginia, located on a campus that sits in the city that is home to the state’s flagship university in West Virginia University.

In that regard, it will be somewhat of a homecoming for Biser, though he has continued to be a regular presence in Morgantown as he attends all Mountaineer football games and much more. That’s because he is a Mountaineer, having graduated from WVU and having played football for the great Don Nehlen.

Morgantown High School football, despite some so-so seasons of recent, is a school of football pedigree. From 1995-2013, the Mohigans made 19 consecutive playoff appearances, won four state championships and finished runner-up one other time, reaching the state semifinals eight times during that run.

Biser’s teams have won everywhere he’s coached, as he led Hampshire to a 30-23 mark in five seasons as well as three Class AAA playoff appearances. The Trojans have not been back to the postseason since.

At Keyser, his teams were 127-58, reaching the Class AA state quarterfinals eight times and the championship game once.

One of the head coaches Biser played for when he was a player at Keyser, Mike Calhoun, believes his former player’s coaching success might prove to be the tip of the iceberg given the possibilities that exist for him at Morgantown.

“I think he’ll have great success there,” Calhoun said on Wednesday. “He took Hampshire and turned it around and then got to Keyser and maintained the hard-nosed philosophy of disciplined football players who are grinders and who come at you.

“At Morgantown he’ll have a lot of numbers to work with. Football is a game of numbers, and you hope to get 15 to 16 players every year that are going to help you win. Sean will thrive there; I really believe that. He’ll be great there.”

Calhoun coached at Keyser from 1982-1985 before becoming the Fort Hill (Md.) head coach for 13 seasons. Biser played offensive line for Calhoun’s teams his sophomore and junior seasons, 1984 and ’85.

“He was a worker,” Calhoun said, “so it didn’t surprise me when he got into coaching. It’s in his blood. He loved playing and did all of the right things in the weight room. He was a wrestler and was a physical, skilled football player because of that.”

Calhoun, who retired as principal of Allegany High School after 16 years, had the chance to see Biser’s teams quite a bit as the Golden Tornado and Campers have played each other every season since 1926.

“I’ve always been impressed with Sean,” Calhoun said. “There wasn’t a time that I was at a game his team was playing in that he didn’t make a point to say hello to me and give me a big hug.

“His teams play hard and are very disciplined. Sean is a worker and he is a grinder. He’ll do a great job at Morgantown just like he did at Hampshire and at Keyser.”

Biser has done his alma mater proud and will continue to do so at Morgantown. The Golden Tornado football program is one of the strongest in the state and the foundation Biser built will benefit to Keyser High School for years to come.

I have always appreciated Coach Sean Biser and the work he has done at Hampshire and at Keyser. As a reporter, a comfort level existed because I knew I could contact him at any time and he not only would be receptive to my call, but he would do everything to accommodate me in my reporting on his team.

Sean Biser is a professional in every sense and he is a credit to coaching and to high school athletics. He is also a gentleman in the truest sense.

On a personal side, I will always be grateful for the way he was always so kind to my mother, the two having met at Dapper Dan dinners of years past. Every time Sean would see my mother, he always made the biggest fuss over her and was a gentleman in every sense of the word.

To see the two of them interact was something, as my mother was very tiny and, of course, Sean still fills a room the way you would expect a WVU offensive lineman to fill it. But, you see, my mother was a hitter — a smacker. If she liked you, she smacked you in the arm (nobody knows why to this day), and she liked Sean. And seeing the astonished expression and then big smile on his face the first time my mother laid one on to his left arm is something I will never forget.

A few years ago, I covered a Keyser playoff game at Tornado Alley on a Saturday afternoon, and my mother asked if she could go with me, as she wanted to see the new Keyser High School and stadium. Plus, since the Tornado was not playing Fort Hill (she taught there for over 25 years) she wanted to see Sean’s team play and root for them.

It was a wonderful day for all involved. On a beautiful November afternoon, Keyser won its playoff game in convincing fashion and afterward, Sean took the time to give my mother and me a guided tour of the beautiful new facilities.

It was a day my mother really enjoyed and never forgot. Sean Biser had a fan in my mother, and as he moves on to this great opportunity at Morgantown, he will do so with a lot more of his fans here at home who are sorry to see him leave Keyser, but who are thrilled for the possibilities he will face and then turn into reality.


Mike Burke writes about sports for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s County Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984. He was the sports editor of the Times-News for nearly 30 years. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT

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