MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Around the turn of the 21st century, one of the best dynasties in the history of West Virginia high school sports was crafted by Alan Fiddler at Moorefield. The Yellow Jackets advanced to the Class A championship game in eight consecutive seasons from 1996 to 2003. In that span, MHS won six titles.
Fiddler was named head coach in 1993. The Jackets win winless that fall and won three games the following year.
“We had to establish the culture in the weight room and get the kids stronger, more involved and putting the work in year-round,” Fiddler said. “We had to get a JV program going, a middle school program going and we established those things in the first couple years.
“When I first got to Moorefield, I would open the weight room in the summer and I would have two or three kids show up. Then it got to be where I would have kids trying to break into the weight room to go lift.”
In Fiddler’s third season, Moorefield went 9-3, advancing to the Class A quarterfinal round.
“We started to get some traction going. We came back the next year and just had an unbelievable team led by Will Fisher and Malcolm Chandler.
“In 1995, we started to go in a fast no-huddle. We were probably the only team in the state doing it at the time. It really caused people a lot of problems. Now everybody does it so it is not as beneficial.”
State championships followed in four consecutive seasons from 1996 to 1999. MHS also won titles in 2001 and Fiddler’s final season of 2003. Over his final eight seasons, the Yellow Jackets went 95-12. That record included a 31-game win streak. He credits multi-sport athletes and extended seasons for keeping the program at a high level.
“We had a lot of three-sport kids. Brent Metheny was an all-stater in three sports. One of the biggest things is we got on people. So we were able to play a lot of young kids. And when you are playing in a state championship game, we get an extra four weeks of practice every year and four extra games to help develop those young kids. It kind of fed on itself.”
Back to his alma mater in Glenville
In 2004, Fiddler returned to his alma mater, becoming the head coach at Glenville State.
“The length of the game was so much different. You are playing almost another quarter. In high school, when you would get up on somebody, you could sub out. In college, they have scholarships too. They are going to come back on you. So it is a four quarter deal. And the week-long preparation, you had more time to deal with just football. It was a lot of fun.”
The Pioneers went 9-2 in Fiddler’s second season and claimed the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in 2008 with an 8-3 mark.
“We had (running back) Jerry Seymour and he was phenomenal. He transferred in from Central Michigan and was an All-American.
“When we got good on both sides of the ball, we were really good. In 2005 and 2008 we accomplished that. Some other years we would be really good on offense or defense and struggled on the other side.”
On to Roanoke
In 2011, Fiddler returned to the high school game, becoming the head coach at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Va. Prior to Fiddler’s arrival, the Patriots went a dozen years without qualifying for the postseason.
“(Patrick Henry) is a big high school, a lot different than Moorefield. We are dealing with a two thousand student high school now, playing in 5A. We are in a really tough region. I tell our guys, ‘You are not going to be just playing guys that will play on Saturdays, you’ll go against guys that will be playing on Sundays.
“When we get into the playoffs, we’ll go against teams that have five, six or seven Division I kids on them. So it is a little different.”
Entering his tenth season this fall, Fiddler has compiled a 61-38 record at Patrick Henry. They claimed their first playoff win in 25 years in November.
“We came in and turned the program around. It has been pretty steady. We are working hard to take the next steps. In 5A, when you get in the playoffs and you take on Virginia Beach-area teams, you have to be on the top of your game to be successful.”
Fiddler’s resume at Moorefield can’t be equalled by many coaches but his college teammate can stake a claim. Former Martinsburg head coach Dave Walker won eight titles in the past decade for the Bulldogs. Like Fiddler, Walker has moved on to a Division II program. Walker is entering his first season at Concord this fall.
“We talked and I gave him the best advice I had. I said, ‘Man, you do what you feel like you need to do. I can’t make this decision for you’. He thought it over and I know it was tough for him to leave Martinsburg. But he really wanted that challenge of going to the college level and trying to be successful there. And I know he will be.”
Back in the recruiting game
Fiddler is now seeing the college recruiting game from a different angle. His twin daughters Shelby and Marin are both top-level athletes at Patrick Henry. Shelby in a basketball standout in the Class of 2022 and just picked up a Division I scholarship offer from Niagara University.
“Basketball is a little different, especially in the girls game. They recruit players so much younger than what we did in Division II football. She is excited about the offer she has. She works hard and is one of the hardest working kids I have been around.
“Her sister is a soccer player and it really breaks her heart she didn’t get to play soccer this year because they play in the spring in Virginia. She was getting recruited and hopefully we can get her going again.”