WEST UNION, W.Va. — Thirteen wins and the school’s second appearance in a state championship game — Doddridge County took their 2019 season to the brink of a state title before falling to Wheeling Central in the final. An incredible senior class led by the program’s all-time leading rusher in Hunter America, all-time leading receiver in Griffin Devericks and multiple all-state lineman Cole James have moved on.
“One of, if not the greatest classes to come through here,” said Doddridge County head coach Bobby Burnside. “So special and tremendous and you really don’t replace those guys. That’s why our theme this year is ‘team’. We are going to need everyone thinking about the team and what they can do to help the team. And we will be OK.”
Despite some notable graduations, the Bulldogs will feature several returning starters on both sides of the ball. It all starts with three of the big guys.
“Up front is always a big focus. We lose two seniors but one of them (Cole James) was a two-time all-stater and the other was very solid in Cole and Devin (Farley). So that’s where our main focus is.”
Senior Reese Burnside returns in the backfield after rushing for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns. He averaged 9.6 yards per carry as a junior.
“I expect him to do whatever the team needs, whether that is block or run the ball. He is a team player and I think we have a great committee of backs with Reese, Dylan (Knight) and Simon (James).”
Junior Jared Jones should step in under center after serving as the backup to Noah Bumgardner last year.
“Jared and Noah were in a great battle last year for the quarterback spot. Noah won it and had a good season but Jared was right there. He is looking sharp right now. He is a good athlete too. He brings another dimension to our offense.”
Junior Dylan Knight was the team’s second-leading tackler behind Austin Kelley and should have an increased role on the offense alongside senior Hunter Jenkins.
“Hunter Jenkins is a great athlete. He’s a first-team all-state safety for us. He had a little bit of a role on offense last year and a lot bigger role this year.”
The Bulldogs have posted a record a 33-5 over the last three seasons and although some new names will work into the lineup, they remain a top contender in the Class A field.
“Expectations have definitely risen. This group, they got a great taste, some of them for two years now with two undefeated seasons in the semifinals and then last year in the championship coming up a little bit short. The expectations don’t mean anything unless we put the work in. That is what we are trying to do.”