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After last-minute playoff loss, Tolsia returns bulk of roster in 2020

GLENHAYES, W.Va. — Tolsia is just five years removed from playing in the Class AA state championship game and the Rebels appear well set up to make another long playoff run this fall. A year ago, the Rebels went 7-3 in the regular season. Now a deep and experienced roster returns.

“We’ve got eight or nine starters back on both sides,” said Tolsia head coach Eric Crum. That will make it easier as far as the transition goes. They won’t have as much of a learning curve.”

In their last five games in 2019, including the playoff game against Wheeling Central, the Rebels allowed just 40 points.

“They just played hard, I will be honest with you. We didn’t change a whole lot scheme-wise. We did what we do. We watched a lot of film and had a lot of game planning. But the kids started gaining confidence and they played hard.”

“Our leader, Stone Sartin, he really picked it up in the second half of the season,” said Tolsia senior quarterback/defensive back Tanner Copley. “He really showed us what it was like to have a lockdown defense at the end of the year.”

Most of Tolsia’s top skill players return. Jesse Muncy transitioned to the starting quarterback role midseason.

The Rebels’ top two rushers in John Wilson and Tanner Copley are back. That duo combined for 1,908 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.

“John Wilson is a horse,” Crum said. “When we want to just pound the ball and protect the lead or just slow things down a little bit, he is a stud in there. We have everybody back skill-wise.”

“We know most of our plays and that helps us add on to the new plays that we can put in there. So we don’t have to keep going over the old ones,” said Tolsia senior receiver/defensive back Gavin Meadows.

Tolsia was literally seconds away from knocking off then two-time defending champion Wheeling Central in last year’s playoff opener before a late touchdown pass allowed the Maroon Knights to escape with a 13-12 win. The memory of that loss has not faded away.

“Disappointed and proud at the same time,” Crum said. “Probably never been to that extent because we were, but we were also devastated. I thought we played well enough to win the game. We let it go there at the end. I don’t think the kids forgot it. I know we still lose sleep over it. If that doesn’t motivate you to come out here and put forth all your effort, nothing will.”

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