The halfway point has arrived. We love all the support and appreciation we have gotten so far. We enjoy criticism, too- it makes us better. We must also shout out sportswriters, newspapers, and statisticians for making our collective commentary possible and much easier. It’s been fun, so far, and we can’t wait for the second half! Anyways, for our awards we’re not taking the basic road. We’ve compiled teams of rising names, awarded some units, and reminisce on the some of the best games so far!
Note: Rising Stars are players that were not mentioned in the preseason and have had great seasons.
All-Rising Star Team
QB: Khori Bass (Oak Hill)
RB: Evan Rose (Pikeview)
WR: Devin Persinger (Greenbrier East)
LB: Avante Burnett (Woodrow Wilson)
DB: JJ Davis (Bluefield)
Oak Hill – Did not see Oak Hill making the strides they have this season. They have put themselves in great position to make a run at the Double A playoffs. After ending a two-season spanned losing streak, the Red Devils have one of the top rushers in the state, Khori Bass. He is out with a shoulder injury right now, but hopefully will return to aid Christian Lively in their hopes for the playoffs.
Independence – What we thought was going to be even more stellar defense than in 2016 has not performed quite as well. The defense is still good, but mistakes and a lack of experience have them in a rough spot. We still think they’re a good team looking for an identity.
Mingo Central Skill – Jeremy Dillon has continued his campaign to defend the Kennedy Award. His passing ability looks improved, and the Miners have found a vital role for transfer Dawson Elia- a runner who looks more and more comfortable every game. Drew Hatfield is making a case for 1st team all-state again, and he is freed up with the swell performances of Josh Reed. This unit has boasted 60+ points multiple times.
Mingo Central at Point Pleasant – A clash of powers that ended in complete drama. In the season opener, Jeremy Dillon and Cason Payne combined for nearly one thousand yards and a dozen touchdowns. Point Pleasant was defending a lengthy regular season and home winning streak and had the game won. That was until Jeremy Dillon stepped up, rolled out with the clock at 0:00 forty yards away from the endzone. He threw a beamer over multiple Black Knights and found Dawson Elia in the back of the endzone to start the season off with the team storming the field.
Mingo Central – The Miners have sort of became the Oregon of West Virginia. Their reputation for quality ranging from the school to the stadium to the uniforms really represents the support of the community. They have numerous combinations with snowy white, light blue, solid black, and matte gray. The end results come off quite sharp.
All-Rising Star Team
QB: Will Hackney (Sissonville)
RB: Caden Easterling (Riverside)
WR: Deshawn Harper (Capital)
LB: Logan Spurlock (Capital)
DB: Graeson Maleshevich (Spring Valley)
Poca – Once a storied and championship winning program, Poca finally broke a losing streak that spanned for years. They’ve won two games thus far, and the state couldn’t be prouder. It can’t be talked about enough for a group of young men to not just defeat an opponent but defeat a cloud of gloom hanging over their heads.
George Washington – This is a drop, but we aren’t counting the Patriots out. Their schedule was set up for a second half renaissance, however, we thought with experience and the stars of offense and defense, Grant Wells and Tanner Williams, they would be more of a contender at this point. Their coaching staff knows what they’re doing and Wells has shown his 2016 ability as of recent.
Spring Valley Offensive Line – We wanted to give this to Capital’s skill group for their depth or even Huntington’s line. However, this front for Spring Valley needs proper love. They have became a D1 pipeline for massive tackles and Doug Nester might be the best yet (ranked our #1 player in West Virginia). Alongside this towering line, even the tight end Jacob Cassidy is Division One bound. Their rushing numbers are honorable, and the hogs will keep wollering in that mud.
Capital at Cabell Midland – Kerry Martin Jr. played his tail off to the very last second. Capital’s skill set diced up the Scarlet Knight defense and got up by as many as 21 points in the third quarter. Heavy running by Isaiah Duncan and Ivan Vaughn made it a game again late. Tied with few seconds remaining, the Cougars attempted a quick score to avoid overtime. In some form of luck, pass interference was called on a short pass giving them an untimed down. In movie-like fashion, Martin Jr. waited and waited until tossing the pigskin thirty yards away. The ball flew over multiple Knights and into the arms of Anthony Pittman, who sprinted into the endzone for a walkoff win. The Capital sideline stormed him in the endzone.
Huntington – With a gorgeous set of yellows, the Highlanders take the Coalie for the best uniform out of the Valley region. Accented with the green pants combination, it put the Highlanders over the others for the best uni. There matte green helmet with matching green tops is also impressive. They also have a black uni and pants with yellow outlining which is very appealing.
All-Rising Star Team
QB: Clay Bailey (University)
RB: Donovan Kirby (Madonna)
WR: Antonio Parsons (Fairmont Senior)
LB: Jermain Snodgrass (Wheeling Park)
DB: Dereck Hess (John Marshall)
Philip Barbour – This could have went to the Liberty (Harrison) Mountaineers, but Philip Barbour was 0-10 in 2016. Chase Collier is a big part in this resurgence as one of the leading rushers of the North-Central. They have big wins including one against Grafton (who took Liberty to 3OT). We’re hoping for more success !
Williamstown – Take this with a grain of salt just like George Washington. We aren’t calling them a bad team, they just didn’t win the games we think they should have. They suffered three straight losses to big time teams, but did get back on track with a blowout victory against Ravenswood. It’s way to early to count the Yellowjackets out.
Fairmont Senior Skill – Many units deserve recognition in the North-Central but we’ve been particularly impressed by the Polar Bear offense. Connor Neal has stepped in without missing a beat at QB and Bryson Gilbert has proven to be one of the best running backs in the state. Antonio Parsons really completes the offense with sure hands and always a big play threat- which compliments the pressures of Neal and Gilbert. They defeated Bridgeport and had a very good shot at University.
Fairmont Senior at University – This a recent one that is fresh on our minds. Connor Neal and Clay Bailey went toe-to-toe in an unexpected shootout. The stars of the game came in Bryson Gilbert and Hayden Starcher. Neither team could pull ahead confidently. In one of the most heartbreaking ways to lose, AA Fairmont Senior committed a mistake on the snap in the redzone trying to take a late lead. University recovered and would win the game 29-27.
North Marion – The Huskies play off of a good color scheme that is black and silver to really deliver on an awesome uniform. They have multiple sets of jerseys and pants. The key is their killer helmets. A matte black with a silver band wrapping around the back with a white neck. This is some nice design.
All-Rising Stars Team
QB: Chris Fox (Musselman)
RB: Trey Sine (Martinsburg)
WR: Shy Crawford (Martinsburg)
LB: Keenan Smoot (Hedgesville)
DB: Kole Puffenberger (Pendleton County)
Hedgesville – After losing star linebacker Gavin Smoot, the 2017 season seemed very uneasy. However, his younger brother, Keenan, took the reigns and performed very well. N’iyjere Smith has taken over as dual threat talent on offense and a solid lockdown defensive back. Hedgesville hasn’t beaten a high quality team, yet, but they have defeated the ones they should have which can be easier said than done. They have big matchups with Musselman, Martinsburg, and Spring Mills coming up.
Jefferson – A team that definitely has talent has really dropped from grace. Starting in the top ten and sitting win-less at the midway point is very surprising. Their schedule hasn’t been easy, and they still have some hard ones ahead. Hopefully, they can band together and get back on track.
Martinsburg Defensive Line – This is a hard call because every unit on Martinsburg is excellent. The defensive line in particular is lethal. Tavis Lee has continued destroying opposing lines while Jalen Hesen and Trey Henry are boulders who can’t be moved. Perhaps only two other offensive lines in the state could truly handle them. They have lived up to the hype in 2017 and are only getting better.
Weir at Keyser – This game was big in several ways. It answered a lot of questions about Weir and Keyser, who were neck and neck in AA polls, and showed Keyser’s blowout loss didn’t define them. In a sloppy game by both, two top defenders who also play QB, Tyler Komorowski of Weir and Brady Ours of Keyser. It didn’t have the dramatic ending as the others did but was a hard contest on both sides with the Golden Tornado coming out the winner- which no writer predicted.
Petersburg – We might have had a riot on our hands if we didn’t award this to Peterburg. However, it’s earned because we love the uniforms. They aren’t flashy or complicated, but they capitalized on a common red, black, and white color scheme. The soft red helmet with the contrasted white viking horns paired with a white jersey and black pants is our favorite combination.
It’s been great so far and we’ll make sure to have more awards come the end of the regular season. 2017 has been a great year for ball. The talent is here and we hope for more!