With another football season come and gone, and us now spending time pent up in our houses while the snow comes down. It’s a good time to look back and see what went on in the 2017 football season. This was one was as memorable as any, with surprises all over the place and things going pretty much the way everyone thought it would go. We had upsets, we had disappointments, we had players make breakthroughs, and we had teams achieve everything that they set out to achieve. All in all, it was a great year, a year where you could debate number ones throughout the entire season and playoff chances came down to the last week.
We had players that really began to show the type of players they were. Being able to take yourself from a relative unknown player into a player that most fans know is an incredible achievement. Especially in the day and age that we are in.
- Kerry Martin (QB, Capital) – The talk about this kid in the off-season was the sense of unknown. No one was really sure if he would develop into a top tier QB in the state or would be a reliable athletic threat that has weapons around him. The first one occurred. He put himself on the map, and possible Kennedy Award Candidate in 2018. The QB picked up a Cincinnati offer throughout the season and put the Cougars on his back in multiple games. This kid is fun to watch and to have a chance to watch him again next year is one to look forward to.
- Jeremiah Johnston (RB, Richwood) – An explosive Sophomore from backside of Nicholas County. His name started popping up almost every week midway throughout the year. It was enough where we had to sit down and find his film on the internet. This kid is legit, and he has two more years to go. We can’t wait to see what else he will do, be on the lookout for the Lumberjacks to make a run in the next couple of years.
- Malakai Brown (WR, Hedgesville) – The numbers that this kid was through the roof. Almost unbelievable the amount of production this kid did. Not only did he do it in a season, but he did it in his Sophomore season! 81 catches for 1393 yards on 15 touchdowns. There are players who don’t achieve that in a career, much less a season. This kid is special and is one people need to keep a lookout for the next two seasons.
Teams That Shocked Us
Going into ranking teams before the season, there is typically a lot of uncertainty when you come out of the first five or six teams in the division. It falls it trying to predict the unknown and use word of mouth to hear who is good and who isn’t. These teams shocked us for a variety of reasons.
- John Marshall – These guys came out of no where. I know they knew they were going to be a good squad this year but it didn’t make it down our way. Not playing a lot of in state schools tend to push teams under the radar, but once they knocked off Morgantown, everyone knew that they were legit. Made even more impressive by beating a MSAC team in the first round of the playoffs. The word is that they are going to be better next year, and looking to make another run.
- Wheeling Park – We had lofty expectations for the Patriots and for a variety of reasons they didn’t quite meet those. They still made the playoffs and still had a successful season but we had them in the running for a possible state title contender, having them ranked at a pre-season #4. They lost 3 games by a score or less, a bounce one way or another could’ve changed their entire season. You just never know, but it did shock us to an extent to where they ended up.
- Liberty Harrison – A team that crept up on the majority of the state throughout the year and no one was really sure how good of a team they were. They recorded one of their best seasons in recent history and capped it off with a win in the playoffs.
- Summers County – With a coach leaving right before the season and a shaky start to begin the year. The Bobcats fell off the radar, but they found fire late in the season. They came into the playoffs with a favorable matchup in the brackets. Knocking off two top 5 teams in the process for a Semi-Final berth. One of the bigger surprises of the year and one that shows that it’s a full season of work that determines your season.
MSAC Proved It’s Worth
The MSAC again showed that it is still the toughest conference in West Virginia. The brutality of the schedules that these teams have to play is insane to watch. It was almost weekly that we could’ve chosen the state game of the week from the MSAC. 3 of the 4 Semi-finalists came from the conference and the conference had a total of 8 playoff teams. Literally half of the playoff teams came from the league, on the other side of that is that Triple A only has 29 total teams and those numbers should came out to around there.
The beauty of the conference is that each team had its strengths and weaknesses this season. While one team just had another teams number, that same team would struggle against another. The parity in the conference this year was fantastic to watch. Even though the Huntington Highlanders swept through the conference in the regular season, the opening matchup with Spring Valley was not with exception with the weather and it being Spring Valley’s opening game.
For Spring Valley, it was an utter domination at the hands of the Hurricane Redskins that made us ask the question if they could make a run this season. Then questions with Cabell Midland, even though their record didn’t match their ability, it was always a question of will their defense hold up and can this year’s team take the next step. Capital, it was always about them, you would see them go out and put on a great performance but fall over themselves at times to question if they were for real or not.
What can be said, it was another fun year of the conference. We saw many great players that will go on to have great college careers. We saw coaches coach their tails off and make their teams be as great as they could. It is a game of inches, and this conference can define that statement.
The Beauty of the Unknown – Single A Football in West Virginia
A Ten Seed won the State Championship.
The Semi-finals included a matchup between the 12 and 10 seed in the division.
Week in and week out, watching the unknown of outcomes made it awesome to debate and talk about throughout the season. There was times where we would see teams have a great record and we were like how in the world did they do that, that probably occurred 5 or 6 times. It made ranking the teams, especially after the top 5 very difficult at times and I’m sure people had their own doubts.
The division sort of played out to where we thought it would end up, did we see Wheeling Central winning it all this year, I don’t think any of us did. We did see the heavy weights come up and prove that they were going to be good. East Hardy, St. Marys, South Harrison, and Midland Trail all did what we thought they would do. Wheeling Central was a slight unknown as we knew they were sort of young, but didn’t know if this would be the season they would grow up.
Below that, Cameron put on another great season but just got the worst possible matchup for them in the first round. Webster County came from no where with a great season, finishing the regular season ranked in the top 5. Richwood and Jeremiah Johnston put together a late season run that squeezed them into playoffs.
I could on and on about teams that were on fire then fell off, or teams that did the opposite with a late season run. There were teams that disappointed this season and didn’t do nearly as much as we predicted they would. There were great battles that determined who were the best teams in the state, and there were absolute shockers that made us question everything. That’s the beauty of Single A Football, and that’s why it needs to stay for as long as it can.
The Beavers Did it
We wrote at the beginning of the year quite a bit on the Bluefield Beavers. It was a topic for great discussion and one that led to disagreements amongst the staff. They proved a lot of us wrong with how far they came this season. From an opening season win in the biggest game of the year against a team that seemed to out gun Bluefield all over the field, to a late season run that showed them to be nearly unstoppable at points.
The best part about their season and their run, is that they beat almost everyone that anyone could make an argument would be better than them. They literally removed all doubt this season.
Opening Game Win against Graham – Check
Beat Triple A Opponents Three Weeks in a Row – Check
Beat Virginia Power Richlands – Check
Beat Year in and Year Out Contender Point Pleasant – Check(Twice)
Beat Bridgeport – Check
Beat Star Studded Fairmont – Check
Their resume is impressive, went an entire year without a blemish. They rightfully deserved the title this season, and removed all arguments from the C&C staffroom.
Would’ve loved a rematch between them and the Miners though.
Thanks From Us
We had an incredible time this year doing this. For us, the joy came from the people reading it. We do this for fun but you guys made it even better. The future is bright, brighter than it seems. For us, we have much more to do, and much more to come.
So from all of us at Coalfields & Co, Thank you!