What is dominance?
To declare any team a dominant team is subjective at best. There are many factors that could declare a team dominant. We will examine many of those in this article. The word dominant itself is also subjective. In our ongoing series of what are the dominant teams in West Virginia Prep history we have declared sixteen teams as potentially the greatest ever based off of statistical happenings and personnel. But, how accurate can we be?
As we all get older, generally, the better we all were. Of course, the new generation could not be tougher than the previous. In some ways that cannot be disputed, however, the size and speed of current day players are without question either. How do we measure teams in an era of segregation to those of that were not? How can we compare teams that are consolidated from three powerhouse programs or two football dominating schools such as Capital (Charleston and Stonewall Jackson) or Riverside (East Bank and DuPont)? How about population swings from McDowell County and Mercer County to the panhandle counties. How about the consolidated mega-schools of Huntington and Cabell Midland? Once again, all subjective.
So what does dominant mean in terms of West Virginia football? How can a team that was very dominant in its classification for many years in a row not be included as a top sixteen team in history? Of course, they can be a dominant team. You can be proud of the fact you dominated the competition you were presented to play. It was not your responsibility to play certain teams, even though it was your coach or A.D.’s responsibility to put you against the best competition available. But, speaking to lower classes, could you honestly say you would not just have beaten the AAA champ that year, but dominate?
Let’s examine the 1987 Winfield team that was clearly one of the best AA’s of all-time. Under the guidance of long-time legend Leon McCoy they went 13-0. They outscored their opponents 508-73 that year- a margin of 34 per game. They held 10 of the 13 opponents to 7 points or less. They won the State Championship 48-14. They set Super 6 Championship records that included Brent Wells 55-yard reception and most interceptions by Brian Stover (2). At the time, they had the most rushing TD in a Championship game (6) as well as rushing for 290 yards. They held the defensive records of fewest rushing yards allowed (109). They had three first-team all-state players (Gary Pendleton, Brent Wells, and Captain John Brown). Another dominant AA team would be several of the East Bank teams of the same era who remained in the Kanawha Valley Conference and played a AAA schedule- still going undefeated against the likes of Charleston, DuPont, Stonewall Jackson, Bluefield, and George Washington. So yes, these teams were dominant AA schools. But, they also dominated AAA teams.
Scheduling is about as important as it gets when the dust settles decades later. We can’t blame players for not being able to play other top teams. But, we also can’t assume they would have beat those teams either way. Scheduling is a great ghost that many diehards will hide behind especially decades removed from their so-called greatest teams ever. Look at who the best team in Single A was this year- Wheeling Central, who played a brutal schedule. Martinsburg’s has under a handful in-state losses this decade. Consider this and ask if these other teams could do the same. Scheduling a tough schedule and winning a title is one thing- scheduling a tough schedule and dominating everyone is getting into legend status.
How do you compare the 2017 State Championship Bluefield team that ran the table to the AAA 1962 AAA State Championship Bluefield team we labeled as one of the all-time best? Both teams dominated about as much as you can. Well, the difference is the level of competition they played against. Huge difference beating a Tazewell team and beating a Parkersburg team. Both had dynamic players in Mookie Collier and Pete Woods. The difference is what would Pete Woods have done if he played the current Bluefield schedule. Noting that none of this is meant to make one team feel inferior to the other- both were great teams and both have a lot to be proud of. The basic point is subjectivity.
We can’t say we’ll have an unarguable winner, but we will get one final team. It’s going to be fun to play out these matchups and see where it goes. Every team picked is great and historic. Nothing is supposed to be disrespectful, just crunching the numbers and looking really close. So, let the games begin.