The 2018 off-season has seen some interesting turns. Recruiting within the Mountain State seems to continue its upward trend, teams seem to be taking advantage of the offered flex days within the off-season, June ball is right around the corner along with the 7v7 circuit, and it is about that time where headlines in transfers and scheduling begin making waves. Let’s take a look:
Progress in Going D1
The mid-2010’s sparked waves of big-time colleges coming through West Virginia. Huntington and Spring Valley paved the way with big-time lineman and both have their highest recruited ones yet (Darnell Wright and Doug Nester) as well as their two teammates (Max Howell and Zach Williamson). Now though, we have seen a barrage of Division One offers going out to players outside that hotbed and outside of AAA.
Dewayne Grantham (Martinsburg) and Grant Wells (George Washington) have already signed D1 and players such as Kerry Martin Jr. (Capital), Brenton Strange (Parkersburg), Tyler Komorowski (Weir), Jestohn Moore (Morgantown), Bray Price (Wheeling Central), and newly offered upcoming sophomore Isaiah Johnson (Bluefield) all have Division One offers.
Division One is definitely not everything, but it is a good sign that big schools are looking here. Combines such as the Appalachia Prep Combine, the Nike Opening (increasing WV invites), and the upcoming 304 Elite Camp are all vital in getting these players athletic showcasing. It’s not there yet considering combine results only say so much- refer to Vontaze Burfict, NFL pro-bowler of the Cincinnati Bengals. Regardless, the progress is great and much appreciation to those helping to give these kids exposure.
An intersting story came about on the web regarding Lincoln County’s 2018 schedule. The Panthers (AA) scheduled six Single A programs for the upcoming season which automatically disqualifies them from the playoff mathematically. They apparently did the same thing in the 2017 as well where they finished 3-7 (2-5 vs Single A schools).
The decision to continue with this brought about a large opposition calling for the firing of the coach and athletic director. Many people argue that not giving the kids a fighting chance going into the season defeats the purpose of playing the games in the first place. What type of message does this send to the kids who are playing a sport supposedly molding character?
The other side argues that: what’s the point of going against AA schools and getting blown out by 60? They say that the program can get back on track with the kids learning how to win against lower level competition instead of suffering harsh defeats week in and week out. It’s an interesting situation with very opinionated sides.
Scheduling as a whole is a very tedious process. Some schools play treacherous schedules and have it pay out while others get beat down from it. Being in a conference does promise matchups but what happens when the conference is too elite and middle teams get beat down to bottomfeeders? Is it cowardly to leave or is it smart?
The Applachia Free Agency
Transferring from schools by players has always been a trait of high school sports. Traditionally, it hasn’t been too common here in West Virginia compared to the rampant market you hear about down in sport hotbeds like Florida and Texas. However, it seems to be in the discussion every year now.
Previous cases regarded star players of Tug Valley like Jeremy Dillon and Dawson Elia who went on to have VERY successful careers at Mingo Central with a state championship, Kennedy Award, and multiple all-state selections. The Kanawha Valley will always have recruitment out of middle school occur when the talent pools are so fertile. Big name players like Curon Cordon (South Charleston to Hurricane) and Quisean Gray (Riverside to Capital) both are cases of transferring going on during high school.
We are not claiming by any means that these transfers weren’t due to physical moves or other reasons outside sports- just pointing at the trend considering the increasing rumors of #5 RB Donovan Kirby making the move from Madonna to Weir, a team poised to be a serious contender in AA. Once again, not claiming anything is occurring or the reasoning is bad. These are kids and every situation is unique and it shouldn’t be up to the outside sperspective to decide if it is right.
How the 2018 season is beginning to look…
Not so fast, you won’t catch our predictions this early but there are some obvious trends we see. Capital is the only school that has their quarterback returning, a very good one we might add, along with mostly every big-time player they had whereas the others in the top 10 all look to replace their main men. One cannot downplay the evergoing dominance of Martinsburg though.
Huntington, though incredibly impressive with their players’ camp performances, is still needing to replace Luke Zban at QB and Jadon Hayes at RB. Spring Valley lost several stud athletes but have a beastly line along with top tier RBs. We are interested in seeing that one AAA, similar to John Marshall of 2017, rise out of nowhere.
Honestly, Bluefield has to replace thousands of offensive yards but no one can deny they don’t have a lot returning compared to Mingo Central, Fairmont Senior, and Bridgeport. The Big Ten and Cardinal Conference are wide open it seems as who can rise as the team to beat. We also watch for some dormant monsters sitting in the panhandles that could shake up the entire state.
Single A? Yeah, Wheeling Central.