The Mason-Dixon Panhandle Region was created by us to even the spread of teams in the state due to the vast amount in the North West Region. The Panhandle is often a second-thought and looked at as an outsider as they tend to play in their own league and/or out-of-state. However, the king of the state lives there with some other promising title contenders. We have grouped all M/D bordering counties so the always exciting Morgantown teams are involved this time around. The fastest growing region in the state.
The Golden Tornados are coming off a successful 7-3 season in which they reached the “AA” playoffs and held their own in the first round against a very talented Fairmont Senior team. 2017 was one of the best years that “AA” football has seen in a while. With an unbelievably competitive field, we saw dark horses, unexpected upsets, and undefeated seasons from some of the most talented “AA” teams the state has ever witnessed. With that being said, come playoff time, Keyser was able to find a spot amongst these teams as a #13 seed, but they found themselves matched up against #4 Fairmont Senior and fell in the first round.
Keyser will be returning an experienced offensive line as well as a seasoned running back in senior Brady Clay. Clay really exploded last season, but he is set to have an even more productive year in 2018. Another major offensive threat for the Golden Tornados is senior wide receiver Reggie Redman. Redman is a fast receiver who doesn’t hesitate to use his size to his advantage. QB Ryan Shoemaker will be taking the reins this season and commanding this deadly offense.
They return several all-staters among the line such as Don Woodworth. Keyser has been a year-in and year-out playoff team in a class where that is not common. They will probably be able to pass more than year’s prior which could really catch teams off guard. Keyser will be off in week one but will make the trip to Berkeley Springs in week two to take on the Indians.
Run Tiger Run
The Tigers had a very constructive 2017 season as they finally found an offensive scheme that clicked and started to figure things out defensively. Most of the losses that Elkins suffered came by way of “AA” powerhouses such as Fairmont Senior and Bridgeport. Though it may not seem like it, the Tiger were five points away from being 7-3 in 2017 as they dropped a close week six game to Robert C. Byrd (28-24) and were defeated by Lincoln in the final seconds (45-44).
The Tigers finally found an offensive groove in 2017 as they had two running-backs go for over 1,000 yards on the season. A strong and talented offensive line is more than partially responsible for this, but RBs Daniel Romans and Thomas Talkington are set to have another phenomenal year on the ground and will be the main offensive weapons for this Elkins team.
The Tiger defense is set to be led by DB Chance Burdette who can not only put pressure on the best of WRs, but also provides strong run support. Austin Corey will also be returning for his senior season and will help to anchor the Elkins secondary, adding depth. Romans and Talkington are also all-state linebackers. Coach Evan Hott and the Tigers will match up with East Fairmont week one.
The Viking Bubble
Coach Kevin Board has been making steady progress to put together his team and build a culture over the last few seasons, and he may finally have all the pieces tothe puzzle. The Vikings finished 2017 at 5-5, but to say they had an unsuccessful season would be absurd. The Vikings came within one score in week four as they fell to the AAA Trojans of Hampshire County by a score of 33 to 27. In week six, Petersburg also came close as they traveled to Phillipi to take on Philip Barbour but couldn’t get it done as they were defeated last minute (35-29).
Now that this team has had some in-game experience and everyone is settled in its time for Coach Board to turn on the burners. Jacob Hartman will be returning to command the Viking offense and after stretching his legs in 2017, this gifted QB is ready to take off. Hartman is big, fast, and strong. He can run through, over, or around nearly anyone in “AA” and has an absolute cannon. His main target is likely to be returning wide receiver Peyton Singledecker who is a very precise route runner and catches most anything thrown his way.
Doug Morral will be a defensive leader for the Vikings as he brings experience and leadership to the MLB position. Morral is a sound tackler and will help to keep opposing run games in check. With a strong dual-threat offensive attack, and a solid defense the Petersburg Vikings are set to make some noise in 2018. They will travel to Berkeley Springs to take on the Indians August 24th.
Frankfort is steadily improving but has been in a rut ever since their last state championship appearance. With some returning All-State talent, runners/backer Dalton Pollock and Nick Marley, the Falcons could pick up a couple more wins in 2018 but seeing them with a winning record would be surprising. The Indians will be rebuilding in 2018 as new players come in and get used to the program. With many young players and a new coach, we see Berkeley Springs paying their dues this year and finishing with three or four wins maximum. Should be an exciting year in the panhandle AA.
FOOTBALL IS ALMOST HERE. Each week we will be diving into one of our four regions. We’ve sliced it up a little different to equal the spread of talent out. We have the Coalfields region, MD (Mason-Dixon) Panhandle region, North West region, and Valley region. We will spend a week on each in that order. Every week will include Monday: Single A, Tuesday: Double A, Wednesday: Triple A, Thursday: Preseason All-Region Team, Friday: Top 10 in the Region. Let’s get it!