Our North West Region borders the Valley to the south, splits along the MD/Panhandle, and touches on the Coalfields. It is the largest geographically thus why it is home to the most Single A’s. There are many storied programs through this area of the state with an unmatched uniqueness to every school. Title contenders of every class come from here every single year.
Just the Start
Mike Young is no stranger to dynasties. He has had several runs with Wheeling Central racking up multiple state championships. Though 2017 began rough with a strength of schedule that rivaled AAA schools, the Maroon Knights caught fire and cruised to a state title. We are thinking what everyone is as well… the whole gang is back.
Quarterback and defensive back Curtis McGhee III was the star through their historic run. With a true dual-threat ability, he diced up opponents on the ground and through the air. His tag-team partner offensively was Braden Price, who played in the slot but took a bulk of hand-offs as well. Between the two, defenses did not know which way to go.
Upon the line was first-team all-stater Timmy McCabe. He anchored a line that improved every game and for the most part, all return. The award winner of the squad came in linebacker Adam Murray- he was the first sophomore in state history to win the Huff Award. They also have all-state kicker Jacob Rine mounting special teams.
All these men and more are back. Wheeling Central is the most favorited out of any class to win their respective championship. When you win like they did, these expectations are created. This is something Mike Young is very familar with, however, and we expect them to be mentally and physically ready. They open up at Williamstown on August 23rd.
Rebuild or Reload?
It was no secret that South Harrison and St. Marys were among the top contenders in the state last year. On any night, they could have competed to win the championship. Between the two schools, they lose incredible star players with the likes of Freddy Canary, Cam Barnette, and Jaiden Smith. In a class decided by stars, how will this affect them?
Coach Jodi Mote has had the Blue Devils as a perennial threat for several years now with them finally getting the ring in 2016. However, as of now, they don’t seem to have an answer for losing Jaiden Smith. They do return starting quarterback Eric Illar and a promising runner in William Steele. Other faces might arrive as competition rolls around.
South Harrison is in a similar spot. With the two runners previously named gone, the Hawks must find a new way to run the system that gave them the top Single A rating from the regular season in 2017. They, too, return their quarterback Nate Wright. Landon McFadden seems to be the next in-line at runningback with Brenten Barnette leading the way in multiple spots.
Regardless, we think both teams will face early growing pains. Whether or not they make the team better or worse is in the air. We believe in both coaches and returning players. Neither play an easy schedule, that is for sure. South Harrison opens up with Doddridge County on 8/24 and St. Marys starts week two against Scott on the 31st.
The four to five schools that always linger in and out of title contention all seem to be sitting pretty going into August. Doddridge County had a spectacular defensive run that ended in the second half of the playoffs to St. Marys. They lose Seth Davis via transfer but return many of their stars like Hunter America.
Magnolia is a dangerous team, just like 2017, but do have a hard road, indeed. If they can pull those last second nailbiters, they can definitely get into the playoffs and do some damage. The same can be said for Williamstown who is a for-sure dark horse in Single A ball this year behind quarterback Carter Hayes.
A team that reminds of us South Harrison a year ago is Tyler Consolidated. They never caught their footing last year but obviously had talent and most importantly: speed. Between Griffin Phillips, Mark Rucker, and Hunter Forester, the Silver Knights are liable to light up the North-West region in a banner year.
Cameron did lose a hellacious quarterback in Colby Brown, but they return plenty of talent such as all-state Trey Scott and Travis Mickey. They have surefire all-conference players in several spots. They gave Wheeling Central their best run in the playoffs, and Scott Holt has succeeded in making them capable of a reload.
All these teams can potentially make noise within the state. Doddridge County opens up at South Harrison August 24th alongside Magnolia who hosts Sherman. Williamstown hosts Wheeling Central on the 23rd. Tyler Consolidated hosts Ritchie County the 24th.
Clay-Battelle was a bubble team last year and return a lot. They have a respected staff with top facilities. Wirt County and Valley-Wetzel are both looking at rebuilding seasons after plus .500 years. Gilmer County does not seem to be looking much changed. Notre Dame has a better schedule but lost an excellent QB. Wahama just recently found their coach and will be starting behind. Parkersburg Catholic, Paden City, Calhoun County, and Hundred are four of the smallest schools in the entire state, and it will show. Should be an exciting year of North-West Single A’s!
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!