The Valley Region is the most dense area regarding talent. From Huntington to Charleston with a trickle towards Parkersburg, this is the most historically excellent region in the state. It hosts the majority of the hardest WV conference: the MSAC and guaranteed title contenders in all three classes every year.
Several season ago, Tolsia rose from practically nowhere in AA to battle Bridgeport in the AA state championship. In 2017, in Single A ball, the Rebels won two games. These peaks and valleys are usual occurrences. Historically speaking, Tolsia should be excited because their valleys are always followed with a peak. Coach Eric Crum took over fresh last year and through injuries and some senior-heavy opponents- fell often.
Fast forward to 2018, and Tolsia might be the biggest dark horse of any class. They return almost every player and have injuries healed up. Devon Crum is much bragged about as runningback from multiple sources and comes in healthy after being sidelined last year. He will go behind a very experienced line that features potential all-staters Stone Sartin and Brent Setser. Both these men are under the radar big men with enormous upside.
It is expected to see even more players step up. Austin Gauze is a three-way playmaker that seemed to impress a lot through camp and into August training camp. Coach Crum seems to have the Rebels approaching this season with a chip on their shoulder and a lot of making up to do. Their schedule, this season, features previous playoffs teams in rebuilding mode. It should get interesting in a hurry. They host Fairland (OH) opening week.
What’s the Buffalo Bill?
As with several other Valley A’s, Buffalo featured a new coach, tough schedule, and sub-500 performance. Buffalo had bright spots with several close games and star QB Ethan Burgess. He is gone, yet this year looks brighter. Coach Brian Batman, a very experienced man around the Buffalo program, has Jackson England stepping into the shoes at QB.
England notably was put into several big-time games and handled himself with a lot of poise for such a young signal caller. His role increases tenfold. Luckily, he will have a four-year starter, Jacob Brannan, and former freshman all-stater, Park Michaels, paving the way for him.
Buffalo has historically been an excellent ground team with reliable lines. It seems Coach Batman will return that mentality and setup with his own twists. Buffalo doesn’t seem to make a complete 180 but expect them in the mix definitely. They will travel to Greenbrier West August 24th.
Rise of the Red Devils
Ravenswood went 5-5 in 2017 but damn were they fun to watch. Featuring a tough defense that often time forced takeaways, the offense was often littered with injuries that through young players in there. It is near impossible to gain traction with their schedule and those occurrences. 2018 will be a new shot for the Red Devils and new head man Eric Hupp.
The Red Devils return several notable names. Luke Jackson has become a popular linebacker for his strong build and devastating hits. Expect much of that again as he will captain the traditional tough defense. Two talked about lineman in front, on both sides, will be Zack Graham and Nic Williams. Both have developed into well-sized hogs with the proper conditioning to go both ways.
Finally, a new a quarterback will step into play, but he isn’t an unfamiliar face. He actually ranks on the school’s all-time passing lists here and there. Max Hilton, a mobile type with long range, has been asked under a multitude of circumstances to step in and lead the Ravenswood offense. Many a times, he has delivered.
Ravenswood road will not be easy as it never is. Their schedule includes a returning Webster County, promising Williamstown, loaded Sherman, high-ranked Doddridge County, runner-up St. Marys, and AAA-rival Ripley. If they improve record-wise this year, they will have definitely earned it. They host Wahama on the 24th.
The two remaining Single A’s in the Valley Region both will have a new look going into the season. Wahama, who went 5-5 last season, has hired James Toth of Logan after departing with long and successful coaching staff. The job wasn’t decided until late which should have the White Falcons rather behind when the season gets here. Hannan, after many tough seasons, has taken an approach unseen before and hired Kellie Thomas, the first female coach in state history. Behind Coach Thomas we expect a good change of pace and promising result in the future. As for now though, they must survive and develop.
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!