FEATURED PHOTO OF NATE SOWERS BY JOHN A. BONE – THE CUMBERLAND TIMES (2003)
Last season we had the honor of forming an official all-decade team for the 2010’s. It was an awesome moment in time where the present could reflect upon the past. Our anticipation was that it could bridge the gap between the stars of yesterday, the stars of today, and the stars of tomorrow. High school football is a magical thing filled with lore, debates, and stories. We have decided to dedicate every off-season to a new all-decade team.
The process for the 2000s was simple. We went out and selected eight coaches from each class to act as a voting committee. All coached for the majority of the decade or more AND each region is fairly represented: southeast (2), southwest (2), north/northwest (2), northern panhandle (1), and eastern panhandle (1). Coaches were provided a comprehensive ballot in which to rank all-staters from 2000-2009 based off high school performance, individual/team accomplishments, and some college/pro success. Players received more points for being ranked higher and the overall tally was created with the top vote getters earning a selection. The next three highest were awarded utility positions on both sides. Players who received votes for multiple positions were averaged out. The top three highest vote getters were awarded captain status.
*NOTE: to qualify for the all-decade team we decided a player needed to play two or more years within said decade. And, a player can only be on one all-decade team. Relevant to this team, RB Mark Wigal (Morgantown 98-00) and OL Josh Stewart (University 98-00).
Class AAA 2000’s All-Decade Team
Sowers secured the top quarterback of the decade by a wide margin while also being named captain, all with good reason. The dual-threat quarterback was as prolific as they come, accounting for 8515 passing yards and 113 touchdowns along with 2427 rushing yards and 38 more scores. This earned him the 2004 Kennedy Award after leading the Bulldogs to their third state title appearance in four years. Sowers would accept a chance to play for West Virginia University where he had a notable career as a defensive back.
Culbertson’s legend was born during the age of Nitro’s high octane offense. It had been half a decade since the Wildcats’ last playoff birth and with Culbertson’s tough running and deceptive speed, they reached the postseason three straight seasons. His senior year was most memorable when he led Nitro to the state championship while also claiming the 2005 Kennedy Award. Culbertson finished his career with an incredible 7844 rushing yards which remains a state record. He would play collegiately at West Virginia Tech.
Morgantown’s late 90’s and early 00’s stretch of elite runningbacks was topped by Farley’s great career. The powerful yet big-run bound back was the centerpiece for the Mohigan offense for three seasons. With Farley totting the rock, Morgantown would win the 2002 state title, lose by 14-13 in the semifinals to the eventual champs in 2003, and cap off one of the best team seasons in state history with another title win in 2004. Farley ran for 2361 yards and 54 touchdowns (a record yet to be broken) that season. He would sign to play at Ohio University.
Barrett was the second half of one of the deadliest passing connections in state history. As a speedy, playmaking outside threat, Barrett would help lead the Bulldogs to two state title appearances. Incredibly, as a wide receiver, he not only won the 2002 Kennedy but also the 2003. His receiving stats were incredible at 253 receptions 3708 yards and 74 touchdowns (state record). Upon graduation, he would sign to play for West Virginia University.
When Dobson arrived at South Charleston the Black Eagles had not been to the playoffs in over a decade. Being a vital part as a tall, high-radius receiver, Dobson helped them to two playoff appearances before ultimately winning the state title in 2008. He accumulated 108 receptions 2365 yards and 32 touchdowns on his career with an additional 10 interceptions defensively. Dobson would go on to have an all-conference career for Marshall University and eventually be drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots, finishing his NFL career with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals.
Many statistically amazing receivers came through Nitro between 1995-2010 but Fulmer bested them all. A key part of one the most powerful offenses in state history, Fulmer saw the Wildcats back to the state title game in which they would lose narrowly to Morgantown. He finished his career with 329 receptions and 5068 yards (a former state record recently broken by Mingo Central’s Drew Hatfield in 2019). His route running and catching ability earned him a chance to play for Eastern Kentucky University.
Jenkins earns his spot as the third captain and highest voted lineman of the decade. Playing for Bernie Buttrey, the colossal yet athletic Jenkins was as dominant as advertised. He helped the Big Reds to back-to-back state championships on pace to winning two consecutive Hunt Awards (modern-day Stydahar). He finished his career with an incredible 158 pancakes, 113 tackles, and 7 sacks. He would play for West Virginia University where he would be a multi-year starter.
Legursky was apart of a stretch at Woodrow Wilson in which John Lilly produced multiple Division I linemen; of that group, Legursky was the most impressive. Helping the Flying Eagles to two playoffs in three seasons, his elite play came from a mastery in strength and legitimate speed and agility. After winning the Hunt Award (Stydahar) as a senior, Legursky would sign to play with Marshall University where he would become an All-American. Eventually, he would get into the NFL where he started multiple years (including a Super Bowl) for the Steelers, Bills, and Chargers.
Brandt was a domineering force on John Bower’s run-heavy offenses that saw some of the best teams in state history. As a lumbering tackle, he helped pave the way for the single-season rushing touchdown record and the largest average win margin in AAA history. As a senior he would win the 2005 Hunt Award (Stydahar) and then choose to sign and play for the Mountaineers of West Virginia University.
Though Scott Tinsley’s Nitro teams are often remembered for their statistically stellar skill players, Snodgrass might have been the best prospect to rise out of the 2000s. The strong and aggressive two-way linemen was the leader up front for the Wildcats and was needed to help them reach the 2005 state championship in which they narrowly lost. He blocked for the AAA season rushing record and the all-time career rushing leader. Snodgrass would graduate and see multiple years of action for West Virginia University.
Long before the annual prevalence of elite linemen rising out of Spring Valley came Nate Howard. At 6’5 and nearly 300 pounds, he was a smashmouth force for the Timberwolves. He helped lead their powerful rush offense to back-to-back playoff appearances (only the third and fourth in school history at the time). For his great efforts, he won the 2002 Hunt Award (Stydahar). He would then go on to play for Marshall University.
Amedro was handedly the second-highest voted quarterback but among the highest voted overall players. Though the Monarchs did not have a ton of team success, that didn’t stop the coaching committee in recognizing Amedro’s stellar passing ability and big-level play. After throwing for 2939 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior, he signed to play for Appalachian State. He would then transfer to West Liberty University where he had one of the greatest quarterback careers at the Division II setting multiple national records and being a Harlon Hill trophy finalist (Division II Heisman equivalent).
Harris was one of the most exciting players in the 2000’s. He was the definition of a gamer as his dual threat, big-play style saw the Black Eagles to state championship wins in 2008 and 2009. The Black Eagles had a chance to three-peat in 2010 but were disqualified from the semifinal game. Harris finished his legendary career with over 5000 yards passing and over 3000 yards rushing along with the 2009 Kennedy Award. He would go on to play for Shepherd University. Harris passed away in 2018.
Lindamood was a statewide name due to the Lindamood familial excellence. Matt Lindamood perhaps had the most explosive offensive career for the Big Reds as his tough running and breakout ability saw Parkersburg to back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007. As a senior, Lindamood finished with 2473 yards and 35 touchdowns. Also an elite wrestler, the athletic Lindamood would graduate and have a successful stint as a fullback for West Virginia University.
Brooks was yet another important piece of a South Charleston stint that nearly ended in a three-peat. Known for his weightroom prowess, the powerful two-way lineman owned the frontlines and was vital to the Black Eagles two state championship wins in 2008 and 2009. His high school career was capped with a Hunt Award (Stydahar) selection and a collegiate career at Marshall University. Brooks passed away in 2020.
Joining the 2000s team in the earliest class possible is the defensive player some called “White Shoes”. Johnson was the top-voted defensive linemen by a wide margin and with good reason. Tall, fast, and relentless, the Big Red end had 87 tackles and 8 sacks as a senior on the way to winning the 2001 state championship (avenging their 2000 state runner-up finish). Johnson’s talent was quickly recognized, and he went on to play for Ohio University.
Only one other linemen in state history accomplished what Hudson did in the 2000s, winning both the Huff Award and Hunt Award (Stydahar). Even more impressive is that he won them in different seasons. His tenacious play off the edge was pivotal in George Washington’s state runner-up finish in 2008 with Hudson finishing with 142 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks. No player has since won two different “big three” awards in multiple seasons.
Roach can firmly be credited with the class of players that brought Martinsburg to the state championship stage. The athletic two-way lineman helped the Bulldogs to three straight playoff appearances, the first-time in school history, before capping it off with a run to the championship game in 2001. Though they fell short 28-17 to Parkersburg, Roach would be awarded the best lineman in West Virginia with the Hunt Award (Stydahar). He would sign and play at Penn State University.
Few other programs had the high-end success during the 2000’s than University who never missed the playoffs once; Jackson is arguably the best player out of this era. Incredibly strong yet quick and agile, he was dominant on both sides of the ball. As a senior, he led the Hawks to the state semifinals while recording 161 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 interception. He also had 1307 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. Jackson would start at fullback for Maryland University before getting a shot in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers.
Swisher is a key part of an excellent stretch of Big Red football. His level of play was highly recognized as the committee unanimously chose him as the highest-voted linebacker. During his career, he was a feared sideline-to-sideline tackler but also a considerably all-time offensive lineman. It all came into fruition with the Big Reds winning the title his senior season. Swisher would go on to play for Fairmont State University where he would have an all-conference career as a four-year starter.
Joining Jackson in the linebacking corps is the other arguable best Hawk prospect of the 2000s. Magro’s tough play saw University to two quarterfinals and one semifinal. His numbers spoke for themselves with 154 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. Magro’s linebacker play earned him a spot at West Virginia University where he was a career starter. He would get multiple opportunities at the highest level for the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
Tonkery’s career with the Indians saw them to three straight 10+ win seasons for the first time in the legendary school’s history, including a narrow 28-25 loss to South Charleston in the 2009 semifinals. He was a large runningback and defensive back that coincided with pristine athleticism. Tonkery finished amidst Bridgeport’s all-time rushing leaders with 2049 yards and his defensive play landed him at West Virginia University where he would become a multi-year starter at linebacker.
Riverside has yet to see anywhere near the success they had when Booker sported the purple. They reached the state semifinals in 2001 and 2002, falling to eventual champion both times by within one score. Booker’s impact was paramount on both sides having over 2000 career receiving yards and 24 touchdowns. His defensive play had him selected as a first-team all-state defensive back over several seasons. Booker would go onto play for the University of Kentucky.
Thomas was a vital component to the back-to-back titles for the Big Reds in 2006 and 2007. At quarterback, he was incredibly athletic and helped formulate an unstoppable rush offense that could also pass over top. Defensively, his state champion wrestling background made him a hard-hitting, tough secondary player- capping off his contributions. Thomas would graduate and would make some noise during his time at West Virginia University.
Peters had a stellar career for the Bulldogs. His explosive play helped Martinsburg to state championship appearances in 2004 and 2006. Of course, his most notable season was in 2006 when he took home the Huff Award after recording an amazing 12 interceptions over the course of the season. Speaking to the rarity of this accomplishment, Peters is the only defensive back to win the award since its inception in 1995.
Burkes was a key part in a class of young men who ended the longest playoff drought in school history for Capital. The fiery and well-moving lineman saw the Cougars to playoffs back-to-back years including a 2004 quarterfinals appearance. His play was well-respected, earning him the Hunt Award (Stydahar) as a senior. He would sign to play with Marshall University where he eventually became a multi-year starter up front.
Gum got the nod as one of the most memorable players of the 2000s. Much of this came with his role in leading the Patriots to their first and only state championship in school history. The stout yet speedy star was an all-time leader. He might be best remembered for his 232-yard rushing performance in a comeback to win the 2003 state title game. However, he was later awarded the Huff Award for his defensive play. He would play collegiately as a runningback for Fairmont State University.
Fogarty tops off the defensive side but very well could have been selected on offense. The all-around athlete was a key part in the Mohigans reaching the third round every year while winning the state title in 2002. Between his junior and senior season, he recorded 110 receptions for 2003 yards and 22 touchdowns. Fogarty was touted as a skill prospect and would have a career playing for UConn.
A potentially forgotten weapon for two Morgantown state title teams was Shadle as a specialist. With a big leg possessing impeccable accuracy, he was the cherry on top for one of the deadliest offenses in state history- setting a record of 105 points scored. His career long kick was a stellar 50 yards long. One of the highest recruited kickers ever out of West Virginia, he would play at Syracuse University where he was an annual national watch list kicker.
Kimes was selected multiple times as the best punter in AAA but his real contribution was obviously playing quarterback for the Big Reds. An overall elite athlete, his mix of passing and rushing was ahead of its time. En route to two state title game appearances, winning in 2001, Kimes tallied over 6000 yards of offense with 52 touchdowns. He finished with 38 career wins. Kimes would have a highly successful collegiate career for West Virginia Wesleyan in which he was a school record setter and all-conference quarterback.
The 2000s saw many excellent coaches. Martinsburg’s Dave Walker transformed the Bulldog program, leading them to four title game appearances. Parkersburg’s Bernie Buttrey kept the Big Reds as an annual contender, winning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. Morgantown’s John Bowers won back-to-back state titles and reached the semifinals twice more. The committee selected Glen McNew as the coach of the decade for the levels that the Mohigans reached. Prior to McNew, Morgantown had one 10+ win season in school history and one state title. Under McNew, they kickstarted a decade-long stretch of 10-win seasons including McNew capturing state titles in 2000 and 2002.
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