The Press Box For Sept. 6
There is a road that all must take, it’s a difficult road and the better vehicle’s usually get to the finish line first. However, sometimes there are obstacles along the way that hinder the best vehicle’s from finishing the race, sometimes the road is just to rough and you crash along the way.
This has happened many times over the years. We’re talking football here! Teams start out early in the looking unbeatable and then just like in a Cross Country race here comes the winner from behind to take the win.
Years ago, but not really that long ago everyone played on an even field. What you had living in your community was what you got. There wasn’t anything unfair about it, you decided to live somewhere and you played there, period.
There was also a time when everyone had a chance, a time when communities surrounded their schools with pride and being a part of that made it fair game for all.
I would venture to say that right here along the Ohio River between Weirton and Parkersburg you could find some of the best athletes the state has every produced. State Football championships began in West Virginia back in 1937 under the governing of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC). At that time the Champion came from a single class system and was named by the West Virginia Sportswriters Association.
The system changed in 1947 to a two class system based on enrollment and in 1955 it became a three class system, Class B, Class A, and Class AA. It was again changed in 1958 and has remained until the present time as Class A, AA, AAA also based on enrollment.
Throughout those years there were not always championship games as championships were awarded based on ratings. Those were in the early years, sure glad they changed that part, for the road to a championship would have been filled with holes.
The highway to the finals use to be what athletes in small, medium and large communities looked to travel. They worked hard all year to see it paved, to make it easy to drive. People from all over the state knew what the odds were to get there. You had to support your local school, invest in your community and encourage (not discourage) everyone to take part. Whether it was as a fan, in the band or on the team, it was your duty!
For whatever reason, good things always seem to come to and end. Back it the sixties and early seventies the top two teams in each Class, based on a point system made it to the Championship game. They worked all season to get the highest rating they could by playing the toughest teams and shying away from done. That’s how they paved their way. The coaching staffs were sold out to their schools and did whatever it took to keep everyone involved. Everything was working on eight cylinders.
Starting in 1964 Magnolia defeated Mount Hope 15-7 to take the Class AA crown. Eight miles down river Sistersville put a 27-0 thrashing on Fairview. The streak had started, our local schools started churning out high performance vehicles. Magnolia also made rides to the finals in 1972, 1981, 1992, 1993 and 2008 before the big win in 2010 over East Hardy.
Paden City got in on the game in 1968 as they made it to the finals but fell to Monongah 21-12 at Fairmont East-West Stadium, the following year 1969, the Wildcats again lost to a Nick Saben/Kerry Maurbury led Monongah team 20-0. However, in 1970 they tuned up the vehicle and drove home a 20-6 winner over Wirt Co.
1979 proved to be another road to success for the Wildcats as they uphended Bishop Donahue 19-6. This propelled the Tigers of Sistersville to put the pedal to the medal and churn out seven straight appearances in the championship game with five wins and two losses. Two of those game came against cross county rival Tyler County high school. One a win 14-0 and another a loss 16-14.
After a brief break from the local schools dominating the game, Valley Wetzel picked up the slack to the finish line with five appearances in six years from 1993 to 1998. They never made it over the top but represented the area well.
These past Wetzel and Tyler County teams produced five of the top fifty players of the past fifty years (that’s fifty percent) as published by the Intelligencer and News-Register. They also have had four Kennedy Award Winners, plus 32 All-Valley Captains, from 1953-2015. These were the best of the best from Wetzel and Tyler and as I look back several others could have made the grade.
From there it looks like changes had to come. The kids from Wetzel and Tyler Counties had drawn fear from most of the state and the only thing to stop them would be a demolition derby.
Somewhere along the line brains started churning and the choice was made to allow more teams to participate in the playoffs which resulted eventually to be the 16 team playoff format.
The reasoning was to get more teams a chance but it also opened the door for unfair matchups. As the playoff system changed so did the desire to get to the finish line, the big ride now became lets try and make it to the playoffs. With the change in classifications it became nearly impossible for many schools to get a run let alone a ride down championship road. Beyond that however the playoffs for the most part have been dominated by Catholic Schools who either have open enrollment to enhance their programs or combine schools to make them better.
So as I’ve said in the past another Class is needed. Four Class’s and an eight team format will make it all more competitive and give everyone a chance to travel that road to success. I t would then change from the Super Six to the Super Eight with a little less road to travel. firstname.lastname@example.org.