WHEELING, W.VA. (WTRF)- To win a state title is a rarity for many football programs, but that wasn’t the case for the back to back defending state champs, Wheeling Central. But to win a state title after losing your star quarterback halfway through the season with a tough road ahead as the tenth playoff seed is a challenge.
When Wheeling Central defeated Doddridge County 38-21 on Saturday night in the Class A W.Va state title game, the feeling was that much sweeter for Coach Mike Young who knew this particular trophy was especially earned.
“The journey was long but that’s what happens when you only win six games. We lost to some good teams and continued to get better, we won to some good teams and continued to get better and that’s the reason we’re here tonight.”
But the trip back to the Island for a third consecutive state championship wasn’t easy. The Knights had to endure long roadtrips against higher seeded opponents. And Jacob Rine found himself with a big job as Central’s new quarterback.
“You know when you have to step in and you have big shoes to fill, I’m just proud of my teammates because they made my life a lot easier, when you have playmakers out there.”
And speaking of playmakers.
“With Curtis going down, we knew we had to make big plays and I knew it would come down to me to be a playmaker and just plays.”
“You know quitting was not an option, we had to step up more, focus more, Watkins one of them, he played a phemoninal second half of the season and I’m proud of him. People like that.”
And after having to sit out due to the remainder of the season, one person found the championship extra meaningful.
“It feels great, almost as if I was there on the field with them.”
This is Wheeling Central’s 12h state title in football, but possibly one of the most adverse seasons the program’s ever seen. A season for the books.
“We’ve gone through a lot this year and that just shows how much of a family we are. We’re truly a family.”
For Bordas and Bordas Beyond the Field I’m Caroline Peters