Wrestling, football and picks

What a year it was for the St. Marys football team of head coach Jodi Mote.

You know a team doesn’t have trust issues when it goes for it on fourth-and-inches just outside of its own 10 like the Blue Devils did against East Hardy in the Class A state championship game.

Although that led to the Cougars’ only score of the game, and some pundits didn’t like the move, I mean there was also the chance Brett Tharp could’ve returned the punt for a touchdown anyway.

After last week’s grid picks, I think it’s about time for me to call for a punt and hand the championship to Marshall University graduate Evan Bevins.

Everything was going fairly smoothly until the National Football League games started unfolding and my great start quickly turned into disaster last week.

We have decided on the final 22 bowl games we are picking and those will be out on Friday, Dec. 23. As it currently stands, if there is anyway I’m going to pull off a three-peat for the grid pick championship I’m probably going to need 20-plus correct guesses.

Mr. Bevins, who I bowed down to when I entered the newsroom on Tuesday afternoon, has been picking correctly at nearly an 82 percent rate. He will carry a 270-60 mark into the bowl picks while I’m sitting three games back.

I’d like to thank all of our guest pickers for attempting to knock off everyone on staff each week throughout the long gridiron season. Guest picker Paul Beall of Ritchie County actually tied Bevins this week with an 18-4 mark. Beall also tied for the top mark at 20-2 when he picked in week three.

Unless someone picks all 22 games correctly for the bowls, it will be another year with no perfection as this will be the last chance for anyone to go undefeated in a given week.

Bevins had the only 21-1 performance and that came during week six. Bevins also had 20-2 showings in both week five and week 10.

Steve Hemmelgarn, who has climbed back into third place overall and is six games behind Bevins, actually had 20-2 showings in week two and week 14. He, along with myself, Jordan Holland and Joe Albright also went 20-2 in week seven.

Only three pickers during the year defeated all the prognosticators at the paper — Patrick Burgy in week one went 20-2, Ross Mullenix went 16-6 during a very tough week four slate and, of course, the Hammer — former 14-0 state championship coach Jim Hamric of Spencer High, who also spent time as the athletics director at Parkersburg High School, closed out the regular season with a 20-2 mark in week 11 to beat us all.

A tip of the cap goes to Mountain State ratings expert Ed Forshey, who went 20-2 in week 10 as well as Michael Uhl, who went 18-4 in week 13. Both of those marks tied Bevins for tops of the week.

Winter is nearly upon us and wrestling season is well underway. Parkersburg South is sending grapplers Tucker Windland, Luke Martin, T.J. Lambiotte, Hunter DeLong, Garret Wolfe and Louden Haga to the Ironman this weekend. The rest of the Patriots will be competing at Barnesville.

We are a little more than a week away from Virginia Tech and West Virginia University going at it on Sunday, Dec. 18 inside Parkersburg’s Memorial Fieldhouse. The Big Reds will be in action on Friday and Saturday at the U.S. Air Force Indian Classic in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Locally, the Ritchie County duals get underway Friday evening and continue Saturday morning with the host Rebels, Wirt County, St. Marys, Doddridge County, Grafton, Buffalo, Notre Dame and Robert C. Byrd expected to compete.

The Garry Bender Raider Cup will get underway at 11 a.m. Saturday in Spencer. Roane County head coach Wayne Jarvis will have six teams getting five matches each in the round-robin format. Calhoun County was going to have its tournament this weekend, but that didn’t materialize.

“We’ll wrestle three mats. There are some pretty good teams involved in it. We think it’s going to be a good event,” said Jarvis, whose Raiders will compete against Calhoun County, Greenbrier West, Liberty (Harrison), Ravenswood and Lewis County.

“We’ll have a team champion and give individual medals to the individual weight class champions. This tournament is named after Garry Bender. It’s not a memorial. He’s alive and well.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com