St. Marys’ rare chance
A great opportunity awaits St. Marys head coach Jodi Mote and his Blue Devils when they take the field against Wheeling Central in the W.Va. Class A state championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday inside Wheeling Island Stadium.
An elusive feat all but 43 other football squads in the 195 state championship games played in one, two and then three classes since Vinson and Alderson met for the Class B title back in 1948 presents itself to the fifth-seeded team from Pleasants County.
To accomplish this, you need luck, desire, passion, health, humbleness and a strong burning competitive fire.
What is this you ask?
Repeating as state champion.
“Just getting to the state title game is hard,” said Mote. “I know a lot of great staffs and teams that unfortunately weren’t able to make it. Just being able to make it one year is special and being able to go three years now and win it all is awesome. I personally don’t take any of this stuff for granted.”
As to the repeat, Mote stated making the most of a golden opportunity has been the goal from Day 1. The Blue Devils welcomed back a lot of talent across both lines and in the skill positions, after all.
Mote believes in staying healthy and humble, but another “H” word came into play this season — Hungry. Successful can breed complacency, which can lead to a loss in motivation or an unwillingness to not work as hard or harder than the previous season.
“I think that is the goal each week,” said Mote. “Trying to keep the kids on task and motivating your kids to what is ahead of them. I feel the kids have done a good job of staying motivated this season.”
Mandy Mote, Jodi’s wife, had a helping hand in keeping the boys’ eye on the prize throughout the year with the simple acronym ‘w2r.’ I will let Blue Devil O-lineman Jeremy Smith explain the meaning.
“It is just simple – you have to work at practice to repeat what we accomplished last year,” said Smith. “It is a goal to all of us.”
While the phrase helped to power the team all year, it took on a little different meaning after a 43-15 defeat against South Harrison on Oct. 20 inside Bill Hanlin Stadium.
“It came into play a lot more there,” said Smith. “Because we were like ‘We don’t want this to happen again, I don’t want to go home with the disappointment that I lost a game again.’ “
Words and phrases have a funny way of providing comfort and motivation. This was no different for the Blue Devils, who are 5-0 since the game against the Hawks including last week’s six-point win over No. 1 East Hardy setting up this chance.
Ironically, the team St. Marys matches up against on Saturday is the last one to achieve back-to-back state titles. Mike Young’s Maroon Knights won it all in 2010 and 2011.
Not only would a victory mean two straight titles, but the Blue Devils could grab a little more history if Martinsburg captures the Class AAA title earlier in the afternoon against Spring Valley.
A pair of repeating champs hasn’t happened since Martinsburg and Wayne each won in 2011 and 2012.
“It is definitely a tremendous opportunity, there is no doubt about it,” said Mote. “We just have to go out there and play ball and hope we bring our best game of the year with us.”