Don’t count out the ‘Jackets

Wheeling Central’s dominant 31-14 win over Linsly Saturday set the Maroon Knights apart from the rest of the Class A field. Mike Young’s team handled a Keydets’ squad, which pushed Class AAA’s Morgantown to the limit in a 31-28 overtime loss, with relative ease.

It was the type of win my colleague Shawn Rine, at the Wheeling Intelligencer, wrote effectively ended any championship debate in the Mountain State’s smallest division.

Huh? Really Shawn? The wrapping paper and bow already adorn the trophy ready to be presented to the Knights at the end of the season?

One team in Wood County unbelieving everything is said and done in Class A comes to mind after brief contemplation.

Oh? You thought the currently eighth-ranked in the WVSSAC ratings Williamstown team the Knights beat 33-0 at the beginning of the season was the end game?

No…no…no.

Such a group no longer exists.

The young Yellowjackets’ squad missing tackles, struggling to find an offensive identity appearing against Central sincehas been replaced with a hit-you-in-the-mouth, gang-tackling, opportunistic defense with a ball-hawking secondary and a balanced offensive attack during a five-game winning streak.

A more accurate representation of the group on track for a no-doubt-about-it playoff qualification one year after squeaking in at No. 16.

An athletic bunch responsible for writing the next chapters in the history of the storied program. Though not big, a group showing heart and tenacity in practice and on the field week in and week out to assure their pages are celebrated in the annals of the school.

One showing flashes even in defeat to Central. Williamstown missed several big-play scoring opportunities in the first half, which if successful leads to a different chain of events unfolding later in the contest. The ‘Jackets’ defense also got pressure on quarterback Curtis McGhee III several times, but the aforementioned missed tackles largely overshadowed the penetration.

Defensive pressure continuing through the following weeks into tonight’s matchup against Tyler Consolidated. The offense also found its footing with weapons in the running and passing attack. Donathan Taylor proving too much for most teams to handle at running back. While quarterback Carter Haynes continues his improvement as a true dual-threat QB with multiple targets at his disposable in Eric Brown and Mason Deem.

I am not saying victory comes today. Turnovers and too many penalties, including five motion fouls vs. the Knights, haunt Smith’s dreams (he consistently speaks of the flags in interviews) but a first- or second-round playoff meeting doesn’t appear likely. Meaning plenty of time remains for corrections before a second meeting between the schools.

Opportunities certainly on the horizon with currently undefeated No. 7 Parkersburg Catholic and No. 5 Doddridge County still on the schedule. Each eager for a huge boost of confidence a win over the powerhouse provides to playoff momentum.

Confidence easily taken by Williamstown, who can jump up the playoff ratings, after its possible victory.

Long story short, if I have learned anything when it comes to sports while living in the Mid-Ohio Valley most of my life it is this: You never, ever count out a Terry Smith-led team.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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