2018 W.Va. CLASS A FOOTBALL ALL-STATE: MOV is well represented
Doddridge and Williamstown see highest number of selections
WHEELING — Williamstown and Wheeling Central ended the year as they started it …. Together. Fifteen weeks after the first matchup in Williamstown (a 33-0 Central victory), the possible rubber match took place Saturday inside Wheeling Island Stadium with a state title on the line.
While Wheeling Central walked away with the trophy, Mike Young’s Maroon Knights and Terry Smith’s Yellowjackets also finished the season with the most honorees on the Class A All-State first team as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
The two Class A powerhouses combined for 10 of the 30 available spots.
Last year’s Huff Award winner Adam Murray, the best defensive player in the state, proved worthy of his title again this season.
Murray, the captain of the point-stopping unit, recorded 172 tackles, including more than 35 behind the line of scrimmage.
Yellowjacket linebacker Eric Brown joined the Knight in the second level of the defense. Brown proved indispensable on the defensive side of the ball as the team leader in tackles (134), first in solo stops (83), and third in tackles behind the line (seven) along with five caused fumbles, four interceptions, two sacks, and seven pass breakups.
The talk of the state for most of the year was Doddridge County junior Hunter America, who captains the offense of this season’s squad. He rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 40 scores and is joined by Ritchea and Fayetteville’s Jordan Dempsey as the first-team running backs.
Cameron’s offense was centered around senior running back Andrew Ritchea. The Dragons earned a home game in the first round of the playoffs for a third consecutive season, thanks in no small part to Ritchea who had 173 carries, 2,049 yards and 32 touchdowns.
The first-team quarterback is Murray’s teammate Curtis McGhee III, who accumulated 3,199 total yards and accounted for 44 total touchdowns. McGhee was 132 of 201 for 2,357 yards and 33 touchdowns against three interceptions, while also running for 842 yards and 11 scores. This is despite missing three games because of injury.
One of the Central lead blockers senior offensive lineman Luke Duplaga who helped pave the way for an offense that amassed 5,385 yards this season joins Williamstown center Skylar Blatt in the trenches. Blatt blocked for 1,400-yard rusher Donathan Taylor as well as utility selection Carter Haynes, who surpassed 1,000 yards through the air and on the ground with a combined 27 touchdowns as the Yellowjackets’ signal-caller.
Central’s Bray Price made the team as a utility player, and that suits him perfectly. Whether running the football (93 carries, 669 yards, nine TDs) or catching it (56 catches, 863 yards, 13 touchdowns), Price was the most electrifying player on the field each time he stepped onto one. That doesn’t even account for the damage he did in the return game or defensively, where he returned interceptions for touchdowns from 100-plus yards in back-to-back weeks.
Somehow defensive end Vinny Mangino gets lost in the shuffle, but he’s become a four-time, first-team all-stater — twice at Bishop Donahue and now two times at Wheeling Central. Mangino had 62 tackles, five fumble recoveries and three sacks heading into the state title game, where he recorded an interception on the final play of his high school career.
The final Maroon Knights honoree senior hybrid linebacker-defensive back Anthony Robbins recorded 75 tackles, six interceptions, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Oh, and offensively Robbins caught 43 passes for 926 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Williamstown kicker Boston Caruthers joined his teammates on the first offensive unit. Caruthers set a state-playoff record for field goals made with three in a victory over third-seeded Mount View in the second round of the playoffs.
Magnolia senior Sebastian Stickler was a big-play receiver for Coach Dave Chapman’s quarterfinal-qualifying club. Stickler hauled in 70 passes for 855 yards and 10 scores to earn first-team receiver honors along with Pendleton County senior Timothy Thorne.
Teammates joining Stickler on the top squad were defensive lineman Mike Hamrick and defensive utility selection Pat Mirandy. Hamrick had 43 total tackles to go with nine for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Mirandy was assigned the other team’s top receiver on a weekly basis and did a little bit of everything. He had 2,257 yards of total offense in addition to kicking 30 PATs and a pair of field goals.
Tyler Consolidated utility man Mark Rucker becomes a two-time honoree. Still just a junior, Rucker ran for 1,503 yards and hauled in 546 yards of passes on 43 receptions. He scored a total of 190 points — 30 touchdowns, five 2-point conversions.
Up front along with Duplaga and Blatt, are Doddridge County’s Cole James, Midland Trail’s Trevor Harrell, Sherman’s Layne Daniel. All but James (junior) are seniors.
Midland Trail’s Hunter Jones and Mount View’s Ty Powell round out the defensive line along with Mangino and Hamrick. Elijah Barner (Mount View), Luke Jackson (Ravenswood) and Cole Rapp (Tucker County) join Murray at the linebacker position. Jackson became the Red Devils’ all-time leading tackler during the final game of the season versus rival Ripley.
The defensive backs are Sherman’s J.T. Hensley, Doddridge County’s Griffin Devericks and Summers County’s Christian Pack. Doddridge County’s Tanner Lett, who constantly flipped field position for his team, is the first-team punter.
Leading the second team units were a pair of Little Kanawha Conference players in Parkersburg Catholic running back Ty Sturm and Williamstown’s defensive lineman Ryan Brown. Sturm provided one part of the Crusaders’ hard-hitting running game alongside Jeb Boice. The Catholic senior pounded his way to 2,003 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 193 attempts with just two fumbles.
Brown, meanwhile, finished second on the Yellowjackets in tackles with 95, including 65 solo and 17 for a loss with five sacks.