ALBRIGHT: Young Yellowjackets grew up

If Terry Smith’s annual review of his Williamstown football team isn’t a positive one, something is wrong. Every year, Smith sits down and asks if his team got better and it did.

Pay no mind to Wheeling Central’s second handling of the Yellowjackets in 2018. Creating ideal competitive conditions with a team featuring four returning starters on each side of the ball depending on youth against a veteran Central squad proving a tall assignment.

A fact not helped when as many as six Maroon Knights honored on the Class A all-state first team appears a distinct possibility.

Williamstown advancing to Wheeling is proving success enough. This group maybe the most inexperienced of the Yellowjackets’ state finals qualifiers now I think on it.

But now they have the experience for dispersion among incoming new teammates.

Excellence radiates from Smith and his staff but sometimes you run into a better team.

One they witnessed at the beginning of a growing journey.

Disaster-striking results on opening night possibly derailing the Yellowjackets’ path to The Island after a 33-0 loss to Central. Shattering the psyche of the younger players.

A “whats-the-use” mindset permeating the locker room hindering growing opportunities after the setback.

An outcome erased from reality thanks to the program’s senior-class leadership. Experienced and battled-hardened words from the ‘Jackets’ six final-year players flooded the thoughts of the freshman, sophomores and juniors instead of negativity. Motivations for consistent improvement consuming all thoughts on the practice field.

And improve the youth did.

Everyone growing comfortable in their assigned roles while rooted on by an encouraging fan base.

Everything assembling during a 56-8 state semifinal road lambasting of No. 2 Midland Trail.

Names like Leewood Molessa, Brady “The Tank” Ankrom and Josh Ingram in the trenches, as well as Eric Brown, Kole Sutton, Jarrett Frazier, and Logan Richards regularly contributing through every game according to Willamstown public address annoncer Matt Minton and radio personalities Dave Hall, Roger Lockhart and Dave Poe.

Names returning for a likely rematch with Central in 2019. Donathan Taylor, Nick Bondi and Mason Deem joining their teammates in a dynasty-toppling attempt. Back-to-back-to back titles remains a distinct and almost certain reality for the Knights. Offensive leader Curtis McGhee III and defensive leader Adam Murray demand nothing but A-plus efforts from their teammates.

All pieces aiding in losing those seniors. Helping create a possible dynasty of their own starting in 2020.

Wheeling Central’s middle school program did not field a group this season for those curious. Transfer additions remain a possibility, but they may need a few years to establish themselves.

Wood Countians all know Williamstown certainly fielded middle school athletes hungry for a share of the responsibility in the high school’s third title. Benefitting from players learning more following a second straight appearance inside Wheeling Island Stadium.

While the title loss hurts now, the ‘Jackets and their leader can’t look at anything about this season as a negative. It simply isn’t true.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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