Wirt County focused after interception barrage

Tigers had 10 picks vs. Paden City

ELIZABETH — Records might be made to be broken, but the Wirt County football team was just glad to get a win last Friday night at Paden City.

During the Tigers’ 40-8 triumph last week against the host Wildcats, head coach Jason Hickman’s team ended up snatching 10 interceptions.

Prior to that effort, the most picks by a team in Mountain State history during a game was nine. It happened when Farmington trounced Hundred, 88-0, back in 1970 and when Richwood topped Braxton County, 28-6, in 1975.

“We’ve put that one behind us and are focused on Gilmer,” admitted Tiger junior free safety Nathan Murray, who had five picks in the barrage, which tied an individual West Virginia state record.

Murray had the first interception against the Wildcats, which he returned nearly 50 yards for a touchdown.

“The quarterback was rolling and I was staring him down and he threw it right to my chest and I returned it for a touchdown,” said Murray, who was still upset about a play in the Tigers’ 8-6 loss the week before against Calhoun County.

“It was redemption is what that was. I dropped a Pick-6 at Calhoun so it was just redemption. At first I never thought I’d do this well or as a team to get 10 interceptions, but honestly after my fifth one all I wanted to get was more. It sounds petty.”

The last time a player in West Virginia had five interceptions was back in 1989 when Winfield’s Jared Turner pulled off the feat. Prior to that, Rivesville’s Chad Furgason (1983), Mullens’ Donnie Shumate (1982), Richwood’s David Young (1975) and Poca’s Lewis “Buzz” Craddock (1967) also recorded five intereceptions in a game.

“No. No way,” expressed coach Hickman when asked if he ever expected something like that to happen on the gridiron. “It was just one of those nights. I told our kids it was a team effort.”

Without question, Murray concurs with that statement.

“It’s nice getting all the recognition. It’s been great,” Murray stated.

“The reason we even got those things was because our D-line was pressuring their quarterback.”

Garrett Parsons’ lone interception also was returned for a score. Kolton Parsons had two of the picks while the orange and black also got one interception apiece from Dustin Richards and Ryan “Gator” Alton.

“Our defensive line put pressure on them and they were throwing the ball out of rhythm before they wanted to and that led to a lot of it,” continued Hickman, who also added “as far as we know that is accurate” when it came to kicker Shelby Simonton becoming the first girl to score a point in Wirt County history.

Simonton, the Tigers’ junior kicker, lined up for six extra point attempts and successfully converted the quartet she had an opportunity to boot through the uprights.

“We had two bad snaps and our holder had to roll out,” said the coach. “Our first string long snapper was dinged up and our snapper was 4 for 6, which wasn’t terrible.”

The Tigers return to action at 7 p.m. Friday when Gilmer County invades Wilson-Eismon Field. The Titans will be looking for their fifth victory in the past six years versus the orange and black.

“It’s going OK,” Hickman added of midweek preparations for the Titans of head coach Thomas Cogar.

“This feels like two-a-days in August with this heat. They are a good team. They are young, but talented and their quarterback (Ean Hamric) has impressed me with his arms and legs.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com