ALBRIGHT: Lance Binegar takes over as the Williamstown football coach? 

This column may be a little late, but here are 13 possibile happenings for the Mid-Ohio Valley sports world in 2020. Will they be wrong or will they be right, who knows? This is the joy in making predictions:

1. Lance Binegar assumes command of the Williamstown football machine.

Yellowjacket fever biting Parkersburg Catholic continues into the foreseeable future. Binegar’s team building and successful turnaround as Crusader head man doesn’t go ignored in Class A’s highest profile coaching search. The promising young coach keeps the Yellowjacket train churning hard down the winning tracks.

2. Braxton Amos repeats as the Robert Dutton Award winner.

No one in the state can now match the accumulated resume of Parkersburg South’s 195-pound wrestler. His third Ironman and Powerade championships as well as another state championship, sits him in the driver’s seat. The fact no one offensively scores on him the entire season, in-state or out-of-state, sends him over the top with voters.

3. Doddridge County’s Jonna Ferrell and Williamstown’s Lilly McMullen duke it out for state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 in Class A.

Ferrell, the state record-holder in the 200- and 400-meter dash, returns to full health for her senior season. This coincides with McMullen building on her 2019 success.

The end result equals a state tournament to remember with plenty of warm-up clashes in the regular season.

4. Parkersburg South wrestling receives Shaun Smith’s finest coaching job on way to sixth title.

Going into this season, the Patriots replaced most of their starting lineup. The freshmen come through as the seniors meet their lofty expectations, as well, in Huntington for title number six.

5. Warren football advances to the Ohio playoffs.

Matt Kimes and the Warriors’ first winning season since 2013 pays dividends in 2020. Blessed by the return of school record-setting quarterback Kurt Taylor and his top target Evan Gandee, Warren’s offense keeps clicking. The defense finds itself and the Warriors advance to the postseason.

6. Fort Frye’s era of success doesn’t miss a beat.

Eric Huck and company losing a great senior class hurts, a lot. Fortunately, reinforcements are immediate for the Cadets. The incoming freshmen class didn’t lose a game in middle school, and they will adapt quickly to Huck’s scheme. Fort’s upperclassmen see the talent and push just enough to ensure the playoff run isn’t over.

7. Aleea Crites and Bre Wilson are named to Class AAA all-state first team.

For Wilson, this is a long time coming. On the other hand, Crites has emerged as the do-it-all player for Scott Cozzens in the 2019-20 season. She scores, defends, blocks, rebounds and forces the issue around the rim. Both make the top honor team helping to fulfill prediction No. 10.

8. Gilmer County girls’ basketball will be state-tournament bound.

Amy Chapman’s Titans return to the scene of their famous 2016 title-game upset of Huntington St. Joe. Taylor McHenry, Malaysia Morgan and Carrah Ferguson bring Gilmer to within a game of playing for another title. Standing in their way will be the Irish, and St. Joe will move on to the title game.

9. PHS and South football will meet in the first postseason “Crosstown Showdown.”

Mike Byus and Nate Tanner run the streak of both the city’s Class AAA teams making the playoffs to three.

Only this year, something interesting happens in the second round. The Big Reds and Patriots meet at the Erickson All-Sports Facility. And the clash over a spot in the state semifinals has never felt so intense.

10. Parkersburg High’s girls basketball team finishes off the program’s second three-peat.

The Big Reds’ brutal schedule prepares them well for the rigors of March basketball in the Civic Center. Greenbrier East doesn’t fall to University in the semifinals, and PHS beats the Spartans, 76-65. Fans watch as Bre Wilson and Aleea Crites combine to lead the team to a victory.

11. Marietta College men’s basketball runs to the Final Four.

John VanderWal’s team being ranked sixth in the country signals more good news later in the season.

The backbone is certainly there in Tim Kreeger, Jason Ellis and Lukas Isaly. One of the biggest questions is how they will respond in March and April. Each will have answered the question long before the selection. The OAC provides plenty of nightly tests for each.

12. Parkersburg High girls’ swimming sweats out another title run.

At this point, it is tradition; the PHS girls have to play the waiting and stress game in the last event of the meet to be crowned champions. Breaking the trend won’t happen this year as Bridgeport and George Washington girls are on the Big Reds’ tails. Emily Martin’s group will enter the 400 Freestyle Relay two points behind Bridgeport for the title. Grace Cox and Jaden Welsh will then swim the final two legs of the race. They will set a new state record, win the race, and Cox will go out a three-time state champion.

13. No one touches the Williamstown girls’ track and field team at the state tournament.

Oh sure, individual races might be close. The race for the team title though, as Doddridge County coach Craig Kellar and I discussed the other night, is “Williamstown and everybody else.” Does this take the excitement out of the Class A track and field season? Sure does. But, it can hardly be avoided with the talent the Yellowjackets bring back in 2020.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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