Yellowjackets’ Chris Beck enjoys solid first year at football helm

Williamstown goes 5-2, qualifies for playoffs

Photo by Neal Smith Williamstown’s Brayden Modesitt prepares himself for a confrontation with St. Marys’ linebacker Brennan Boron during the Yellowjackets’ 20-7 win over the Blue Devils. Modesitt is one of a number of seniors Chris Beck must replace as he moves into year 2 of his Williamstown head coaching tenure.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Following an influx of positive coronavirus cases in Wood County, the 2020 football season for the Williamstown Yellowjackets is over. The ‘Jackets were slated to host Tolsia in the first round of the Class A playoffs, but now their season ends at 5-2 as the No. 6 seed. Last week, head coach Chris Beck said his team’s biggest opponent was the map. It turns out he was correct, as Tolsia moved on to face East Hardy in the next round. Stellar line play on both sides of the ball and an ever-improving offense helped lead the team in key victories to help lock down a home playoff game. Although that game didn’t happen, Beck reflected on this season and what led up to the team getting the unfortunate news.

“We had a walkthrough on Saturday morning, and we talked about the possibility of what that would mean,” he said. “We knew what we were getting into, Saturday morning. When I found out, I had a few coaches over at my house, and our kids were playing having a playdate. I think as a coaching staff (cancellation) was in the back of our minds, but the guys really weren’t impacted. I thought we had a great week of practice, and we have a great group of senior leaders. They did everything they could do, so it was a normal week, in that regard.”

Now, eight seniors graduate having already played their final game at the high school level. Four of them helped anchor down the offensive line, as Leewood Molessa, Brady Ankrom, Josh Ingram and Nick Bower leave a void for the ‘Jackets going into 2021. Running back Trevor Oates had to learn how to play his current position, and thanks the contributions of the line, his stats were comparable to some of the leading rushers in the area.

“Trevor is a guy still learning to play tailback, and he got better every week,” Beck said of the junior. “I think he’ll be the first to tell you the guys upfront were pretty good. Three of those guys (Ankrom, Ingram and Molessa) started for three years. They did a really great job. Offensively, I was really pleased. The passing game progressed as the year went on (with Brayden Modesittt at quarterback). Defensively, we started a little slow, but as the year went on, I thought we got better and better. Our guys started to get more comfortable with what we were trying to do.”

Many of those first round playoff matchups weren’t played, and those that were saw results ranging from expected to entirely out of left field. Given Doddridge County’s elimination at the hands of the No. 14 East Hardy Cougars and St. Marys’ bye past three-time defending champion Wheeling Central Catholic, Beck believes his Yellowjackets could have gone on a run in spite of going into the postseason as a team that didn’t have a clear path to Wheeling. He says it’s a testament to how hard his team worked over the course of the abbreviated year.

“I think we were one of the top three or four teams in Class A. I think our schedule beared fruit to that,” he said. “We beat St. Marys, and they’re one of the top teams. We played Central, so we’re definitely one of the top three or four teams. We’re just in a situation where a map is going to determine a Single-A state champion.”

Beck went on to voice his frustration with the map and pointed out that Williamstown and Wheeling Central Catholic, two mainstays at the top of the class over the past 20 years, are both unable to compete. He said he hoped the first round could have been postponed until a later date. Nonetheless, he remembered the contributions of all his seniors and the impact they left on the program.

“They’re tremendous leaders and hard workers,” he said. “They have a strong work ethic, and these guys are going to be successful. That’s the biggest compliment I can give them. How they developed as people, they’re going to be good husbands and good fathers. That’s what we’re really here for, is to develop young men.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com


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