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Albright: Undefeated Doddridge football doing it differently than 2019 group

They stood larger than much of the classification.

Hunter America, Cole James and the 2019 Doddridge County football team ruled the Class A roost.

The Bulldogs dominated everyone on the way to a 10-0 regular-season record. If they wanted to run for 400 yards in a game, they could.

Putting up 65 points? No problem.

Match them up with a dominant Williamstown program? They came out on top and in impressive style, no less.

Then graduations happened.

Departures and new faces in new places sapped the bullying ability. Bobby Burnside and company no longer shouted out a number and the offense no longer scored all those points. The line no longer pushed around everyone and America no longer posted ridiculous numbers. In many ways, that marked a rebuild.

The 2021 Bulldogs don’t own that scoring ability, either.

Yet, they’re getting the job done and are two wins from another undefeated season, thanks to a big reason – they thrive in the underdog role.

No, thrive doesn’t accurately get the point across. Burnside and his group feed off being doubted. Tell them they can’t be among the LKC competitors and well, that just bounces off of them. Imagine the Patriots hearing all the hype about the ‘Greatest Show on Turf,’ leading up to Super Bowl XXXVI. Pundits, sports editors, everyone said New England couldn’t beat the St. Louis Rams. But they did with an energy rarely seen. That’s the wattage of these Bulldogs … Electric. Exciting. Magnificent.

Choose any positive word you want, and it fits.

“They’ve brought it right from the beginning,” Burnside said. And they haven’t let up since.

Just ask the Ritchie County and Roane County football teams. Two groups that came into Cline Stansberry Stadium as strict favorites, showed nothing but a loss in the score column after the game. Heck, the Bulldogs have even attacked the games they are favored in with a zeal unmatched so far by any team in the Mid-Ohio Valley. No matter who the opponent, it just doesn’t matter.

The Raiders’ Skyler Delk breaking away on a 50-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 28-16? Hardly bothering. If anything, it just made the Bulldogs angrier. They scored the last 17 points of the game.

Ritchie County coming back from a 14-0 deficit? The Bulldogs just turn it up a notch. Well, and John Devinney kicks the game-winning field goal in double overtime for the win.

There’s no getting rid of the feeling. Someone always makes the big play that keeps the party right on going. Adam Burnside sacks Ritchie County quarterback Ethan Haught, Riley Curran and company gang tackle Roane County’s Briar Begler, running back Dylan Knight slams into his offensive line and bursts out the other side legs churning, never stopping. It is never ending.

Try as teams might, you can’t keep these Bulldogs down. Next up, it will be Williamstown’s opportunity at trying to put hurt on the group. Good luck.

According to their head coach, his group still has plenty to work on.

“We haven’t arrived yet. We are still trying to get better and have a long way to go. We have to keep embracing that underdog mentality every week, acting like we have something to prove,” Burnside said.

Chances are good that will happen.

Why?

These underdogs pack a hard chomp.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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