MORGANTOWN - Morgantown coach John Bowers is tired. Tired of coming up just short of a state title, and tired of that happening on an opponent's field.
Since 2006, the Mohigans have lost in the state semifinals four times, tantalizingly denying Bowers, a Brooke graduate, the dream of returning to the Ohio Valley and winning a state title in front of friends and family.
Just maybe this is the club that will get him over the hump.
"To a lot of people getting to the semis is great. I want Wheeling,'' Bowers said. ''You can't consider 10-3 a disappointment, but I love the valley.''
In an effort to get home, Bowers and company will rely on a big, mobile and talented offensive line that at least on paper, has the opportunity to be the best the school has fielded.
It starts at the tackles with Amanii Brown (6-foot-6, 271 pounds), who the coach would like to see get a bit more angry, and D.J. Summers (6-1, 275). They'll be backed by junior Matt Grimes (5-10, 180), senior Alex Dalton (6-2, 225) and Evan Greene, a 6-2, 284-pound monster Bowers says is one of the strongest kids he's coached and can "squat whatever you put on the bar.'' Dakota Shaffer (5-11, 258), a junior, could also see time.
Senior Jamie Guynn is the starter at left guard and will see support from classmate Hunter Coker and junior Dylan Anderson (6-3, 200). At right guard figures to be 6-3, 268-pound senior Andre Collins, with relief in the form of junior Sean Berry (6-1, 210).
The man calling protections at center is senior Zach Mayle (6-2, 271), backed by Brown and Mitchell Powers.
"This very well could be the biggest team we've had on the line,'' Bowers said. "They're big, strong, athletic kids that run well and play pretty angry ... finish blocks and try to bury you.
"We've had a couple guys just ripping people. I like the problem of having to pull them back."
Stone Wolfley, a junior specimen at 6-3, 265 that is already committed to West Virginia and is ranked No. 9 in the country at his position, is the tight end. He will get top support from 6-5, 330-pound junior C.J. Williams who has never played a down of football, but caught the attention of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco at a lineman challenge in South Bend this summer.
Sophomore Jacob Workman and junior Bailey Kane (5-10, 172) are fighting for playing time.
That large group will be blocking for Kennedy Award candidate Chazzy Thomas, a 5-9, 178-pound running back that rushed for 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns in eight games before an injury derailed not only his season, but perhaps the Mohigans' as well.
"He ran a 4.5 (40-yard dash) at the VMI camp, so he's very, very healed,'' Bowers said.
Thomas will receive support from senior Mack Lawrence, juniors Tristan Walker (5-10, 165) and Dion Tolliver (5-7, 160), as well as sophomores DaShon Thomas and Logan Wotring.
Leading the way from his fullback position is senior Bryce Wharry (6-2, 211), who moves over from guard out of necessity. Spelling Wharry will be senior Logan Compton (6-0, 200) and junior Ross Weidman (5-10, 190).
Morgantown has to find a replacement for graduated quarterback Mark Johnson. Bowers believes he has just the guy in junior Ethan Goldcamp (6-3, 175). Senior Will Rockis (6-3, 182) could see some time in a Wildcat package, while sophomore Zane Hearn is the top understudy.
Catching passes from Goldcamp will be seniors Matt McMillen, Garrett Cain (5-11, 151), Sean Watson (6-0, 162), T.J. Haws (5-9, 150) and Alex Anderson.
Defensively, some combination of Wolfley, Brown, Collins, Dalton and Berry are at the ends. The down linemen are King, Greene, Collins, Summers, Grimes, Shaffer and senior Cody Maurin (5-9, 212).
The linebackers are again stout, led by lone returning strong-sider Logan Hatch, a 6-foot, 210-pounder. Also here is Weidman.
At middle linebacker will be Compton and Anderson, while at Indian (safety) are Rockis, junior Daniel McAllister, a South Charleston transfer, and Mikhail Lewis. The Will linebacker in the Morgantown defense is an end that drops into coverage, and that figures to be a combination of Wotring and DaShon Thomas.
Cornerback is "still a work in progress," but McMillen; Alex Anderson, Walker, Chazzy Thomas, Cody Shearer and Dustin Freeman seem capable.
Campbell and Cain are the free safeties.
Matt McMillen, Campbell, Alex Anderson and Tolliver will see time returning kicks. Senior Ruan Venter is the kicker and sophomore Evan Stire will punt.
"Obviously Martinsburg, who has won it three times in a row, is the favorite,'' Bowers said. "We just want a puncher's chance of getting to Wheeling.
Bowers is assisted by Tom Powers, Matt Lacy, Willie Edwards, Jason Kruger, Pat Mascaro, Anthony Giambrone, Jeff Pond, Steve Poland, Chris Arnell, Daniel Strosnider, Woody Taylor, Alby Eddy, Nate White, Mike Deem, Josh Proctor, Greg Dausch, Matt Kelly, Bill Hedrick, Andrew Swierkos, a Bishop Donahue product, and Matt Holonich.
Alex Andersen, Amanii Brown, Hunter Coker, Andre Collins, Logan Compton, Alex Dalton, Evan Greene, James Guynn, Logan Hatch, TJ Haws, Tyler Hilling, Mack Lawrence, Cody Maurin, Zach Mayle, Matt McMillen, Tony Orebaugh, Caden Postma, Will Rockis, DJ Summers, Chazzy Thomas, Ruan Venter, Sean Watson, Bryce Wharry.
Dylan Anderson, Sean Berry, Bruce Bonfili, Garrett Cain, Shea Campbell, Eric Commodore, Austin Fisher, Dakota Goff, Ethan Goldcamp, Matt Grimes, Nick Hall, John Johnson, Bailey Kane, CJ King, Saeed Kuzmar, Jared LaNeve, Mikhail Lewis, Daniel McAllister, Nico Muttillo, Brendan Rile, Dakota Shaffer, Dion Tolliver, Tristan Walker, Ross Weidman, Stone Wolfley.
Johnah Campbell, Taylor Davis, Dustin Freeman, Tristan Goss, Joey Gray, Brady Hatch, Zayne Hern, Ben Hodge, Davis Kimble, Tyler Kissling, Calvin McDaniel, Kyle Poland, Mitchell Powers, Troy Richards, Tyler Savage, Kody Shearer, Nathan Sims, Josh Stegmaier, Evan Stire, DaShon Thomas, Jonah Thomas, Michael Thornton, Ben Tolliver, Tim Velas, Nathaniel Williamson, Jacob Workman, Logan Wotring.