Super Six Experience Is One To Cherish

WHEELING – Point Pleasant is the only newcomer among the schools participating in this weekend’s West Virginia Super Six State High School Football Championships.

Along that line, Wheeling Central football coach Mike Young, a veteran of the event, having guided his team to four state championships in Wheeling, had a message for Point coach Dave Darst during Thursday night’s Super Six Kickoff Dinner at the McLure House Hotel.

”Once you make it,” Young said, ” it’s not over. They expect you to make it every year.”

Williamstown athletics director Jeff Givens seconded that notion.

”You make it here three, four years in a row, then you miss it for a year, it’s a void,” said Givens’ whose football program is making its sixth appearance in Wheeling, including four in a row from 2005-2008.

Darst tried to temper those expectations, given that Point Pleasant has been playing football since 1925 and this is its first appearance in a state final.

”It’s a tremendous task for us to get where we are,” said Darst, adding that the Big Blacks’ 13-0 record is easily the best in school history, better than the 11-1 team he played on at the school as a senior when it lost to St. Albans in the state semifinal while a member of the Class AAA ranks.

”If you live in our town,” he added, ”you’ll understand how important it is.”

It’s just as important in Martinsburg, where the unbeaten Bulldogs are back for a second straight season. They’re attempting to send quarterback Brandon Ashenfelder out on a 27-game winning streak.

But, as Martinsburg Principal Regina Phillips noted, this is far more than a one-person team, quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt to help prove the point.

”People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about,” she said.

Meanwhile, George Washington AD Shawn Wheeler pointed to the wave of success his teams have been riding this school year already – the Patriots finished third in golf, made it to the semifinals in volleyball, and won a boys’ soccer title – and hoped it keeps going.

”The Patriot Pride has been alive and well this year,” he said.

And, as has become customary, Gary Ray, the West Virginia Secondary School’s Activities Commission executive secretary, praised the Wheeling Super Six committee for continuing to keep its eyes on the proper target.

”Point Pleasant, with this being your first time here, your kids are going to have a great experience,” he said. ”Win or lose, the people of Wheeling know how to treat kids.”

The honorary captains for the games were also announced: In Class AA, it will be the late Allan Kloss, an Ohio Valley football official; In Class AAA, it will be Bill Hanlin, a former executive secretary of the SSAC; and in Class AAA, it will be Claire DeMerritt from the Ohio County Board of Education.

That Class AA state title game, featuring Point Pleasant and Wayne, will be played at 7:30 tonight at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Academic Achievement Banquet is set for 10 a.m. Saturday. The Class AAA game, featuring George Washington and Martinsburg, will be played at noon, and the Class A title game, with Wheeling Central and Williamstown, will kick off at 7:30 p.m.