Rine: Family Foundation At Madonna

WHEELING – The task of getting Ross Comis to the ground now lies with college coaches everywhere. To find the secret you don’t have to look far because it lies within his family.

Moments after the Madonna senior and his teammates had captured a West Virginia Class A state football championship Saturday night, Comis was planted on his back by none other than his brother, Louie, who was a standout linebacker on the Blue Dons’ last title-winning team four years ago.

”It was such an awesome experience and he has helped me with everything,” Ross was saying in what must have felt like a blur of a victory celebration. ”He’s a great brother.”

That dinner table at Christmas should be fun, now that Ross forever holds a 2-1 advantage on his older brother in terms of championship rings. Remember, Ross Comis was the starting safety as a freshman during Louie’s senior season.

I remember someone – wish I could remember who – telling me the night Madonna won that 2009 crown that Ross would end up being even better than Louie. Laughter and eye-rolling ensued on my part, but nobody is laughing now. Ross Comis accounted for 252 yards of total offense – 129 rushing, 123 passing – and three touchdowns, and was responsible for three more touchdowns, giving him 57 on the season.

To put it another way, in two Super Six appearances, the younger Comis registered nine touchdowns and did not turn the ball over once.

”He’s an unbelievable athlete and he’s my best friend. I love playing with him,” Blue Dons lineman Josh Martin said. ”I don’t know how he does it, but I am not asking any questions.”

The neat thing about the celebration is it was all about family. Just ask Martin, who at 7-foot, 290 pounds, is the biggest and perhaps the baddest of the bunch. When you shake his hand, it’s not a bad idea to ask for yours back.

”They mean everything to me,” Martin said. ”They’re all like brothers. I’m as close to them as I am my real family.

”We had a thing (Friday) night at one of the senior’s houses and we went around and everyone was talking. It was just amazing.”

Family, as anyone will attest, isn’t afraid to speak up to one another. That’s why at halftime the team’s receivers made sure to let Ross know they were finding separation from Greenrbier West defensive backs during his first-half scrambles.

”Ross is a great quarterback,” said Will Bowser, a senior receiver who caught a pair of touchdown passes in the second half. ”He put a perfect ball out there for me and the credit goes to him.”

The loss to Wahama in last season’s state title contest burned in bellies for a year. There was the general thought that Madonna had what it would take to make it back to Wheeling Island Stadium for another run, but with such sentiment comes unenviable expectations.

All the preparation, blood and sweat was put forth with the idea of not walking off the Wheeling Island Stadium turf a loser again.

”Last year it was tough, but we knew we had another opportunity and we knew it was going to be hard to get back,” Comis said. ”We knew there was no more chances. This is it. If we lose it’s over, and we’re going to have to live with that for the rest of our lives.”

Instead, this group of Blue Dons will live forever as champions and, probably more importantly, as family. Nobody will ever be able to take either of those two things away.

”Just to be able to see those kids, to come here last year and suffer that tough, one-point loss in overtime … to be able to refocus and get back on track, go undefeated, get to the state finals and be able to take it home is very special to me,” Coach Doug Taylor said.

”We were just tickled pink for the kids.”

Shawn Rine can be reached via email at srine@theintelligencer.net