Football Picture Is Brightening At Beallsville

9 Bubba Kapral

BEALLSVILLE — Football wins have been a scarce commodity in recent years at Beallsville.

The Blue Devils’ grid program was on the verge of extinction two years ago, with no coach, no schedule and only a handful of grid hopefuls.

Enter Larry Deem. When no one else had the courage to lead the program, the ex-Marine took the reins in early August of 2015.

He quickly instilled his military background into his football team. The Blue Devils were schooled in toughness, commitment, passion and dedication while making no excuses.

The last two-plus seasons have been painstaking at times. But Deem’s leadership started reaping dividends Friday night.

Beallsville won its first football game in two seasons, blanking Hundred, 51-0.

“The win lifts a big weight off the shoulders of the coaches and players,” Deem said. “It was great to have the community there. They have been so supportive of our program and the school. It was nice to give back.

“I was very proud of how our players handled themselves. They were proud but humble. We have been on the other side like Hundred was. Our kids played and celebrated with class. It was also good to see our younger ones realize that they know what to do and can make plays. We had five different players score and our defense had four pick-sixes.”

Deem, age 44 and a former coal miner, sees Friday’s win as a catalyst for more success.

“The season has been real enjoyable. They players have bought into our system. They have come together as a team and are bonding well,” Deem said. “We started the season with 17 players and still have 17 healthy players.”

The Blue Devils having 17 players after three weeks is a victory in itself.

A year ago, Beallsville had several occasions when only 10 players were on the field during games.

The Blue Devils do have some challenging contests remaining such as Linsly, Cameron and Madonna. However, games with Conotton Valley, Hannan and Paden City all are contests the Blue Devils will enter with legitimate chances to prevail. Prior to the Hundred triumph, Beallsville’s last win came at Hannan in 2015.

Several factors point to a brighter Big Blue gridiron future.

The numbers should continue to grow with just two seniors on the roster and at least seven eighth graders expected to move into the varsity ranks in 2018.

Beallsville’s home field also sports a new state-of-the-art $55,000 video scoreboard. It was completely funded by the Beallsville Sportsmen’s Club.

The program will receive a huge boost next season when a desperately needed fieldhouse will be in the place. The nearly $1 million facility is coming to fruition thanks to oil & gas money.

“I hope the fieldhouse provides stability where people realize the school is going to be here and we don’t lose any other kids to surrounding districts,” Deem said. “We have come a long way in two years. The first year was tough, starting from scratch.

“Our schedule was a monster that first season, playing teams like Marion Local. But Delmas (Athletic Director Moore) has done a great job of cleaning up the schedule,” he added. “The win Friday night was great for all those associated with Beallsville. We are headed in the right direction.”

BUBBA’S BITS

∫ Ohio State football fans have to be in a state of denial after the Buckeyes stunk up the ‘Shoe in being dismantled by Oklahoma. The question is what is worse: OSU’s punchless offense or its defense that cannot stop a short passing game? Buckeye partisans can take solace in the fact the schedule is filled with cupcakes, starting this Saturday against Army, a team which doesn’t have a passing attack. Other than a trip to Iowa and a home test with Penn State, the Buckeyes will not be challenged until they travel to Ann Arbor.

∫ Kudos to the administrations at Magnolia and River High for having the good judgement to have the Blue Eagles and Pilots stage their rivalry game tonight. What would have been a solid turnout Friday night will be sharply spiked by playing 24 hours earlier and being the only prep game in the valley.

∫ We have heard several reports about the officiating inequities that Wheeling Central endured at East Hardy. The Baker-based school is notorious for having a lopsided home field advantage. The Maroon Knights went through that same scenario at East Hardy a few years back in a playoff loss while Harrison Central got a taste of it in this year’s opener.

∫ If WVU continues to win on a regular basis, look for quarterback Will Grier to gain Heisman Trophy support. The former Florida Gator has completed 50-of-78 passes for 723 yards and eight TDs in two games. He has been picked once.

∫ Wheeling Park product Elijah Bell is off to a sizzling start at North Carolina A&T this season. The sophomore wide receiver has landed 11 catches for five TDs in leading the Aggies to a 2-0 start.

∫ Berry College is off to a 2-0 start on the gridiron this season. Rich Duncan — a former Martins Ferry High and Bethany College grid standout — is the Georgia-based school’s offensive coordinator.

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