Wheeling Central Shuts Out Williamstown

McGhee throws for 137, rushes for 127

Photo by Joe Albright Wheeling Central quarterback Curtis McGhee III carries the ball during Thursday’s game against Williamstown.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Coming off a state championship, Wheeling Central coach Mike Young knows the perception around West Virginia is that the Maroon Knights are the team to beat.

Thursday’s opening game against Williamstown did nothing to quell that notion.

The Maroon Knights saw a balanced offensive attack, the defense pitched a shutout — even the special teams got involved with a key blocked punt. The end result: a 33-0 thumping of the Yellowjackets at Yellowjacket Field.

“I was pleased with Curt’s (McGhee III) balance of running and throwing, pleased with Bray’s (Price) leadership, Adam Murray’s tackling and defense. Payton Marling did an outstanding job,” Young said. “I don’t want to single out any one because it was an all-out team effort and I can’t say enough about the great job our coaches did in preparing our kids.

“The kids were focused, even though we had some distractions along the way. We are tabbed as being No. 1 and I hate that. That just makes that target bigger.”

It wasn’t all positive for Wheeling Central. Like any coach, Young points to the penalties and there were plenty to pick through. The Maroon Knights were flagged 12 times for 110 yards — two coming on roughing the punter penalties that kept Williamstown drives alive.

“We definitely have to correct those because they cost us good field position sometimes, especially on the punts,” Young said. “That was upsetting, but at the same time we didn’t panic.

“First-game jitters. We definitely had them with kids trying to do too much.”

Even that couldn’t derail what was a dominating performance by the Maroon Knights.

Bray Price put Wheeling Central on top 1:02 in the game, breaking a tackle an racing down the sideline for a 63-yard score.

Five plays after a blocked punt by Nick Sherman in Williamstown territory, Price scored on a Wildcat play from 5 yards out.

“They were slow in getting (punts) off and that was something we really haven’t practiced,” Young said. “Our kids were just really aggressive off the ball so we were able to get pressure. But the (roughing the kicker) penalties aren’t acceptable.”

In the second quarter, it was McGhee’s turn to get in on the fun.

A drive that started on the Wheeling Central 10, ended three plays later with McGhee going 62 yards to put the Maroon Knights up 20-0.

Williamstown fumbled on its opening drive of the second half at its 36 and Wheeling Central made it pay.

McGhee scored two plays later from 34 yards away, breaking through the middle on a quarterback draw and beating a host of defenders to the pylon.

A McGhee to Price 21-yard touchdown strike in the fourth concluded the scoring, more than enough for the Maroon Knights defense.

Williamstown managed 161 yards of total offense. Even when the Yellowjackets managed to put together a drive, they too were also victimized by penalties, including two intentional grounding calls that pushed them into punting situations.

Williamstown had a 17-play, 48-yard drive in the third quarter that chewed up nearly eight minutes of clock. The Yellowjackets marched to the Wheeling Central 8, only for quarterback Carter Haynes to be intercepted by the Maroon Knights’ Jalen Creighton.

“I was really disappointed, and I don’t know if we could ever beat that team, but we had five motion penalties that really hurt us,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. “Those are drive killers right away and (Wheeling Central) doesn’t need any help.

“They beat us off the ball and we didn’t move anybody. We couldn’t run the ball. The way they were on our quarterback I expected us to put the ball on the ground a lot more than we did (once). Our center goes down and we don’t have much depth, but I don’t think anyone feels sorry for us.”

McGhee had a stellar game for the Maroon Knights, rushing for 127 yards and two scores, while throwing for 137 and a touchdown on 9 of 16 passing.

Wheeling Central is back in action Thursday for the home opener against Madonna. Williamstown travels to Magnolia next Friday.

“You make your biggest improvements from your first and second game,” Young said. “If you are not making improvements from the first game, you are not going to have a real focused practice. We coach our kids to make good choices out there. We had too many penalties and that will need to be cleaned up before Madonna.”