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Madonna’s Trophy Case Suddenly Stocked

November 30, 2012
By RICK THORP , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WEIRTON - When visitors enter the Madonna High School campus they're greeted by signs celebrating the athletic programs' state championships.

It's an area that's been growing in recent years.

Up until late 2009, Madonna only boasted one state championship - the one brought home by the 1987 football team. But during the last few years, Class A trophies have been returning to Hancock County in abundance.

The football team brought home a state crown in 2009. Then, that spring, the baseball team won the 2010 championship in Charleston.

That fall, Coach T.J. Brancazio's golf team earned a championship up at Oglebay. Then, in March of 2011, George Vargo guided the boys' basketball team to a championship at the Charleston Civic Center.

It certainly is a good time to be a Blue Don.

''It will be special if we can win it and if we can come home with that championship trophy,'' Madonna coach Doug Taylor said earlier this week during a break in practice.

The Blue Dons will battle Wahama for the state championship at 7 Saturday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Madonna is just below the median in Class A enrollment and is one of the smallest football-playing schools in the state. Despite that, it's been able to put together quite sports run the past few years that rivals anyone in the class.

''It is what it is,'' Taylor said. ''We're a small school, but the kids just work hard. They do everything we ask of them in the offseason.

''We had speed and agility sessions in the offseason and we had a great turnout for that. It really helped us.''

Going that extra mile is a key to success in any endeavor. And at Madonna, it's been a major factor in the school's athletic success.

Especially in football this year.

Madonna's run to the Super Six has had its share of tense moments. There was the loss to Wheeling Central in the rain-delayed game at Wheeling Island on Sept. 1, the 15-14 triumph at Bishop Donahue five weeks later, and the 21-20, come-from-behind victory at Steubenville Catholic in Week 9.

''We were down 20-7 in the fourth and a lot of people were leaving the game and not believing in us,'' Madonna quarterback Ross Comis recalled. ''But we came out and made a much-needed stop and scored, then made another stop and scored again with about 30 seconds left.

''I think that game really made us realize how good we could be''

The victory was the sixth in what has become an 11-game winning streak. All told, Madonna defeated six teams during the regular season that made the playoffs.

''You hate to say a loss is a good thing,'' Taylor said, referencing the Wheeling Central game. ''But the kids came into the locker room very business-like and knew they could play with anyone. They just didn't know how good they could be.

''The win over Steubvenville Catholic put us over the edge. We've been pretty good ever since.

''These kids can win the tight games. That's all part of growing as a football team.''

And with this season marking the 25th anniversary of Madonna's first state championship football team, a victory Saturday would be icing on the cake.

''With all the tradition we have we think we owe the people that helped lay the groundwork for that years ago,'' Taylor said.

''It would be really nice to win this in honor of them.''

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