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Happy Holidays To All

WHEELING — It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And really, who can argue?

While I wish there was going to be some snow in the forecast, I love Christmas time.

I love shopping for family, especially my nieces and nephew and seeing their joy of that toy they can’t wait to play with or that dress she can’t wait to wear.

I love hanging out with my friends. Sure, I do that all year, but our annual Christmas party is one of my favorite days of the year.

These are things that are most important to me. More important than work. More important than sports. And in this day and age, keeping things in that kind of perspective can be rare.

I don’t like to make a Christmas list for my family or friends to get me anything. I am a pretty humble guy, I find more enjoyment in the happiness of others.

For those of you who read my columns, I thank you. Whether you agree with me on certain subjects or not, I am glad that you at least take the time to hear my point of view.

I have tried to make this the best sports section it can possibly be. I feel along with my staff, and our friends at the Herald Star and Times Leader, we accomplish that goal. Bubba Kapral is the best boss anyone could ask for.

We try to balance as many teams and sports as possible, while having a nice mix of game coverage and features. We can’t be everywhere and that makes it hard.

I feel our sports department is heading toward drastic changes in 2019, and I hope we are able to keep up the same valuable coverage of our area athletes that we are used to.

But before we turn the page to 2019 — didn’t it just turn 2018? — take today and appreciate your loved ones.

Take it from me, things aren’t always perfect in any family, but they are still your family and they love you.

So Happy Holidays to everyone in the Ohio Valley!!

P.S. I know I said I don’t have a Christmas list, but if anyone is looking for a last minute gift for me and has an extra ticket to Saturday’s Cotton Bowl …

Slideshows

For those of you that haven’t noticed, we are adding a new feature to our website this season.

We take tons of photos at every game we cover — and we even get a few good ones. Instead of using just one to go along with the story, we are now posting the rest on our website. And not just basketball. We will be posting pictures of all of our winter sports.

I, for one, am a big fan of taking photos. So many times I come away with one I really like and it never sees the light of day.

Not anymore.

If you are at a game and you see me standing along the endline, please go to our website (www.theintelligencer.net) and check out the photos. Maybe I have a solid picture of your son or daughter.

Now if I can just get those referees out of my way (haha, just kidding fellas!).

Congratulations Are in Order

One of the great things about this time of the year are naming our annual All-Valley teams, as well as the football awards given throughout the state.

So congratulations are in order to all those athletes that we selected to our All-Valley teams, as well as those who were able to make all-state teams.

A special congrats go out to Adam Murray, the Wheeling Central standout linebacker that was again selected as the winner of the Huff Award. His trophy case is already getting pretty full and this may be just the beginning for him. I promise I will try to have a better speech for you at the Victory Awards Dinner than I did last year.

And as you see in today’s special addition, a big congrats to St. Clairsville’s Brett McLean on being named our Coach of the Year, as well as to John Marshall basketball standout Shay Straughn for joining her father and brother in the 1,000-point club.

College Football Playoff

Another reason this is my favorite time of the year is college football. And for the first time since the inception of the College Football Playoff, my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish are taking part in the festivities.

Because of this, I have been watching and reading a lot on Saturday’s Cotton Bowl and one thing has really stuck out to me — I have yet to see one person pick Notre Dame to win this game. Oklahama, either, for that matter.

It is a little strange because even though Clemson and Alabama are incredible teams, they aren’t unbeatable.

I have been watching sports for a long time. Things rarely go as you think they will. That is one of the beauties of sports. So while I haven’t heard anyone say Clemson will blow Notre Dame out, I also haven’t heard anyone say Notre Dame will win. Kind of odd when the Fighting Irish went 12-0, rarely trailed, and have no real weakness.

So I will put my reputation at stake. Maybe this is a homer pick, maybe this is because I think Brian Kelly’s squad has the horses to pull off this upset.

You heard it hear first: Notre Dame 34, Clemson 28. (I am still going Alabama, 52-24. Sooners defense won’t be able to stop Bama offense and Crimson Tide defense will be on a mission to make up for Kyler Murray winning the Heisman instead of Tua Tagovailoa).

Josh Strope can be reached jstrope@theintelligencer.net

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