Oak Glen’s Season Comes To Abrupt End
NEW MANCHESTER — A football season full of anxiety and turmoil abruptly ended the only way it could for West Virginia teams Saturday night, especially for Oak Glen.
Following the release of the latest COVID map, the WVSSAC decided to cancel the Super Six and award championships to teams based off of the colors and latest games played.
The greatest two-year run in Oak Glen history ends without a Class AA trophy. Instead, it concludes with numerous questions, including, “What if?”
“There is no pandemic handbook. I think the COVID map may have been a good try to start to figure things out at the beginning. But, I feel real strong that you have to make adjustments sometimes,” Oak Glen head coach Ted Arneault said. “Good intentions for people’s safety may have resulted in uncertainty and hardship on sports teams and schools to go about their daily business without the constant anxiety of the rug being pulled from under them.
“I really wish that the powers that be could’ve maybe foreseen this situation based on how the season had gone and made adjustments. I really hope that they’ve learned from their mistakes for winter and spring sports so that teams are never put in this position again.”
The Golden Bears and Hancock County did all they could to face Robert C. Byrd on Sunday.
They were orange on last week’s COVID map, and all indications pointed to staying there or moving to red with numbers spiking.
However, numbers slowly dipped between Monday and Thursday. On Friday, the numbers dropped by a full percent. Come Saturday, Hancock County was gold.
“Everybody showed up in droves to test,” Arneault said. “It looks like our numbers are going down. I guess we just spiked at the wrong time. It just goes to show how many people showed up for the tests. It looked like everything was going to work out on our end.”
Everything was working out for Oak Glen until Robert C. Byrd changed to orange. Originally, even though the Bears went down, the rules stated that they could not advance and the Flying Eagles would because the contest already was delayed.
The WVSSAC held an emergency meeting Saturday night and decided to cancel the rest of the season altogether. Fairmont Senior was awarded the Class AA championship.
“If you flip it the other way, I would never want to take games away from other kids or teams. It’s not their fault,” Arneault said. “This is certainly not Fairmont Senior’s fault. If it was us (with the trophy), I’m sure they’d be saying the same thing and feel the same type of frustration. We’re all going to have to accept this as (the WVSSAC’s) decision.”
Fairmont Senior at least played. It defeated Bluefield in the semifinals on Saturday, 21-19.
In the other classes, St. Mary’s is the champion in A and South Charleston in AAA.
“I think Ohio had a great plan. Also, Pennsylvania was able to finish its season. All of the states around us have successfully been able to finish their seasons,” Arneault said. “I guess I was really hoping we could look at the states around us and maybe model what was successful and unsuccessful for them.
“But, I guess we’re married to the map. They stuck to their guns all the way until the end. They were even willing to cancel the Super Six as a result of it. It was a year of turmoil and anxiety that, at the end of November, didn’t disappoint to continue more of the same.”
The Golden Bears end with an 8-1 record and were 20-2 the past two seasons combined. They reached the state semifinals both times, hosted the first postseason game in program history a year ago, won their first OVAC title since 1965 last season, and the list goes on and on.
“I told them from the get-go that if we could change our culture and be about each other, even though we couldn’t end as being champions on the field, the kids can take pride in what we were able to accomplish together as a family,” Arneault said. “I’m really proud of them stepping up in a tough situation and never backing down.”
Twenty seniors filled the roster in 2020. One guy who has seen it all is quarterback Nick Chaney. He started every game since his freshman season and never missed a contest.
“To be honest, I wasn’t real sure if he was ready to start as a freshman,” Arneault said. “The original idea was to see how Hunter Skeeles and Nick would progress. For Nick, his opportunity came after Hunter broke his arm during the first week. From that day forward, Nick led our team and just did a great job.
“He got better and better every game. He’s very smart and is a competitor. He has that type of personality that just made it really easy to coach. We had great chemistry together. It’s a special relationship. He has a great legacy in Oak Glen.”
Another senior who started all four years is wide receiver/linebacker Gage Patterson.
“Gage has always been small in stature but big in heart,” Arneault said. “As a freshman, he was only 125 pounds, but I think 20 of it was his heart. He played all four years with great enthusiasm and passion. He left it all out on the field. He’s somebody that always played bigger than what he was.”
Then there is Hunter Patterson, an athlete who could play virtually anywhere on the field. He finished with more than 900 yards rushing and receiving this season and broke a state playoff record in the second round, along with many other accolades.
Arguably the most talented player in Oak Glen history, Hunter Patterson played on the jayvee team as a freshman before being called up.
“He really bought into his development as a player and had to put in a lot of time in the weight room,” Arneault said. “He obviously has a lot of natural athletic ability, but he also is somebody that has a great work ethic and had to work for what he has. He turned out to be a great leader for us. I think everyone respects what he can do on the field. He’s somebody I expect to play on Saturdays (in college) if he chooses to do so.”
All-state defensive back Kyler O’Connor was limited to six games due to a finger injury sustained early in the season. He still recorded 11 sacks and also was a presence on the offensive line.
“I know it was hard for him to sit out (for three weeks), but he was 100 percent when he was able to come back against Weir High,” Arneault said. “He was a man on a mission. I can’t express enough how imperative he was to make our offensive line work. He was almost unblockable on defense. I look for him to be an all-stater again, and he deserves it.”
Arneault can go on and on about the other 16 seniors, and all left their mark in some form. Three whose seasons were cut short were Brayden Mineard, Paxton Shuman and Evan Geisse. Shuman only played one snap in the second round game following a leg injury.
Other seniors with more than a year of varsity experience are Jeremy Adams, Danny Bealles, Ethan Hooker, Matthew Malick, Jeremy Taylor and Williams Minnis. Seniors who joined Oak Glen for the first time (or at least the first time in more than a year) are Cam Reed, Austin Almo, Seth Hayes, Dom Moody, Chase Smith, Kaden Lundy and Tristian Pickering.
“I don’t know what else you can ask out of this group,” Arneault said. “Not only were they incredibly talented on the field through what was expected out of them, but also what they gave to the underclassmen. They built a lasting legacy of supportiveness. Our underclassmen definitely benefited from their leadership.”