Wayne Makes Return Trip to Wheeling, While Huntington Makes First
For the second straight year two Huntington area teams are headed to Wheeling this weekend to battle for football State Championships in this year’s Super Six. Both Huntington High and Wayne High have taken different routes.
For Huntington High the game marks the first trip to the state title game since 1966, and a possible first state championship in football. For Wayne High, it’s the third straight appearance and a chance at three straight titles in Class AA and a state record 37 wins in a row.
Wayne’s game will kick-off Friday evening at 7:30 at Wheeling Island Stadium against Bridgeport. It’s a battle of the top seed Wayne against the second seed Bridgeport and it isn’t the first time the two schools have met for a state title. In 2000 Bridgeport was victorious. That game marked the first of 5 trips since the year 2000 for Wayne. Wayne Head Coach Tom Harmon said they deal with the target on their back by working hard.
“Well you try not to deal with it on game night, if you’re waiting till game night to play your best game, which can be a problem, you need to take care of those issues in preparation,” Harmon said.
Wayne’s opponent the Bridgeport Indians have 22 consecutive playoff appearances and trips to the semifinals in four of the last five years, with two of those years as a Class AAA team. Their game plan isn’t much different from what Wayne does. Wayne features a wing-T offense they call the Wayne-T, while Bridgeport runs the ball out of a stick-I. Harmon said Bridgeport is unique compared to many teams around the state, they block with the best of them.
Wayne enters the contest at 13-0 and Bridgeport sits at 12-1. Wayne’s hope is that a solid running game mixed with good defense will mean a third straight championship win.
In just his fifth season Billy Seals has taken a program from 0-10 his first season at Huntington to 13-0 and a number one ranking heading to Wheeling for a noon kick-off Saturday against Martinsburg.
Seals said Saturdays challenge is the biggest they’ve faced yet. Martinsburg is the winner of the last three state championships at the AAA level in the state. Led by talented quarterback Malique Watkins the second ranked Bulldogs only loss this season was by a score of 35-34 to Tuscarora from Virginia. Seals said the biggest key for them against Martinsburg is to not get overwhelmed by the scene and the Bulldogs.
"First thing we have to weather the storm early, hopefully the stage does not get us big-eyed," Seals said.
“First thing we have to weather the storm early, hopefully the stage does not get us big-eyed to where we don’t handle it well early in the game. And if you look at last week in the Martinsburg game, they jump up 14-0 with 9 minutes and 30 seconds to go in the first quarter on Capital and then you’re kind of playing catchup the rest of the night and you just can’t do that against a great team like Martinsburg,” Seals said.
The Single A game at the Super Six takes place Saturday night at 7 between Greenbrier West and Madonna.