By Steve Keenan
Another run at Ansted High’s state record for consecutive football victories ended in late September with Martinsburg’s 36-33 loss to Westminster, Md.
The setback for the two-time defending Class AAA state champions halted a 32-game win streak, allowing Ansted’s 36-game standard to live on for at least a couple more years.
Roger Eades, who was the head coach for the majority of the Highlanders’ run, said he and his wife, Paula, normally knew when past teams such as Morgantown (28) and Wheeling Central (35) were closing in on the mark, but they were unaware until a Charleston reporter called him following the recent Martinsburg loss.
“It caught me completely by surprise,” said Eades, now 73. “I had no idea.
“We know it’s going to be broken.”
The 36-game Ansted streak spanned the last four games of the 1970 season (8-0-2 under the guidance of Eades’ cousin, John), all of 1971 and ‘72, and the majority of 1973. The middle two campaigns ended with the Highlanders 11-0 and Class A state champions (getting past Fairview 20-14 in ‘71 and Monongah 8-7 in ‘72). Ansted had an unblemished regular season in 1973, but lost 14-6 to eventual champ Monongah in the first round of the playoffs at Ripley.
“We had ‘em (Monongah) 6-0 before the half, and we scored again before halftime and they called it back,” Eades recalled. “I asked the official why and he said our wideout moved.
“We got the film, and no one moved.”
From 1970-74, Ansted also set two other state records — a 42-game unbeaten streak covering the regular season and the postseason, and a 47-game regular season unbeaten streak.
“We finished the regular season four years in a row as No. 1,” Eades said. “You couldn’t complain for a little old school like Ansted.”
Eades, who retired from Midland Trail High after the 1984 season, was assisted during his career by Bill White, a longtime Boomer resident whom he calls “a top-notch friend, more like a brother.”
Those early 1970s Ansted teams were blessed, Eades said.
The key, he stressed, was a “a tremendous love of the game.”
“We had more injuries in practices than in games (alluding to his players’ enthusiasm and work habits),” he continued. “We were very fortunate; we were three-deep in every position.
“We had size, speed, power, defense, ... . The good Lord was very good to us.”
Nowadays, Eades doesn’t get out to the football stadium as much as he used to, although he still tries to keep up with the progress of local teams. His hunting pursuits are one reason for that, and he also readily admits to another reason. “I’ve gotten lazy. When darkness comes, I just stay home.”
But, people still remember him roaming the local sidelines overseeing a state powerhouse which shone the light on a small Fayette County town four decades ago.
And, thanks to Martinsburg’s loss, Ansted teams from that era can still lay claim to statewide bragging rights.