WHEELING — For three straight title games, the Class A juggernaut that is Wheeling Central thwarted Williamstown’s attempts at capturing its first football championship.

Nevermind the Maroon Knights’ depth and skill players, it was their line that was simply too much for the competition to overcome, the Yellowjackets included.

“They always have talented people, but they seemed to whip up on us on the line,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. “Usually, their offensive and defense lines are head-and-shoulders above everybody else.”

That is, until this season.

Williamstown finally had an offensive line that not only could match Wheeling Central’s, but overpower it. The result, a 14-13 Jackets semifinal victory, spoke for itself.

A week later in the title game against unbeaten Madonna and its staunch defense, the Jackets o-line asserted itself again.

Williamstown is far from a passing team and given the frozen conditions and steady stream of snow blanketing Wheeling Island Stadium, the prospects of Smith’s team marching down field through the air was slim.

The Blue Dons knew what was coming, but just couldn’t stop it as Cameron Powell ran for 234 yards in a 23-7 victory.

“The weather was so bad, we really couldn’t throw the ball,” Smith said. “We tried. One was picked, the other was (incomplete).

“We had to run the ball, which wasn’t any big secret, but our line did the job and played a huge part in Cameron’s success.”

As a result, Williamstown placed two linemen, seniors Ryan Zide (5-foot-10, 246 pounds) and Robbi Wigal (5-10, 201), on the first team when the West Virginia Sports Writers Association released its Class A all-state team.

A third lineman, junior Cody Matheny (6-0, 235), was honored as a first-team defensive lineman. They were joined by Powell, who finished with 10 interceptions, as a defensive back and kicker Joe Palm as the state champs had five players listed on the first team.

Headlining the first-team offense is Mount Hope senior running back Da’Von Marion. A Kennedy Award finalist, Marion captains the offense after rushing for 2,310 yards and scoring 36 total touchdowns.

He is joined in the backfield by a pair of juniors in Calhoun County’s Randy Fluharty and runner-up Madonna’s A.J. Klein.

Klein rushed for 1,260 yards and 20 TDs, averaging 10.6 yards per carry before suffering a crushing knee injury during the semifinal round against St. Marys. Klein was unavailable to play against Williamstown. Fluharty, whose team lost to Madonna in the first round, finished a stellar campaign with 1,978 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The receivers are Notre Dame sophomore Alek Marinaro and Fayetteville senior Troy Hopkins. Hopkins had 21 catches for 533 yards and six touchdowns while Marinaro had 43 for 734 and 10.

The quarterback slot went to Tucker County’s dual-threat Brendan Miller. A junior, Miller ran for 1,681 yards and 23 TDs and passed for 1,221 yards and 12 more.

Joining Zide and Wigal along the interior are Fayetteville’s Chase Lafferty, St. Marys Bryan Casto and Big Creek’s Shane Hicks. A trio of seniors round of the first-team offense at the utility spots in Paden City’s Wes Cosper, St. Marys’ Derek Spitzer and Pocahontas County’s Dexter Skidmore.

Cosper ran for 1,248 yards and 15 TDs, caught 15 passes and caught 15 passes for 158 yards and two scores while leading the Wildcats to a 5-5 record. Spitzer accounted for 1,495 yards and 21 TDs rushing and Skidmore totaled more than 1,800 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns.

Defensively, it was Wheeling Central senior linebacker Daniel Gordon who drew the captain’s badge.

A repeat first-teamer, one of 10 on this year’s team, Gordon led the Maroon Knights with 133 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles playing against the toughest schedule of any Class A team.

“He was definitely a force,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said of his defensive captain. “He wreaked havoc and was relentless in getting to the ballcarrier. I think he has unlimited potential, even at the next level.

“With his foot speed and lateral movement, he’s able to cover the field from his linebacker position.”

He is joined by teammate and fellow returner DeVaughn Gordon at defensive utility. DeVaughn Gordon had 41 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, two picks and was the team’s leading rusher and kick-punt returner.

Joining Matheny on the defensive line are seniors Dante Greco of Madonna, Joe Thornquest of Mount Hope and junior Cody Gooslin of Matewan.

Blue Dons junior Lou Comis joins Dan Gordon at linebacker, along with South Harrison’s Kurtis Rickles and St. Marys Zac Anderson.

Man’s Khris Tolliver, Matewan’s Josh Sammons and Fayetteville’s Drew Weis join Powell in the secondary, while St. Marys’ Nick Whytsell was named punter.

Wahama quarterback William Zuspan captained the second-team offense and Parkersburg Catholic linebacker Tommy Brunoni headed up the defense.

Locally, other honorees included: Second team — Eric Halstead, Meadow Bridge, RB; Chris Thompson, Mount Hope, OL; Coty Pierson, Midland Trail, Util.; MichaelAngelo Hernandez, Fayetteville, K; K.C. Dempsey, Fayetteville, DB; special honorable mention — Joey Dean, Midland Trail; Jacob Fernandez, Fayetteville; Ryan Lester, Mount Hope; and Rodney Mullins, Meadow Bridge; and honorable mention — Tyler Bennett, Meadow Bridge; Jake Crist, Midland Trail; Will Deskins, Midland Trail; B.J. Puckett, Mount Hope; and Jack Simms, Valley.

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