AllState

Several local players have earned all-state status, including Oak Hill’s Alex Ashley, Fayetteville’s Chase Lafferty, Mount Hope’s Davon Marion, Mount Hope’s Joe Thornquest, Meadow Bridge’s Billy Trump and Fayetteville’s Drew Weis.

WHEELING — Some have accused Wheeling Central coach Mike Young of running up the score. This season, for instance, the Maroon Knights captured their fourth consecutive West Virginia Class A state championship with a 51-14 victory against Williamstown at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Central left more than a little carnage in its path along the way, outscoring its opponents by an average score of 46.3-12.9. Included in that mess were five Class AA teams and another from AAA (D.C. Ballou).

What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is Young’s starters didn’t play a single down in the second half in most cases.

That makes the fact the Maroon Knights were honored Tuesday by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association with six Class A first-team selections on its all-state team all the more remarkable.

“For us to have that many kids on the team, that many recognized, is a tribute to the entire Central family,” Young said. “What a tribute to the kids and coaches.

“I’ll match my coaching staff’s work ethic, knowledge of the game and preparation with anybody in the tri-state area.”

Quarterback Alex Peluchette and stand-up defensive lineman Josh Contraguerro were selected as the respective offensive and defensive captains.

Peluchette, who was a first-teamer last season as a utility specialist, passed for more than 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns, while running for 746 more and 13 scores.

Contraguerro became the first Wheeling Central player to letter on four state championship teams, and he led a defense in nearly every statistical category. All told, the Maroon Knights surrendered 161 total yards a game.

Not counting the title game, he had 101 tackles, 11.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries, four interceptions, two blocked punts and a forced fumble.

Joining those two on the first team were Wheeling Central running back Chris Martin (1,507 yards, 30TD), junior linebacker Dan Gordon (91 tackles, 7.5 sacks), defensive utility selection DeVaughn Gordon (four punt returns for touchdowns) and offensive lineman Bryce Hartman, who spearheaded a line that paved the way for more than 4,000 yards and 62 touchdowns on the ground.

The Northern Panhandle made up a large portion of the team as Paden City’s Wes Cosper (utility), Bishop Donahue’s L.A. Hampton (receiver) and Madonna’s John McCune (linebacker) were also selected.

Cosper rushed for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns, while throwing for 934 yards and nine more scores. Hampton hauled in 50 passes for nearly 800 yards and 11 scores, and McCune was the leading tackler (90 stops) for coach Bob Kramer’s state semifinalist.

Fayetteville’s Drew Weis and Pocahontas County’s Cyrus Bennett were the other running backs. Weis accumulated 1,489 yards and 21 touchdowns, while Bennett surpassed 2,000 yards.

The rest of the offensive line positions went to Fayetteville’s Chase Lafferty, Richwood’s Shawn Murphy, who’s being heavily recruited by Marshall, Bryan Casto of state semifinalist St. Marys and Justin Wajda of Williamstown, who’s line helped produced nearly 4,000 total yards.

East Hardy’s Dakota Hoover was the second receiver after hauling in 39 catches for 751 yards and nine touchdowns. Clarksburg Notre Dame’s Preston Musgrave earned a utility selection this season, as did Mount Hope’s Davon Marion (200 carries, 1,243 yards and 13 scores).

Nick Whytsell of Calhoun County earned the nod as the kicker. He led his area with 41 points, including four field goals. Defensively, Williamstown’s Cory Hart, Mount Hope’s Joe Thornquest and Wirt County’s Adam Brodgon joined Contraguerro on the line. Hart registered 137 tackles (13 for loss) and 12 sacks, while Brogdon led his team with 107 tackles (50 solo), five sacks and three fumble recoveries.

The other linebackers are Buffalo’s Nick Harris, the team’s leading tackler, and Notre Dame’s Chris Stanton.

Quinn Miller of Gilbert and Buffalo’s Corey Good lead the secondary, along with Meadow Bridge’s Billy Trump and Moorefield’s Tucker Smith. Miller was a first-team selection as a a receiver last season but played QB this year in addition to standing out in the defensive backfield.

Second-team selections from Fayette County were running back Anthony Grimmett and defensive back Dustin Nickell of Midland Trail, offensive lineman Matt Hess of Fayetteville, and defensive lineman Justin Bennett and utility player Tyler Bennett of Meadow Bridge.

Special honorable mention picks included Darrell Kincaid of Midland Trail, Patrick Kincaid of Meadow Bridge, Jordan Roark of Fayetteville and Jack Simms of Valley.

Travis Taylor of Valley was on the honorable mention list.

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Also last week, the writers’ group honored the Class AA squads.

Oak Hill’s 6-3, 194-pound senior Alex Ashley, who was a standout on both sides of the ball for the Red Devils, was chosen as a first-team defensive lineman.

Oak Hill’s B.J. Wallace and Chris Lawson were special honorable mention choices, and Josh Murray was on the honorable mention list.

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