Ron Gregory

December 10, 2013

Was there really any doubt going into the Super Six high school football championships at Wheeling Island?

Your Fearless Forecaster told you, in advance, who would win each of the state’s three classes. Need we say more?

Modest as I am, it is difficult for me to brag on myself. But, Gawd, I’m good.

In the Triple A title game, I told you that the mere presence of former Lincoln County High/Chapmanville coach Cory Beck would doom the Highlanders. It did, but just by two points in a game in which HHS was favored to win. Ranked number one going into the championship game, Martinsburg prevailed as the number two team.

I predict Huntington High will NEVER win a state championship in football as long as Beck is on the staff. Nice fellow; LOOKS like a coach; CAN’T coach.

Then my sentimental favorite (females cause great sentimentality in my life), Bridgeport, finally made a believer out of me. I was for Robert C. Byrd, Bridgeport and Clarksburg Notre Dame all along but had serious doubts Bridgeport could defeat powerful Wayne. That’s an example of why I should never doubt my claim to near-perfection. Bridgeport defeated Wayne, 14-13. Happy times in old Harrison County.

Finally, in Class A, we all expected the Catholics, with their tremendous advantages (God is on THEIR side), to prevail and they did. It was Weirton Madonna 24, Greenbrier West 14 in the finale.

Had Madonna not recruited all those future NFLers, Greenbrier West might have had a chance. Or West might want to watch the Greenbrier East basketball program and Coach Jim Justice to see how to REALLY recruit. He’s made a science of it.

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If anyone is picking up this column for the first time, having just emerged from a cave, my remarks about Catholic schools are intended as sarcasm. Pitiful public school coaches always cry about the perceived advantage Catholic schools have in recruiting. It is a stupid theory but a theory nonetheless.

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While we sit Sunday evening to see who Marshall’s opponent will be in the Military Bowl, it is a joy to remember West Virginia University is home for the holidays.

There are those who claim to be both Marshall and WVU fans. I, frankly, don’t think it’s possible. It would be like be married to two sisters. Wait a minute, that might not be a BAD idea; let me think of something else. It would be like owning the two best pigs at the county fair. How could you root for both?

While some WVU fans MIGHT cheer for Marshall whenever they aren’t playing WVU, I can assure you I do NOT root for WVU no matter who the opponent. I can become the biggest Kansas fan of all time if the Mountaineers are the opponent.

Many times, innocent fans ask my reasons for feeling as I do. I usually just say, “I’m a West Virginia native; I’m not from Pennsylvania or New York.” Usually, that flies over the listener’s head.

I believe too much state money is devoted to a school in Morgantown that has educating out-of-staters as its mission. More West Virginians attend Marshall than WVU; there are far more MU graduates in the Kanawha Valley than WVU grads.

I also see no sign that the “state university” gives a damn about the state. They take money from the public and private sector; and give very little in return.

Perhaps MU will play Maryland at Annapolis, which would be a great event. You will know by the time you read this column.

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Great news for Scott High School, its players and fans came over the weekend when veteran Football Coach Shane Griffith announced he will return for yet another year at the helm of the Skyhawks.

To say 2013 was a disappointing year for the Scott team would be a tremendous understatement. After starting the year by collapsing in the second half at Falling Rock against Herbert Hoover, the Hawks never fully recovered. After a win over pitiful Lincoln County, they suffered consecutive losses at Chapmanville and Sissonville and the season was in the balance.

Griffith made an effort to make a mid-season adjustment and bring his team back to the old days of smash-mouth football. Looking to a passing offense when the year began, Griffith switched to grind-it-out-on-ground “Scott football” but could not turn the season around.

When the curtain fell, the Hawks had just three wins, over LCHS, Westside and Poca, and no post-season appearance.

That led to Griffith re-evaluating his tenure at Scott. He wondered aloud if the players had passed him by; if his methods were out-of-style. He said he wanted to be sure he was the “right man” to coach the Scott football team.

Supported by family, friends, fans and this sports columnist, Griffith saw the light and decided to return.

That is simply good news for the Skyhawk fans all over the nation. Griffith is a quality man and a first-class coach. There are not too many of those left.

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Meanwhile, the Ottawa RedBlacks, newest entry in the Canadien Football League, have signed free agent Jordan Roberts, the former Scott High star.

The 23-year-old running back is the fifth free agent signed by the new team. Ottawa will begin play in 2014 in the CFL. They had a difficult time getting started again in the league, having originally been scheduled to debut in 2010.

Roberts, of Yawkey, Lincoln County, was an early star for the Duval Raiders of the Boone/Lincoln Midget Football League. He played his high school ball at Scott, where he earned the Kennedy Award as the best high school footballer in the state. After that, he spent a year at West Virginia University before moving on to the University of Charleston. At UC, he set a number of national and school records.

While at Charleston, he earned two Division II all-American awards while producing 4,918 yards and 50 touchdowns for the Golden Eagles. In his final game at UC, the 5-10, 222-pounder set team and Division II records with 190 yards rushing in one quarter and 273 yards in one half.

He attended NFL training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs but was cut during the pre-season.

Ottawa, a city not new to the CFL having previously fielded a squad, is expected to add 24 players in the expansion draft.

The RedBlacks training camp is expected to begin in late May. They will kick off the regular season on the road in June. In July, the team is expected to play its firwt home contest at remodeled Lansdowne Park.

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