Prep football: Pioneers standout Spurlock tops Class AA All-State team
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- At the heart of every successful football team is belief in the concept that team comes before the individual.
Perhaps no team better exemplifies the idea than Wayne High School.
After winning the 2011 Class AA state championship, the Pioneers were immediately tabbed as the favorite to capture the title again in 2012. They handled those lofty expectations by running the table with a 14-0 record that culminated with a second consecutive title.
Along the way, Wayne extended the state's longest winning streak to 23 games.
Pioneers didn't trail at any point in the 2012 season and posted three straight shutouts in the state playoff quarterfinals, semifinals and title game, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 110-0.
With that much team success, it's only natural that some individual honors fall into place.
The Pioneers have four players that earned first-team honors on the Class AA All-State team, announced Thursday by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Pioneers running back Brandon Spurlock, the top overall choice in Class AA in voting among writers and coaches, is the captain of the first-team offense.
Spurlock is joined by teammates Grant Ferguson at quarterback, Anthony Bryant on the offensive line and Mason Hodge at linebacker. Spurlock and Bryant are seniors, while Ferguson and Hodge are sophomores.
"The best part about all four of those kids is that they buy into the team-first concept," Wayne Coach Tom Harmon said. "They would be the first to tell you that they couldn't accomplish what they did without the help of their teammates. They are also four very good football players and we're excited for them to get the recognition.
"I think Brandon really showed the state what he was capable of despite missing the semifinal game and basically playing on one leg against Keyser. Grant really improved throughout the season and gave us a really strong passing game. He also had to cover every team's best receiver on defense. Anthony was a dominant force on both offense and defense, and Mason, you just don't see a lot of kids built the way he is as a sophomore."
Spurlock was the team's leading rusher, with 2,003 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Ferguson completed 63 of 188 passes for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns with just one interception, while adding 516 yards on the ground with seven scores.
Bryant was the team's leader up front on both sides of the ball. Hodge was Wayne's leading tackler.
Robert C. Byrd, which gave Wayne its closest game of the year, an 18-0 Pioneers win in the semifinals, also has four first-team selections, including defensive captain Jermodd Garrett, a linebacker.
Garrett had 172 tackles, including 45 for loss and 16 sacks to help the Eagles post their best record in school history. They finished 11-2.
He's joined on the first team by fellow senior teammates Iziah Hill at receiver, Scott Levine at kicker and Teague Wagner on the defensive line.
Hill caught only 25 passes in 2012, but finished with 555 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also added three defensive/ special teams scores. Levine converted 62 PAT attempts, booted 10 field goals and had 58 touchbacks on kickoffs.
"I'm surprised sometimes that there are some out there that don't get that it's the way it has to be if you want to be any good," Robert C. Byrd Coach Bruce Carey said in regards to a team-first philosophy.
"Our guys bought into this year. If you take care of yourself and your team, the individual honors will come. Jermodd is a guy that is so fast and physical at that linebacker spot, he really does play sideline to sideline.
"Teague was one of our leaders on both sides of the ball and really helped some of the younger linemen come around. Scott is a guy that has the ability to kick at the next level, but still always trying to find ways to get better every week.
"Iziah Hill, that's somebody I've been saying since August is as good an athlete as I've ever had."
State runner-up Keyser, along with Bridgeport, Braxton County and Bluefield each had a pair of first-team selections.
For the Golden Tornado, Drew Roy was picked as an offensive lineman and Danny Fife (43 tackles) is on the defensive unit as a linebacker.
Bridgeport was represented by Brett Hathaway at running back and Cameron Stanley at linebacker.
Hathaway, a first-team selection last year in Class AAA, ran for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns. Stanley led the Indians with 84 tackles.
Braxton County's Jacob Yanero (defensive utility) and Wyatt Lucas (offensive line) made the team. Yanero, who ran for 1,542 yards with 16 touchdowns and threw for 512 yards and six scores, was also one of the Eagles' top defenders, with 90 stops. Lucas, a four-year starter, was the heart and soul of the line on both sides of the ball.
Bluefield's Montel Leggett was picked as a first-team running back, while D.J. Edwards is at defensive back.
Joining Hill at receiver is Frankfort's Thane Cutter (42 receptions, 980 yards, nine touchdowns). Scott's Dakota Ball and Ritchie County's Sam Hall fill out the first-team offensive line.
Joining Wagner on the first-team defensive line are Oak Glen's Preston Murray (53 tackles, 12 tackles for loss) and River View's Brandon Thomas.
In addition to Garrett, Hodge, Stanley and Fife, Ravenswood's Brad Titus (150 tackles) is a first-team linebacker.
Liberty (Harrison) senior Ty Noss (68 tackles, two interceptions) and Mingo Central's Joe May (49 tackles, four interceptions) join Edwards in the defensive backfield.
The first-team punter is Philip Barbour's Tyler Schiefelbein, who had a 38.6 yards per punt average.
Keyser running back Blake Ravenscroft is the captain of the second-team offense, while Bluefield defensive back Johnny Davis captains the second-team defense.