CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For most teams, making it to the playoffs would be considered a solid season.
For the Wheeling Central football team, they expect much more than simply making the postseason.
After winning back-to-back Class A titles in 2010 and 2011, the Maroon Knights took a minor step back last season, mostly due to injuries, and finished 7-4 before bowing out in the first round to East Hardy.
When the Knights play their season opener at home on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Harrison Central (Ohio), Central Coach Mike Young has just one mindset: get back to the Super Six, where his team can regain its dominance over the Class A field.
"Our goal is always to play in the first week of December (State title game)," Young said. "For some, it's a dream. For us, the last 13 years, we have won eight state titles. That's not bragging, but I am very happy and proud of what we have been able to accomplish."
Young is confident heading into the upcoming season that the team can get back to that level, largely because of the fact that Central has a potent 1-2 punch at running back and at quarterback in C.J. Burch and quarterback Parker Henry.
In their quest for a three-peat last season, the Maroon Knights suffered a devastating blow, losing Henry to a season-ending knee injury. A Daily Mail Preseason All-State selection, Henry was lost in a scrimmage against Tucker County, just one week before the season opener.
Burch was set to be Central's feature running back, but when Henry went down for the season, the then junior was forced into the leading role at quarterback.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Burch excelled in the role, turning in a solid season, rushing for 1,637 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns on the ground. He also threw for 763 yards and nine more touchdowns for a combined 30 scores.
Burch, in his first season in a starring role after playing special teams his freshman season and part-time running back as a sophomore, was named a Class A First Team All-State selection as a utility player.
Young was impressed with what Burch was able to accomplish running the team at quarterback, especially being thrown into the fire in a position he hadn't played since sixth grade.
"C.J. did a great job, stepping up last year into a role he had to get ready for in a week's time," Young said. "He did a courageous job and to win seven games and make the playoffs in such a tough situation, we were very proud of what he and we accomplished."