CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a sports fable nearly as old as competition itself that tells the story of a team that falls short of its goal only to come back the next season hungrier and more determined than ever before.
It typically doesn't work that way. The won-loss records of Super Bowl losers in their follow-up seasons actually show more of a hangover effect.
Nothing energizes a program like winning.
At Wahama, years spent in the pursuit of a Class A football state championship were finally realized in 2012, when running back Kane Roush led the White Falcons with 179 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in a 43-42 overtime win over Madonna at the Super Six in Wheeling.
The resulting effect on the Wahama program and the community of Mason is actually predictable.
"It's been great since then. More people have actually been in the weight room in the offseason. All over the place people are doing their part to make the team better than we were last year," Roush said.
"Usually, people want to sit around all summer and not do much. I think it just made the team even more hungry for a championship."
Roush did his share and then some for the White Falcons in 2012. He carried the ball 145 times for 1,771 yards and 25 touchdowns in the team's 14-0 run to a title. His rushing total makes him the second-leading rusher returning from a year ago, behind Meadow Bridge senior Jacob Parker (2,415 yards).
Few in West Virginia outside of Mason County - set well away from an Interstate highway and more than an hour's drive north from the Marshall University sports-hungry city of Huntington - ever see much of Wahama or Roush until the playoffs. Of West Virginia teams, Wahama played only Fayetteville and traditional rival Buffalo in the regular season last year, and the same will be the case in 2013.
Roush said he thinks most discount his team's schedule because of their unfamiliarity with prep football in Ohio.
"Trimble made the Ohio playoffs last year," he said. "There's people who don't realize that. When we played Buffalo they were ranked seventh in the state.
"A lot of guys here feel we should get more respect."
There's no better way to gain respect than to show respect. That's exactly what Roush & Co. did in the 2012 postseason.
After a first-round shutout of Buffalo, Wahama downed Greenbrier West at home, 21-12, in the quarterfinals.
A week later, they accomplished a rare feat in the semifinals, beating Magnolia 10-7 in New Martinsville on a last-second field goal by Zach Wamsley. It was just the second time Magnolia had lost a playoff game at home since 1991.