MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Chazzy Thomas had a shortened yet impressive nine-game 2012 season last year due to a leg injury that led to a Class AAA All-State nod by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Almost a year after his season was cut short, Thomas has worked his way back this season to prove to the state that this Morgantown High team is in state title winning condition for the first time since 2005.
Mohigans Coach John Bowers said he sees incredible potential in the 2013 team with Thomas as a key element. Morgantown (6-1) is ranked ninth in the current SSAC Class AAA playoff ratings, and is No. 3 in the Daily Mail Poll.
"I was worried at the beginning of the season that this team would be harder to coach but they have shown perseverance and togetherness that fixed many problems on their own," Bowers said. "We have one of the most tight-knit groups and Thomas has a huge lead role in this group."
Morgantown faced OVAC rival and title-hungry Wheeling Park last week at Pony Lewis Field on Morgantown's campus. Park overcame a large early deficit to force overtime, but Thomas capped a five-touchdown performance with one in OT to seal the win.
Thomas currently has 30 TDs on 146 carries, and has rushed for 1,989 yards. His rushing and touchdown totals lead all players in West Virginia. George Washington senior Draven Riffe is the second-leading rusher in Class AAA, with 1,379 yards and 18 TDs on 155 carries.
"We are a playoff-winning team. We have to keep doing what we are doing. After my injury I came out knowing I had to do exactly what I did last year and more," Thomas said. "The only thing that has changed is I mentally have to realize I can't do some things I used to do on the field."
His adjustments have worked tremendously and with one of, if not the, best offensive lines in the state - senior Amanii Brown and junior Stone Wolfley have already committed to West Virginia University - Morgantown is looking more like it will claim another Kennedy Award and perhaps, another state championship.
"Friday our team and coaching staff were struggling all together. The players' body language was poor and the coaching staff - including myself -were saying all the wrong things," Bowers said. "But Chazz took control. He doesn't say a word but still went out there as hard as always and that forces these boys to do their jobs. He led the team that night."
Thomas said that his injury last year - suffered against rival University - has only allowed room for him to improve his work ethic and mentally prepare for what is his last season.
He finished 2012 with 157 carries for 1,503 yards. He had 20 TDs in those nine games, and in the seven games this season has surpassed those numbers.
Thomas and Coach Bowers believe they can be playoff ready in no time.