CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It took all of about 2 minutes after University's 9-3 win over Morgantown in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs for a Twitter free-for-all to break out.
It started innocently enough. After Morgantown running back, Kennedy Award frontrunner and - depending on whose version of the story you believe - hallway hero Chazzy Thomas was limited to 6 yards on three carries in a season-ending loss, I tweeted, "I have absolutely no idea who will win the Kennedy Award."
The statement wasn't even meant as an indictment of Thomas' season as being non-Kennedy worthy. He's still one of the leading contenders for the award, given annually to the state's top player and chosen by a vote of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Unfortunately for him, history is now stacked against his candidacy. The last time a player whose team did not qualify for the playoff quarterfinals won the award was 1989, when - coincidentally - Morgantown's David Mayfield won the Kennedy, two years before the Secondary School Activities Commission expanded the playoff field from eight to 16 teams in each class.
Thomas carried 174 times for 2,108 yards and 30 touchdowns in Morgantown's 8-3 season. That's certainly an impressive stat sheet for a running back, but many writers have already weighed in that Thomas' time lost due to an ankle injury suffered in Week 8 against Musselman must be taken into consideration. After all, the Mohigans' first seven games included two against Class AA-equivalent teams from out of state, as well as games against Parkersburg South (2-8) and Brooke (3-7).
When Morgantown's season was on the line, Thomas was largely resigned to the role of a bystander.
Responses to my statement of wide-openness were mostly quizzical.
"If K(ashuan) Haley goes for 250 and 3 tds against Univ(ersity) you think he plays his way in to the race," one asked, regarding the Capital junior running back.
"Nick Tubbs would be one. 1,800 all-purpose (yards) and 18 TD," read another.
Yes, him too.
Without question. Madonna quarterback Ross Comis has emerged as perhaps the top Class A contender for the award since Sistersville's Jeff Swisher was the last smallschool winner in 1986.