WHEELING, W.Va. - Bridgeport's 14-13 win over Wayne in the Class AA state championship game Friday night at Wheeling Island Stadium did more than end the Pioneers' (13-1) two-year run as state champ and their 36-game winning streak.
Bridgeport (13-1) improved to 7-1 all-time in state championship game appearances when Indians senior defensive back Anthony Bonamico knocked down a Grant Ferguson pass intended for Mason Hodge in the end zone as time expired. The only time Bridgeport has lost in a state title game was in 2001. That year, the defending champion Indians fell to Poca 21-7, sparking the Dots' three-year run as state champs.
"I'd like to tell you we'd been doing this all year, but this is by far the toughest contest we've been in," Bridgeport Coach Josh Nicewarner said. "The defense won this ball game, undoubtedly. As good as their offense was we bent but didn't break.
"That's the story really," he said.
Nicewarner became the first high school coach in West Virginia to win a state championship as a coach after winning one as a player since 2005, the last time Morgantown won a Class AAA state title. Mohigans Coach John Bowers was a junior on the 1990 Brooke High School team that beat Mount View in the Super Six in Charleston.
Nicewarner played for Bridgeport's 2000 Class AA title team coached by Bruce Carey.
"BEST DEFENSE in the state my ass!"
Those were the words of an unidentified Martinsburg assistant coach as he blasted his way through the press box in order to get back onto the field near the end of the Class AAA title game Saturday afternoon.
Huntington finished the regular season with the top scoring defense in Class AAA, yielding a stingy 93 points in 10 games.
Still, it was a curious recalling of the game's events. Martinsburg's margin of victory in its 9-7 win over the Highlanders was the product of a safety the Bulldogs recorded when Tyler Miller blocked a David Gatrell punt that went out of the back of the north end zone at Wheeling Island Stadium in the first half. Martinsburg's offense, meanwhile, was held to season lows with 83 yards and nine points. The Bulldogs were held to minus-32 yards of total offense after halftime.