www.charlestondailymail.com Prep Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers PREP FOOTBALL: Park's Johnson wants to exceed father's achievements http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140804/DM03/140809750 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140804/DM03/140809750 Mon, 4 Aug 2014 16:51:26 -0400 By Rich Stevens The Wheeling Park High School football team has won only 11 playoff games since opening its doors in 1976 and five of those came in 1991 and 2013 combined.

And, each of those teams were led by a running back with the same last name.

Savion Johnson hopes to go one step farther than his father - Daryl "Boogie" Johnson - did in 1991 when the Patriots reached the Class AAA state championship game before dropping a 15-14 overtime decision to Capital. The younger Johnson helped the Patriots reach the state semifinals last year, only to fall, 34-21, to Huntington at Bob Sang Stadium. Those are the only two times Wheeling Park has reached the state semifinals.

The rising junior also wouldn't mind becoming only the second Wheeling Park player to win the Harry H. Kennedy Award, just like his father 23 years ago.

"I don't think about doing the same things, I want to do better than all of them," said Johnson, who ran for 1,484 yards on 213 carries and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore. "I wish we would've went one step further, but it meant a lot to be called the second-best team (in the history of the school)."

Running somewhat timid early as a sophomore, Johnson became more decisive as the 2013 season wore on. In the opener against Keyser - the first multi-carry game of his career - he had 118 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in the Patriots' 45-22 rout of the 2012 Class AA runner-up Golden Tornado.

"That was my first varsity game, so I was nervous," said Johnson, whose 40-yard dash clocking was 4.67 seconds when he was timed most recently at the high school. "I didn't want to mess up. I just tried not to stay too calm, but to make sure I followed my blocks. I was more confident as the season went on."

Johnson helped a senior-laden team roll to a 9-1 regular season record during which Wheeling Park earned its first-ever victory against Ohio power Steubenville.

He won't have the assistance of the upperclassman this year when Wheeling Park opens the season against Allderdice (Pa.) at 7 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.

"We'll probably have heavier run sets, but in the same setup as last year," he said. "Now, we'll have more formations we thrown in where we have extra blockers and stuff."

The opener will mark the beginning of his junior season and the end of his busiest summer when he kept regular attendance at football camps, including Cincinnati, West Virginia, Purdue and Rutgers.

In fact, he received an offer while at the Bearcats' camp when Akron coaches got his attention near the end.

"It was crazy," he said. "I had never been in contact with them (Akron) and never got an email to their camp," Savion said. "At the end of the camp, they said, 'We want to offer you.' I got my dad, and he said, 'Are you serious?'"

He's also receiving more attention from WVU, a member of the Big 12 where Oklahoma State, Savion's father's alma mater, resides.

"I couldn't tell how interested Purdue was when I went there," said Savion, whose father was coached by the late Joe Spence, Savion's grandfather. "WVU showed more interest than I thought they would. The first time I visited there, I didn't really get shown the attention that other people did. But, this time it was way different. The coach introduced himself to me.

"That would be something to talk about for sure, if I went to WVU and faced Oklahoma State. I like Oklahoma State, too. I went to the Oklahoma State-WVU game. I like the atmosphere (at WVU) and I know how crazy the kids are at our school and I know they would be rooting for me."

His father, who coaches the running backs at Wheeling Park, has handed down his knowledge of ball security and vision Daryl Johnson had when he ran for 4,010 yards in his career at Wheeling Park. Savion Johnson also said they manage to maintain a businesslike relationship on the field with, perhaps, a little bit more energy thrown in.

"If I did something I felt was right and the running backs coach has something to say, me and him can have our opinion and it won't be like I'm talking back to the coach," he said. "We have better discussions."

Learning from his father has helped Johnson get a rapid start to a promising prep career and, potentially, college one as well - even if he doesn't lay awake at night concerning himself with what will happen after he graduates.

"I'm just happy to have an offer and people are looking at me," he said. "I really wanted one offer this summer. At least one. Once I get more, I'll start thinking about it."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

LEGION BASEBALL: Fairmont blasts Post 94 in state tourney finals http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809805 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809805 Sun, 3 Aug 2014 20:54:39 -0400


MORGANTOWN - Fairmont Post 17 scored 15 runs in the first three innings on Sunday to roll past South Charleston Post 94 in the American Legion State Tournament at West Virginia University's Hawley Field.

South Charleston managed to cut the lead to 15-11, but an Austin Norman grand slam in the ninth gave Post 17 an insurmountable lead.

Fairmont advances to the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Brooklawn, N.J. where Post 17 will face the Northeast champion at noon on Thursday.

PREP BASKETBALL: Wheeling Central's Harler commits to WVU http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809806 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809806 Sun, 3 Aug 2014 20:54:03 -0400


A weekend basketball camp at West Virginia University delivered the Mountaineers their first commitment for the 2016 recruiting class.

Wheeling Central's Chase Harler, a Class A all-state player as a sophomore this past season who led the team to a state championship, pledged after WVU coach Bob Huggins offered Harler a scholarship at the coach's elite camp Sunday.

The 6-foot-3 Harler had been courted by Marshall in the state, as well as James Madison, Winthrop and Elon.

Harler averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Maroon Knights and was dynamic in their postseason run. Wheeling Central, which finished 25-3, marched behind Harler's 21-plus points per game in the tournament and his 30 points in the double-overtime championship game against Charleston Catholic.

He's risen ever since with strong showings at summer showcases and AAU events with the West Virginia Wildcats Select.

DEREK TAYLOR: SC coach doing 'things a little differently' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809826 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809826 Sun, 3 Aug 2014 17:59:00 -0400 As the 2014 high school football season begins with its first preseason practices Monday, Donnie Mays plans to be more vocal and take more responsbility in all facets when leading the South Charleston program.

Unlike in 2013, the Black Eagles will start their first practice at 9 a.m. Monday. The team began the season at 12:01 a.m. in Mays' debut season, in which the team finished 7-4 and fell to Wheeling Park in the first round of the playoffs.

"The kids wanted to do it so we did it," the second-year coach said of last year's just-after-midnight start.

"They also wanted the wings on the side of the helmet and things like that, and we did those things. I'm a little more comfortable in the position now and I want to do things a little differently this year."

SC returns senior running back/linebacker A.D. Cunningham (see story, this page) to the lineup as well as junior quarterback Kentre Grier, junior receiver Fred Crozier and senior receiver B.J. Moore, who Mays feels is poised for a breakthrough season.

"I really think Moore is a kid you'll be seeing a lot of this year," Mays said.

As is the case each year, storylines abound across the Kanawha Valley as practice begins.

While plenty of ink is likely to be spilled on Capital senior running back Kashuan Haley and junior quarterback Tyrhee Pratt in the next 18 weeks, it is the group on the other side of the ball where Cougar coach Jon Carpenter's attention will likely be focused beginning Monday.

Haley, an 2013 All-State selection who ran for 1,637 yard and 21 touchdowns as a junior, is the the top returning rusher and scorer (144 points) in Class AAA. Pratt enters his third year as the Cougars' starter and has already picked up a scholarship offer from West Virginia.

The loss of a two key defensive linemen - Hunt Award-winner James Walton, second team All-State pick Jaisson Dyer and Duke Linzy - to graduation, however, forces Capital to retool its defensive front for 2014. The defection of promising junior linebacker Logan Priddy to George Washington poses another challenge for Carpenter's coaching staff, as well as the losses of defensive backs James Richmond and Edmund Harvey and linebackers Khalil Bush and Jonathan Pittman.

Capital has its entire offensive line as well as utility back Tyrell Davis and tight end Bryce Goldsmith returning from a team that finished 11-2 and reached the Class AAA playoff semifinals last season.

Elsewhere around the Kanawha Valley, Hurricane (6-5 in 2013) is the X-factor entering the season because of new offensive coordinator Scott Tinsley. The Redskins lost a number of key contributors to graduation, including quarterback Austin Hensley, but Tinsley's calling card has always been maximizing his personnel to create offensive juggernauts. Dylan Tinsley looks to be the heir to the Hurricane QB spot and he has at least one top-quality receiver in the form of senior Brandon Ford. With head coach Jeremy Taylor now focusing on the Redskins' defense - his own strength - this could be a season in which Hurricane takes a step forward in terms of statewide success.

George Washington (9-3) could find itself fighting for a playoff spot for the first time since the Patriots last missed the postseason in 2006. GW has an impressive line led by senior David Smith, but is otherwise unproven at the varsity level with many other facets of its offense. There is talent in the form of tight end Luther Toney and junior quarterback Kaleb Mackey, but that talent has never had to carry a team against a varsity run through the Mountain State Athletic Conference. There is a three-week series of games that could ultimately spell GW's fate, from Oct. 10 at Hurricane to a home date against an experienced Parkersburg team on Oct. 24. In between those games, the Patriots play host to Cabell Midland.

No biggie, right? Add to that stretch a season opener at South Charleston, a regular-season finale at Capital and Week 2 visit from Paul Blazer (Ky.) and if GW makes the playoffs it might be one of the better coaching performances in the 133-win career of Steve Edwards Jr.

Winfield (4-6), St. Albans (2-8), Riverside (1-9) and Nitro (1-9) are unlikely to make playoff pushes, but each has key players returning that will be worth watching. The Generals, in particular, have made subtle, yet steady, gains in coach Craig Snyder's two seasons.

As reported in the Daily Mail on Aug. 1, Sissonville enters 2014 with its best shot to reach the Class AA playoff final four in 20 years, when it played and lost to Poca in the first Super Six game played at Wheeling Island Stadium, in 1994. Led by senior receiver Houston Hill and a bevy of returning linemen, Sissonville could equal or surpass its 10-win total of 2013 this season should it stay relatively injury free.

The other small schools in the area have decidedly different prognoses entering August.

Herbert Hoover (3-7) potentially has the most potential of the three-team including the Huskies, Poca and Class A Buffalo (0-10), though the Bison return senior running back Jordan Tucker, who ran for 1,416 yards last year.

Hoover, quite simply stated, has to find a way to live up to its potential. Trenton Mahan is a three-year standout on the offensive line, and running back Shaun Dotson ran for 1,377 yards a year ago. Quarterback Tyler Americo also returns but a 36.1 percent completion rate a year ago enabled opponents to better key on the team's running attack.

Poca first-year coach Ted Stewart faces a challenge in just stepping into the shoes of the legendary Bob Lemley, who retired following a 1-9 season a year ago. The school, now one of the smallest in Class AA, has made the playoffs just twice since it won three consecutive state championships from 2001-03.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

PREP FOOTBALL: South Charleston QB has sights set high http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809829 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140803/DM03/140809829 Sun, 3 Aug 2014 17:39:14 -0400 By Tom Bragg Getting an opportunity to play Division I football was always a goal for South Charleston's A.D. Cunningham. Now that he has a grip on that dream, the Black Eagles' senior has his sights set on a standout final act to his high school career.

Cunningham, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte commit, enters his senior season as a Daily Mail preseason All-State first team selection at linebacker coming off a junior season when he was a second team All-State pick at linebacker by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association and ran for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Black Eagles.

"I look at him as a star player," South Charleston coach Donnie Mays said. "The thing he holds is the kids look up to him and that's captain and star material. The thing he has that a lot of running backs don't have is field vision. He can see number to number or sideline to sideline. He's a one cut and go guy. He's really grown in that part of his game."

Last season, South Charleston finished 7-4 in its return to the Class AAA playoffs, with the four losses coming against playoff teams (Capital, Huntington, George Washington and a first-round loss at Wheeling Park). Mays said Cunningham has been a big part of the team's offseason focus on improvement and is a leader on field.

"He's an instinctive player," Mays said. "He knows through film study the keys we go over and how to use it on the field. He can also tell you what's going on from the sidelines. He's the leader of that group. He knows how to get the ball and wants to because he can make plays. What's difficult for some kids is easy for him."

Cunningham missed most of the second half of his sophomore season two years ago after a shoulder injury early in the game against Capital. In that same game, then freshman quarterback Kentre Grier took over the Black Eagles offense in the second half and led SC to a come-from-behind win against the Cougars.

In 2013, the pair finally got to share a backfield and shined in Mays' offense.

"It's always great to share a backfield with (Grier)," Cunningham said. "He's a very good player. He's young but he's very good and he'll be very good. I was excited to play with him because I watched him work while I sat on the sidelines after I got hurt. It was amazing to watch him as a freshman lead us to that victory."

It was Cunningham's play of defense, however, that caught the eye of Charlotte. The 49ers recruited him as a potential outside linebacker, where he could join current Charlotte middle linebacker and former George Washington standout Dustin Crouser.

"It just feels like home down there," Cunningham said. "They were very welcoming and they showed me a lot of love and that they really wanted me from the day they started recruiting me.

"It's a blessing. I told my dad that I prayed to God that I'd get to play Division I. That was always my dream, to play Division I football. It came true."

The 2015 season will be the 49ers first as a football playing member of Conference USA and will provide Cunningham the opportunity to perhaps play against Marshall, where his father (former Capital standout William King) is in the athletics hall of fame and also where one of his mentors - current New England Patriots and former South Charleston receiver Aaron Dobson - recently finished his own stellar collegiate career.

"(Dobson) is a big brother to me," Cunningham said. "We talk on occasion and he just tells me to keep working and keep my head on straight and everything will fall into place."

South Charleston opens its season Aug. 29 at home against rival George Washington.

What the future holds for Cunningham and the Black Eagles remains to be seen, but Mays said he is confident in the senior's ability to lead the team and go on to do great things in college.

"The kid's just a good ballplayer," he said. "That's all there is to it."

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

LEGION BASEBALL: Post 94 advances http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140730/DM03/140739914 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140730/DM03/140739914 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:22:15 -0400


MORGANTOWN - Hurricane's Max Maxson sparked a three-run seventh inning for South Charleston Post 94 with a two-run single and coach Dave Potter's team advanced

in the American Legion State Tournament with a 4-1 victory over Elkins Post 29.

The victory improves Post 94's record to 37-2 and sends it to the winner's bracket game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's late game

between Potomac Valley and Morgantown.

Pitchers Jarod Jobst and Riley Metz held Elkins to three singles. Jobst had 10 strikeouts in six innings for South Charleston.

Alex Estep had two hits and Winfield's Jordan Clark had a double and two RBI.

Elkins' Colby Gainer, who will continue his baseball career at West Virginia State University, pitched solid innings for Elkins.

PREP BASEBALL: Cassis named baseball coach at George Washington http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140728/DM03/140729266 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140728/DM03/140729266 Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:01:28 -0400 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. ­- Former Fayetteville baseball standout Louie Cassis wasted no time in accepting the head baseball coaching job at George Washington High School, and a new face will be joining his baseball team and the football program with the Patriots.

"When Chad (Campbell) stepped down, (principal) Mr. (George) Aulenbacher approached me about the job," Cassis said. "Really, it took me about 2 seconds to think about it. He said, 'I know you're a good coach, you've been with coach (Rick) Greene now for a few years. I told him, 'Let me think about it.' Then gave him an immediate 'yes.'"

In addition to Cassis, the Patriots will add two-time Class A All-State baseball player Druw Bowen into the football and baseball mix, giving coach Steve Edwards Jr. a viable option at receiving option and Cassis a solid middle infielder and pitcher.

For Cassis' part, he takes over for Chad Campbell, who had a 162-131 record in nine seasons with one state tournament appearance (2008) during his tenure.

One year after the Patriots finished 1-23, Campbell took the reins and, in three years, they reached the state tournament semifinals.

"Chad left a great program," said the 31-year-old Cassis. "What he did there is remarkable. He left me with a great foundation. He really kind of put baseball back on the map up there at GW."

Cassis has spent the past four years at George Washington as a health teacher, who recently also became a physical education instructor. He was an assistant on coach Rick Greene's boys basketball staff. He spent time as an assistant football coach at Charlotte Latin (N.C.), where he helped coach Anthony Bilas, the son of Jay Bilas, a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

Cassis graduated from Fayetteville High School in 2001, about the time he wrapped up his baseball career in the state baseball tournament at Watt Powell Park. The Pirates defeated Moorefield 6-1 in the semifinals before dropping a 4-3 decision to Gilmer County in the title game.

Cassis earned a utility spot on the first team of the Class A All-State team after hitting .409 with six home runs at Fayetteville.

He went to West Virginia University where he eventually earned his master's degree in athletic coaching. He also had a long-term substitute job at Horace Mann Middle School after returning from Charlotte.

"I think with this being my fifth year upcoming at George Washington, it made George (Aulenbacher) comfortable with it. I live in the community. For me, it was just a chance. It's a hard school to get an opening at."

Cassis has no intentions of making any dramatic changes to the baseball program, where he said a solid foundation remains, as well as talent.

"We just have to earn it," Cassis said. "We have a ton of potential on our team. We have a great group of players. We have to earn it. At the end of the day, baseball's a game I get to teach these kids about life. Ultimately, that's the goal."

As for Bowen, he played one season for coach Benny Hopkins' football team, catching 21 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. As a freshman baseball player, he was named second team All-State with a .392 average with five home runs and 34 RBI. As a sophomore, he had a .418 average with five home runs and 35 RBI. In two years for the baseball program, coached by his stepfather Joe Craffey, the Greyhounds achieved a 41-19 record, including an appearance in the state tournament in 2013 where they fell to eventual state champion Charleston Catholic in the semifinals.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

Wasonga, a former high school football star, found dead http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140715/DM03/140719604 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140715/DM03/140719604 Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:41:21 -0400


POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. - Police in Point Pleasant say former high school football standout Allan Wasonga has been found dead.

Police say in a statement that officers responding to a call found the 21-year-old Wasonga's body Monday in a Point Pleasant apartment. The body was sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy, and Point Pleasant police have started an investigation.

Wasonga was a standout at Point Pleasant High before transferring to Parkersburg High.

As a junior in 2009, Wasonga rushed for 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns and finished second in the voting for the Kennedy Award, given to the top high school player in West Virginia.

PREP BASKETBALL: Longtime Charleston Catholic assistant takes place as head coach http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140703/DM03/140709694 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140703/DM03/140709694 Thu, 3 Jul 2014 21:28:51 -0400 By Michael Dailey CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When Charleston Catholic boys basketball coach Bill McClanahan stepped down following the 2013-14 season, it ended a remarkable 13-year run in which the Irish became one of the premier programs in West Virginia.

In those 13 years, the Irish qualified for 10 state tournaments, winning three titles, as McClanahan became the winningest coach in school history.

But McClanahan's departure also opened the door for long-time Irish assistant Matt Morrison, who was named to replace his mentor shortly after the Irish bowed out of the Class A title game in a double-overtime loss to Wheeling Central.

"Coach McClanahan built a heck of a program when he was here," Morrison said. "I'm proud and thankful that I got to be a part of that and I hope to continue his legacy and success.

"Following a legend will be tough, but I feel like I'm prepared because of the things that I learned from him along the way."

Morrison got his first taste of head coaching action as the Irish recently completed the three-week summer instructional period. Morrison liked what he saw, but knows there is still plenty of work to do in an effort to replace five senior departures from last season's team.

"We have a group that will work hard," said Morrison, an Irish assistant since the 2005-06 season. "These guys have been patiently waiting their turn as they worked their way through the program.

"I've got a group of seniors and juniors, and a few underclassmen, that are hungry and anxious to get after it next year. That's the most exciting thing for us. We've all waited for our time and we're looking forward to it.

"They certainly have a lot of pride in the program. Regardless of what people outside of those walls think, we've had a long run and a great history over the last ten to twelve years and we have a proud group of players that are ready to prove their worth."

The on-the-court transition for Morrison has been a fairly smooth, but the former Valley High standout is still settling in as the leader of the program.

"For me it's a smoother transition because of my familiarity with the kids and the program," Morrison said. "However, the biggest thing for me is being the head coach comes with a lot more responsibility.

"That's something I'm still getting used to."

Morrison also used the summer practice period to allow familiarization between his players and a pair of assistant coaches that are new to the program.

Former Riverside girls coach Scott Garretson will assist Morrison, as will former Herbert Hoover and WVU Tech basketball player Ben Shannon.

A third assistant, former Catholic middle school coach Josh Shindel, will also help with the coaching transition.

"He's my school connection," Morrison said of Shindel. "The rest of us aren't teachers, so it's good to have him in the school and he really knows the kids because he had them in middle school the last few years.

"The most important thing about these last three weeks is that I wanted to make sure that my assistant coaches got a chance to come in and get to know the kids and to let the kids get to know the coaches. It's been a great three weeks from that aspect, that's for sure."

The Irish will return only four players with any kind of varsity experience.

Those players, Hayden McCarty, Roger Burdette, Sam McKown and Ben Fairless will be counted on for leadership as the program transitions to Morrison's coaching style.

"Right now we're a work in progress," Morrison said. "As far as what I envision, good defense will always be a big part of our program and just trying to be efficient on offense by taking care of the basketball.

"I don't know what type of style we'll play yet, but I do think we're going to be a little deeper than I thought, based on what I saw these last three weeks. We've got a few numbers, and we have smart, hard working kids."

PREP FOOTBALL: Capital adds QB coach from Martinsburg http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140702/DM03/140709797 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140702/DM03/140709797 Wed, 2 Jul 2014 22:09:28 -0400 By Tom Bragg Before Capital sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt could take a snap in last season's Class AAA semifinal playoff game at Martinsburg, the Cougars were behind 14-0 and the outcome looked bleak going against the three-time defending state champions.

Capital matched Martinsburg touchdown for touchdown during the game's final three quarters, eventually losing 35-21, but Pratt's play particularly impressed one member of the Bulldogs' coaching staff.

Jarrod Furgason was Martinsburg's quarterbacks coach for the last three of the school's current streak of four Class AAA state championships, and in that time helped mold Brandon Ashenfelter, Cookie Clinton and Malik Watkins into all-state quarterbacks. Furgason has since moved to the Kanawha Valley with his wife, new Charleston Catholic volleyball coach Courtney Furgason, and and has a new protege in Pratt.

"For a sophomore on the road at the three-time defending state champion and being down 14 before he stepped on the field to lead them back," Furgason said. "That showed me a lot."

Now that Furgason had the opportunity this summer to work with Pratt rather than against him, the praise keeps coming.

"As far as rising juniors go, he's as good as I've seen," Furgason said.

That high regard carries some weight coming from Furgason. After his prep playing career at Fairmont Senior ended in the fall of 1992, Furgason became a four-year starting quarterback at Fairmont State. He spent a year as a graduate assistant with the Falcons before returning to the prep ranks in 1998 to become an assistant coach at Fairmont Senior.

While with the Polar Bears, Furgason coached quarterbacks such as Matt VanGilder, 2006 Kennedy Award winner Kyle Allard, current West Virginia University quarterback Logan Moore and Trevor Malnick (who along with Ashenfelter plays at Fairmont State, though neither are still at quarterback) before moving to the Eastern Panhandle and getting his hands on Ashenfelter, Clinton and Watkins.

So it is safe to say Furgason knows quarterback talent when he sees it, and he said he certainly sees it in Capital's Pratt, who has already received a scholarship offer from West Virginia University.

"Tyrhee has the ability to make all the throws," he said. "He maybe isn't as polished as a Logan Moore was, but he's very natural in the pocket. We're working with his footwork a little bit to refine that and make him more efficient."

Capital coach Jon Carpenter had tried to help work with quarterbacks in the past, but said it was difficult to give that job the required time and attention while also working with the rest of the team.

"The best thing about Jarrod for us, he's one of those guys that wants you to throw the football from 7 a.m. to midnight," Carpenter said. "He wants to put the pedal down.

"Quarterback coaches are like gunslingers from the Wild West. They're a different breed. It's nice to have somebody to focus their whole time on one guy or one position. In the past I've tried to do it and it's hard."

Pratt, who threw for 1,881 yards and 16 touchdowns while running for 617 yards with 12 touchdowns last season for the 11-2 Cougars, said working with a quarterbacks coach has been a new experience for him, but one that he so far enjoys.

"It helps me out just having my own coach," he said. "I haven't had one, a quarterbacks coach, and it's kind of different this year but I'm liking it, though.

"It's great. (Furgason) is a good coach. He knows what he's doing and I think I can learn a lot from him."

Capital is off the first week of the high school football season this fall before traveling to play at Riverside to open its season the next week. The Cougars then play at Princeton before opening the home part of their schedule Sept. 19 against Parkersburg at University of Charleston Stadium.

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

PREP BASKETBALL: New coach gets to know Winfield squad http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM03/140709890 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM03/140709890 Tue, 1 Jul 2014 22:53:45 -0400 By Chris Wade While a lot of high schools are using the three-week summer practice period to travel and play as many games as possible, the Winfield basketball program has taken a different approach.

Bryan England, the first-year Generals head coach, is instead spending most of his available time with the team inside the walls at Winfield High School's gym. This has allowed England and his players to get acclimated with each other after England replaced Pat McGinnis, who retired in March after 13 seasons with the program.

"We have cut down our shootouts and camps in half," England said. "We have spent more time in the gym with the kids and the staff. We've been working real hard in the summer.

"It has been really good to get them in there. We have really been focusing on the fundamentals offensively and defensively. We want to do it right and have a more solid foundation."

So far, Winfield has participated in a Rio Grande (Ohio) team camp, played in Boyd County and in the South Charleston shootout last week. On Tuesday, the Generals played in the GW shootout.

"We have been very pleased," England said. "We played three Ohio schools and a West Virginia team. In the first shootout, two coaches told me our team was the hardest working team they had seen.

"That meant a lot. You can't ask for anything more than the players coming out and busting their butts. The other stuff will come around."

England served as an assistant coach for McGinnis the past three seasons. McGinnis compiled a 210-111 record with the Generals, which included four state tournament berths and a state title in 2004.

"I learned a lot from coach (McGinnis)," England said. "He is one of the most intense competitors I've ever seen and has great discipline. It doesn't matter if he playing tiddlywinks, he wants to win.

"I learned how to run a basketball program. I've took what I've learned from my experiences from my playing days, as middle school and assistant coach here, and morphed them all into one."

England, 26, is certainly glad for the opportunity to take over the reigns of the hoops program.

"I was very excited as being a high school coach is something I have wanted to do since I was a teenager," England said. "I set a goal for myself, and to reach it this soon, I feel fortunate."

England has a clear sense of the direction he wants to instill on the Winfield players.

"Any time there is a coaching change, kids are use to one thing," he said. "I am establishing what I want to do and how I want to do things. They are going to have to get to used to that."

"We want to get up and down the court, run and score in transition. Defensively, we want to run multiple sets but we want to focus on being fundamentally sound and solid in half-court man."

Having been around the Winfield program the past three seasons, England believes that to be a huge positive for his first head coaching position.

"It will be easy as far as knowing the kids we have coming back," England said. "I was attracted to the Winfield area and got a teaching job at the school.

"I feel very much a part of the community the past three years. I have really worked hard since I've been at Winfield and tried to do all I could to help Pat as his assistant and as freshman coach as well."

Winfield is coming off a 14-11 season that ended with a loss to eventual state champ Huntington in the Region 4 co-final.

"Bear Bellomy is coming back, and will be a senior, along with Heath Diehl," England said. "They are the only two that has played a lot. We will be relatively inexperienced."

England will rely on Bellomy, one of the top scorers in the area. He was third in scoring amongst the 13 Kanawha Valley teams at 20 points per game, giving England a go-to player.

"Bear is a tremendous shooter and a big kid at 6-foot-three," England said. "He will put the ball in the basket. We will get him in a position to do that. He is going to really to help us this season."

PREP BASKETBALL: College coaches flock to St. Albans Shootout http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM03/140709891 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140701/DM03/140709891 Tue, 1 Jul 2014 22:53:08 -0400 By Derek Taylor The St. Albans Lady Dragons Shootout showed signs of continued growth during the first day of the two-day event Tuesday in St. Albans.

Along with the followers from 31 schools and 32 teams, the attendees at Tex Williams Gymnasium included more than a handful of college coaches checking out the 36-minute games, each played with a running clock. A total of 39 schools and 42 teams from West Virginia and Ohio were scheduled to play at least one day of the event.

St. Albans coach and event director Scott James said college coaches are attracted to the event because of efficiency.

"I think it does speak to the growth of it, it truly does," St. Albans coach and event director Scott James said Tuesday. "But if you look, you've got 40 teams. Each team has, we'll just limit it to eight girls. That's 320 girls that somebody gets to look at, not just for immediate need but also future need in a two-day setting in one place."

Coaches from Fairmont State, West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit, California (Pa.) and WVU Tech were spotted courtside Tuesday, with others including West Virginia State expected to attend as well.

James said part of the increase in the number of colleges attending the shootout is due to coaching movement at the college level, but that some programs have had ties to the shootout for years. The event entered its 10th year this summer after beginning as a seven-team shootout in 2005.

"Some of the coaches have spread out. Kyle (Cooper), who used to be at WVU, is now an assistant at West Liberty," James said. "He was at Wheeling last year and that was the first time Wheeling had been down. So, this is the first time West Liberty's been here. Steve McDonald from Fairmont always comes down. Kenny Osborne always comes from Concord. State's always here. UC, I don't know if they're coming or not."

Rio Grande was also scheduled to attend, pushing the number of colleges sending representatives to the shootout to about 10, James said.

"It's a great opportunity to see teams from all over the state," McDonald said. "I'm from Romney, and I believe in recruiting West Virginia first. This is a chance to see a whole bunch of teams with a lot of good players in basically a two-gym setting."

There is more that draws coaches to the shootout than the recruiting equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, McDonald added.

"That's also the best hospitality room I've seen in all my years," the Falcons coach said with a laugh in regard to the food offered to coaches and game officials. "When you combine that to all the hard work Scott James puts into this, we've been coming here since its first year. We'll come back every year," McDonald said.

Those in attendance Tuesday saw a solid number of teams expected to challenge for 2015 state tournament spots. Defending Class AAA state champion Morgantown, 2013 champ and 2014 runner-up Parkersburg South, Spring Valley, South Charleston, Cabell Midland, Huntington, George Washington and St. Albans all played games, with several of those clubs scheduled to return to action Wednesday. St. Albans uses four gyms - the school's main and auxiliary gyms, the McKinley Middle School gym and the gym at St. Francis Assisi School - to host the event.

There was more than recruiting going on. In one of the more interesting developments of the day, Class AA Tolsia topped Keyser in overtime, a result that gave Rebels coach Ric Morrone cause for optimism following an 8-15 season in 2013-14. Keyser reached the Class AA state tournament semifinals last season.

"We've got a lot of young players, and we've had a really great three weeks," Morrone said, referencing the three-week out-of-season coaching period that comes to a close this weekend.

"We've played a lot of good competition and Keyser's a really good team," Morrone said. "When you can play good teams you can work on some things and determine what you need to do to prepare for the season."

Tolsia and Marrone have taken part in each shootout at St. Albans and were part of the event's original lineup.

"We'll keep coming back until he stops letting us come," Morrone said.

McDonald said there was something unique about the shootout as well.

"We all go all over the country to see kids play, but rarely do you see this many West Virginia teams. It's such a fantastic opportunity for us and it's so well run," he said. "The thing I love about it is that Scott James does this and it benefits so many other teams. not just his own program, and that's really neat.

"When you're doing things to help other people in the game of basketball, usually good things start to happen for you, too," McDonald said.

The shootout continues today beginning at 9 a.m.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.

PREP BASKETBALL: Wait was worth it for new Capital girls coach http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140625/DM03/140629498 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140625/DM03/140629498 Wed, 25 Jun 2014 22:22:31 -0400 By Michael Dailey CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It's been said that good things come to those who wait.

For newly hired Capital girls basketball coach Ahmed Witten, it was more like good things come to those who wait and wait and wait.

After 17 years as an assistant coach in the Cougars' boys basketball program, Witten finally got the chance to run his own program after the late April resignation of then-girls basketball coach B.J. Calabrese.

Calabrese, who took over the program in 2007, stepped down with a 58-86 career mark, including 6-16 last season, after reaching the 2013 state tournament.

After applying for five other head coaching jobs throughout his career as an assistant and interviewing for three, Witten was grateful for the opportunity.

"It was a relief when I found out about it," said Witten, a 1988 Stonewall Jackson graduate. "I've had the itch to be a head coach for a while and I've been patient waiting for my chance.

"This opportunity finally came and I glad I got the chance."

Witten, who is retaining assistant coaches Susie Garrison and Jenny Setter from Calabrese's staff, likes his new team's attitude despite the limited contact he's had with them.

"The girls seem excited, but they don't know what to expect," Witten said. "I think they wanted to do something different. We're going to be a young team, with only two seniors returning, so we'll see how things turn out.

"I'm still learning names and we play our first game next week. We'll get thrown into the fire real quick and then we'll go from there. I think it will be fun."

Capital returns senior guard India Hairston and senior post player Dashia Foster from last season's squad, but more could join the program.

"There are athletes everywhere, but the kids have to be interested," Witten said of the potential prospects on the Cougars' campus. "There are a lot of thing going on in kids' lives and some things just don't interest them. We'll get out there and try to get all the kids that want to be involved, involved.

"We'll talk to soccer kids and volleyball kids and see if they are interested in playing. If they want to play and they don't know how, I'll teach them how to play."

Because of Witten's current unfamiliarity with his players, he isn't sure what style of basketball the Cougars will play, but he hopes to make the experience a positive and lasting one for his players.

"I'll adjust my style to the type of players we have," Witten said. "I have seen them play a couple of games and I have an idea of what I want to do, but for now, we're just working on fundamental drills.

"We just want to try to make the game fun, while the girls are learning to play a little basketball. I don't know what style we'll play until I see what we have to work with a little more.

"High school is supposed to be the best time of your life. You form memories for life there. If athletics is the avenue to use to get these kids to the future and what they want to do in life, then they should use it."

Witten will make his preseason coaching debut on July 1, when Capital plays Morgantown and Parkersburg South at St. Albans High.

SOFTBALL: Former Charleston Catholic standout to represent her country http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140625/DM03/140629499 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140625/DM03/140629499 Wed, 25 Jun 2014 22:22:29 -0400 By Chris Wade CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marty Wilcox has had a lot of success over the years with the sport of softball, earning accolades along the way.

The former Charleston Catholic standout just recently, though, earned her greatest recognition.

Wilcox, now a star player at Guilford College (N.C.), was invited to represent her country in a USA Athlete International softball tournament next week in the Czech Republic.

She will leave for Prague on Monday and will represent the United States against other countries including Sweden, Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic among others.

Wilcox relishes the chance to represent her hometown of Charleston, the state of West Virginia, and her country.

"I jumped on the opportunity," Wilcox said. "It's every kid's dream from little league, high school, and college to wear a USA jersey. I'm super excited. It's so surreal and it's going to be so much fun. It's a great honor. It all feels like a bit of a dream."

Wilcox is leaving the country for the first time, leaving a bit of uncertainty to the trip.

"I have no idea what to expect but I have heard nothing but good things about Prague," Wilcox said. "I don't know what the competition is going to be like, either.

"It's going to be great competing, though, and will be a cultural experience, too. I'm really excited."

Wilcox will be making the trip along with her father, John, who has been her strongest supporter.

John Wilcox was on the softball staff at Charleston Catholic all four years Marty played and was the head coach for one of the seasons.

"This is a pretty incredible father/daughter experience," Marty Wilcox said. "The softball aspect is great but my dad going with me makes it 10 times better."

Wilcox indicated her dad visits her college regularly, located near Greensboro.

"He comes down once a week," Wilcox said. "He helps me out a lot, and the other girls as well. After all the many years of practicing with me, its like he's still coaching me."

Wilcox is a standout senior shortstop/outfielder that has set multiple school records last season for the Quakers.

She set single-season school records at Guilford last year in home runs (11), triples (four), and runs batted in (51).

"It's really cool and awesome that I was able to do that," said Wilcox, of breaking the records. "There has only been so many girls to make first team all-conference in softball."

Wilcox led the All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference in triples, total bases, and RBI, earning her first team All-Conference and third team All-Region.

Along with fellow teammate Cynthia Hayes, Guilford's and the ODAC career batting leader, Wilcox and her helped guide the team to its most wins ever in a season with 29.

"We led the team to its best-ever finish in the conference (third)," Wilcox said. "She was the school's first All-American, and that is my next goal."

Guilford College has a family history of Wilcox's as Marty plays softball and her brother, Rocco, plays baseball. John was a former baseball standout there as well.

"I'm so happy with my decision to go there," Marty Wilcox said. "It has really worked out for me. Having my brother there and being able to see my dad is really important."

Wilcox is proud of her achievements since graduating at Charleston Catholic, where she also was a first team All-State selection.

"It is a really good feeling to realize how far I have come," Wilcox said. "Not many people can say they could put on a USA jersey. It's an incredible honor."

MOUNTAIN EAST: Nitro's McDonough to play baseball at W.Va. State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629598 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629598 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:52:14 -0400

from staff reports

West Virginia State University announced Tuesday that Nitro High standout Ryan McDonough has signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the Yellow Jackets.

McDonough was used mostly in the outfield this past season but played multiple positions, including pitcher, for the Wildcats during his high school career.

He was a first team Daily Mail All-Kanawha Valley selection this spring after hitting .447 and knocking in 29 runs. Nitro finished with a 24-9 record and advanced to the regional final before falling to eventual state champion Hurricane.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS: In-state recruits could be swayed by schools that can do more for the student-athlete http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629602 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629602 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:41:39 -0400 By Derek Taylor Editor's note: This is part three of a five-part series titled "Moving Mountains: How the reformation of intercollegiate athletics could affect West Virginia schools and the amateurism of the student-athlete." This story appeared in the Wednesday, June 25 editions of the Charleston Daily Mail. The series concludes Friday, June 27.

Part 1: Athletic directors, commissioners provide insight into NCAA reform, what lies ahead

Part 2: NCAA reform widens gap between D-I schools, WVU and Marshall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The NCAA board of directors meeting scheduled for August has the potential to end by introducing a vastly different landscape for college sports than the one its fans have long identified.

With the possibility for greater autonomy for the 65 schools tied to conferences tagged by the NCAA as "high visibility" being realized at this meeting, a different playing field could result insofar as the recruitment of student-athletes still in high school.

Those high visibility conferences ­- Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, Southeastern ­- could potentially gain the ability to offer all student-athletes the cost of attendance as compensation for the services provided to those schools by those athletes. One key element of this plan is that non-scholarship players would also be covered by it, allowing walk-ons to essentially go to one of those schools without an athletic scholarship, participate in the sport and still be compensated to the same degree as one receiving a scholarship.

Schools outside that high visibility designation might not be able to offer the same compensation agreement, as their budgets could prohibit those schools from offering such compensation to every student-athlete.

In the at times cutthroat world of football recruiting few players are willing speak on the record regarding their preference between a scholarship offer at smaller school or a walk-on spot in a power conference. Coaches, too, are often content to focus on what has been established rather than to speculate on what might happen in the coming months.

"Kids are walking on to Marshall and WVU already," South Charleston coach Donnie Mays said. "I don't think it's going to do much, really. I think it's good that the NCAA is recognizing that every kid should be able to eat.

"You give them the same amount of meals. It's sad that a kid that earned a scholarship gets to go out and bust his butt in a two-and-a-half hour practice and then eat, but the walk-on kid gets to do the two-and-a-half-hour practice then he's sitting at home because the school can't feed him," Mays said. "We're talking about food. Everybody needs nourishment."

A problem that makes the potential impact of NCAA changes on high school sports difficult to assess is that there is nothing concrete to use as a template for a future landscape. All that has been decided at this point is that schools are now able to provide unlimited meals to student-athletes. While that is a boon to walk-ons, high school coaches find it hard to believe it will lure future prospects away from accepting scholarship offers at the Division II or FCS (formerly I-AA) levels.

Though he preferred to focus on the reality of now rather than the possibilities of later, Mays tipped his hand at what could become a trend as early as August.

"Rich Rodriguez, when he was at WVU, said one thing that stood out to me and that was, 'We don't treat a scholarship player or a walk-on player any differently, as long as they come out and bust their hump every single day.' I thought that was tremendous," Mays said. "But at the same time, as a high school coach, I want our kids to play where they're going to get money, where they're going to get their books, their room and all that taken care of, because you know as well as I do, student loans are no fun."

The effects could vary by location. If Marshall is unable to offer the same cost-of-attendance stipend to its non-scholarship players, it is unlikely that the Thundering Herd will improve its ability to keep players from nearby schools like Huntington High, Cabell Midland, Hurricane, Spring Valley or Wayne from taking scholarship offers elsewhere. Meanwhile, North Central West Virginia could see a more significant shift in the directions taken by its college prospects after high school.

Morgantown and University high schools, for example, have produced a significant number of football players who ended up at WVU as walk-ons. Some of those players - University graduate Scott Gyorko, for instance - finished their Mountaineer careers by playing key or starting roles for the team. Gyorko was a starting linebacker at WVU in 2003 and 2004, who averaged 87 ½ tackles and 5 ½ tackles for loss in his final two seasons.

But stories like those belonging to Gyorko and Rodriguez - who became a starter after beginning his college career as a WVU walk-on after he graduated from North Marion - are rare. More eventually leave the program and remain in Morgantown as students or transfer to Division II schools to play.

There were eight players from West Virginia on WVU's 2013 roster, including walk-ons. Of them, three - Bridgeport product Wes Tonkery, Morgantown's Tyler Anderson and Fairmont Senior's Logan Moore - came from North Central West Virginia's core counties of Monongalia, Marion and Harrison. The five others were more widely scattered, with one each coming from the Kanawha Valley (Cody Clay of George Washington), the Eastern Panhandle (Justin Arndt of Martinsburg), the Mid-Ohio Valley (Michael Molinari of Parkersburg South), the Beckley area (Houstin Syvertson of Shady Spring) and the Huntington area (Elijah Wellman of Spring Valley).

Of that group only Tonkery, Clay and Wellman are on scholarship.

West Virginia University has almost always carried more players on its football team who hail from its core region than from anywhere else in the state. It's 2014 recruiting class included just one native West Virginian, Morgantown High lineman Amani Brown, and the Mountaineers already have a commitment from Morgantown's Stone Wolfley for their 2015 recruiting class, their only such commitment from an in-state player.

If WVU gains the authority to grant cost of attendance money to even its non-scholarship players, it is not difficult to speculate that representation from that core area will only increase as student-athletes opt to stay closer to home.

Morgantown football coach John Bowers has produced more than a dozen Division I prospects since taking over the Mohigans program in 2002. He said that while WVU will be a natural target destination for many in-state players under such a new template, there is plenty left to consider for each player.

"You also have to factor in playing time. Obviously, that would be the first thing that comes to mind," Bowers said. "A guy might be able to get on the field or start as a sophomore at a lot of D-II schools and maybe not until they're a junior or senior at WVU, if then. There's a lot of decisions to be made before picking a school."

Like Mays, Bowers said that financial incentives also play a significant role in where a player decides to go to school.

"The greatest thing I can do as a high school teacher and coach is to prepare kids for college and help them gain the skills necessary to get through," Bowers said. "If furthering the financial incentive to go to a school like WVU is going to get more kids in schools and stay in school, then I can definitely see it as a benefit."

Bowers also saw the possibility for prospects in his own region to stay close to home if given the opportunity.

"That may creep into the kids' minds," he said. "I can see where that could happen, definitely."

The potential for this phenomenon leads to a possible domino effect. WVU and its peers would not simply open the flood gates into their programs. A Football Bowl Subdivision program can carry no more than 105 players total, with 85 on scholarship. If a greater percentage of players from North Central West Virginia accept offers as invited walk-ons, fewer such positions would be open to players from elsewhere. 
To counteract this possibility, the selection process for invited walk-on offers could presumably become more competitive from WVU's standpoint.

A Twitter survey conducted Sunday presented the question to high school players of what was preferable: to have all expenses paid as a walk-on at WVU or to accept a scholarship to play at a Division II school. The responses showed the allure WVU has with prep athletes in the Mountain State.

"I would take the preferred walk on," Buckhannon-Upshur senior quarterback Dillon Gaudet wrote. "Would love the atmosphere of Morgantown and the fans."

Huntington coach Billy Seals also responded with an opinion that echoed the concerns of his peers.

"As a coach I would go where I could play and get the opportunity to get on the field," Seals wrote. "Hard to get kids to understand that."

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.

PREP TRACK: Poca's Buckley named Gatorade athlete of the year http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629605 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629605 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 22:41:03 -0400



CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Excellence hardly eludes Poca senior Christian Buckley, a two-time double-winner at the West Virginia high school track and field state championships, though the Dot thrower recently added an honor seldom awarded to a non-runner.

Buckley, named the Gatorade West Virginia Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, holds the attention of competitors and fans when he throws, whether the shot put or discus, and for his accomplishments, he was tabbed with the esteemed distinction. On the girls side, University graduate and West Virginia commit Amelia "Millie" Paladino claimed the award after sweeping the AAA distance running events with three meet records.

"It feels like a huge honor," Buckley said. "I'm blessed with awards like that. It's nice for a thrower to get it. I know a lot of runners have gotten it in the past, so it's nice to shine a light on the throwing events and be sort of an ambassador for the throwers."

For the second year in a row, Buckley won titles in the shot and discus at the Class AA state meet. As a junior, Buckley set a meet record in the shot with a throw of 59 feet, 7 and one-half inches, which ranked as the nation's 74th-best performance among prep competitors in 2014 at the time of his selection, according to a release provided by Gatorade.

During the regular season, Buckley dominated his competition en route to his second consecutive undefeated season, and he continued to display his excellence at the state meet. After Buckley, the next longest toss at the state championships in the shot was 11 feet shorter than Buckley's. In the discus, Buckley surpassed his closest competitor by nearly 25 feet.

Buckley, listed at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, posted similar dominance as a sophomore at the state meet, yet increased his title-winning throws by 8 and 15 feet respectively as a junior. Competitors fail to match not just the distance of his throws, but his work ethic, Dots coach John Bonecutter said.

"Christian is an extremely hard-working young man," Bonecutter said. "He is self-motivated, self-disciplined and very competitive. His level of dedication is unmatched. He is hungry for success and focused on what it takes to get to the top. He is a beast!"

While the high school season finished in May, Buckley continues to toil in the summer, competing with the hopes to once again reach the USATF National Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships in Houston, Texas. Buckley was previously named a two-time All-American in the discus.

Buckley benefits from retaining the Dots' throwing coach, his father Dana Buckley, at his disposal during the summer.

"I can say 'Hey, Dad, I want to throw some,' and he's willing to go out there and watch me," Christian Buckley said. "Like I said, I'm just blessed with that kind of setup. He can give me pointers and watch me at any time during the day and spot me in the weight room, whatever I need."

As Dana Buckley guides his son to greater heights, Christian Buckley makes the most of his improvement through reviewing tape and honing his technique.

"He constantly studies film," Dana Buckley said. "He's one of those that he just works at it to the nth degree. Every detail, he breaks down each throw that we record. A lot of it is just body position, timing and then he goes back and works on that one specific thing."

In addition to his athletic performance, Gatorade selected Christian Buckley for his academic prowess, as the honor is annually given to the athlete who combines athletic excellence with classroom achievement and exemplary character.

"He was very humbled by the award," Dana Buckley said. "Really, that was not one of the goals heading into the season, but it definitely capped the season for him."

Christian Buckley said he was flattered by the honor as he continues to push himself to greater achievements and hopes others take an interest in an event often overlooked.

"I'm blessed they looked at me," he said. "It's just nice. A lot of people tend to - I wouldn't say to ignore the throws, but maybe push them over to the side a little bit, and it's nice to shine a spotlight on it and make others take notice, and hopefully make other people interested in the sport."

Fulford leaves Huntington Prep for Missouri http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629738 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140624/DM03/140629738 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 00:01:00 -0400


Rob Fulford is headed to college.

The University of Missouri announced Monday the hiring of Fulford as an assistant coach with the Tigers' men's basketball program. Fulford spent the past five seasons at Huntington Prep, where he compiled a 138-17 record as the boys basketball head coach.

Fulford joins the staff of first-year coach Kim Anderson, who took over the Missouri program in late April.

"I want to thank Coach Anderson, (Missouri athletic director) Mike Alden and University administration for this incredible opportunity," Fulford said in a press release. "I wasn't looking to leave Huntington Prep, but after speaking with Coach Anderson and seeing his vision for the program, this opportunity was too good to pass up."

Fulford began his coaching career as an assistant at Mountain State University in Beckley. He founded the Huntington Prep basketball program in 2009.

PREP FOOTBALL: Stewart lays foundation as Poca's new coach http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140623/DM03/140629748 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140623/DM03/140629748 Mon, 23 Jun 2014 19:34:54 -0400



As step one in the process of following a football institution like Poca's Bob Lemley, first-year coach Ted Stewart plans to use his summer practice period to build a foundation in fundamentals and commitment.

Stewart, who formerly coached two seasons as a defensive assistant at Hurricane, took reign of Poca's program in April following the Jan. 9 resignation of 24-year coach Lemley, who directed the Dots to four Class AA state titles and a runner-up finish.

"Someone like Bob who has been there a long time and won some state titles and had some success, (the most important thing) is just trying to get the kids out and trying to get them to know me," Stewart said of his initial goals. "You don't really try to change things, just bringing pride in the community and try to get that team the success it once had."

While Lemley led Poca to the playoffs in 11 seasons, the Dots struggled in recent years, including a 1-9 mark last season. Poca last won a playoff game in 2006.

Among the top goals for Stewart will be to develop both numbers and effort. This summer, as Poca has participated in 7-on-7 camps at Hurricane, Marshall and Chapmanville, the team has consistently maintained 26 players in camp.

"I'm trying to get these kids to taste a little bit of success and realize being committed to the game of football," Stewart said. "I want them to be accountable for what they're doing.

"That's the most important thing, but I want to give them the opportunity to be successful not only in the game of football but life and challenges, that they want to be committed and show up."

While Stewart evaluates his players and designs schemes both offensively and defensively, the looks on each side of the ball continue to develop, but Stewart said he wants first and foremost to instill toughness.

"I want people to know that when they play Poca that they are aggressive and they are fundamental," he said. "Those are the two building blocks, and I want the kids to have fun."

"If we can be aggressive and we can swarm to the ball in every game, we have a chance in every game. Those fundamentals and being aggressive, that's the game of football right there. It is a physical sport. If you can be aggressive and fundamental, I think you have a chance every game, and if I can get the kids to buy into the system."

That system defensively figures to present a 4-2-5 look, though it can adapt to a 4-4 front.

After coaching at Hurricane and before that University, both in defensive assistant roles, Stewart brings years of experience to the Dots defense.

A 1999 graduate of Clay-Battelle, Stewart finished his high school career as a running back and helped coach the position at University. He also has experience coaching offense at the junior varsity level.

The summer practice period will give Stewart a glimpse into the team's offensive capabilities. The Dots averaged 20 points per game in 2013 and count starting quarterback Justin Stewart among returners.

"I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we're learning what we can and cannot do, and that's the one thing about the summer session," Stewart said. "The linemen are getting stronger, the kids are getting stronger, they're learning, and in the few days that we've had practice, they've had a little bit of success. We only have one 7-on-7 scheduled for (this) week, so we'll have five good days of practice and maybe we'll get a little bit better feeling for what we can and cannot do."

Systems and schemes play a role as the Dots adjust to a new playbook this summer, but most importantly, Stewart said he hopes the Poca players learn Stewart's expectations and develop a desire to commit to the program.

"I hope the kids can learn how I coach," he said. "I can be intense at times. I hope they come away learning and continue to learn and being optimistic and hopefully, the same 26 kids that are here in June are the same 26 kids that come out in August, that they're buying into the system, that when August comes around they want to put pads on, they want to hit, they want to be aggressive, they want to be better. Those are my goals."

PREP FOOTBALL: Defense, special teams highlight South's win over North in All-Star Classic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140622/DM03/140629860 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140622/DM03/140629860 Sun, 22 Jun 2014 00:43:09 -0400 By Michael Dailey There was a lot of offensive firepower on the field in Saturday night's North-South All-Star Football Classic.

But it was aggressive and opportunistic defensive and special teams efforts that stole the show for the South Cardinals in a 46-26 win over the North Bears at UC Stadium.

The South returned two fumbles for touchdowns, returned a punt for score and turned one of its two interceptions into another touchdown in cruising to its fifth straight win in the annual matchup.

The South trailed 14-13 at the half, but broke the game open with a 26-0 scoring advantage in the third quarter.

The Cardinals received the second half kickoff and promptly went 62 yards in six plays to take a 19-14 lead just 2:30 into the half on a 19-yard TD pass from former Nicholas County quarterback Tyler Sagraves to former Winfield receiver Chris Turner.

After receiving the ensuing kickoff, the North drove from its own 20-yard line to South 25, before former Wahama standout Kane Roush made the game's biggest momentum changing play.

Roush, who was named the South's MVP, forced and recovered a fumble before galloping 75 yards for a score and a 26-14 South advantage.

"I didn't know that I had caused the fumble on that hit," Roush said. "I hit him, I looked up and the sideline was like ball, ball, ball, ball, ball. I turned around and (former South Charleston standout) Khance Johnson fumbled the ball out of his hands into the open field.

"Earlier this week we worked on the scoop and score drill and it actually took place tonight."

Roush had earlier stopped a Bears drive at the South 5-yard line when he intercepted an Aaron Roberts pass late in the first half.

"It was a good night for South football, that's all I can say," said Roush, who will play collegiately for the University of Charleston. "We just came out in the second half firing on all cylinders.

"Everybody here is a great player and they knew what we had to do as soon as we hit that second half and we did it."

But Roush wasn't the only defensive play making plays for the Cardinals.

Former Woodrow Wilson standout Chase Hancock intercepted another Roberts pass later in the third quarter, leading to a 1-yard TD pass from Isaiah Kinder (Greenbrier East) to Nick Tubbs (Huntington) and a 32-14 South lead.

The scoring grab was Tubbs' second of the evening from Kinder, with the two also hooking up on a 52-yard TD in the first quarter.

Kinder led the South with 129 passing yards on 8 of 11 attempts, while Tubbs led all receivers with eight catches for 137 yards.

The South's special teams joined the second half scoring parade on the North's next possession when Malik Boatwright (Greenbrier West) picked up a rolling punt and scampered 58 yards for a score and a 39-14 Cardinals advantage.

"We felt like we were playing pretty well early on," South coach Lewis McClung said. "We dropped a couple of balls and had a blown coverage defensively, but we really felt like we were playing pretty well and things just weren't going our way.

"We just told the kids to keep plugging and the momentum would swing behind us. Kane Roush had that big play with the fumble return and they kind of seemed like the dyke broke on them a little bit after that play.

"We got some breaks in the second half. They turned the ball over and it got the ball rolling for us a little bit."

The North started the scoring in the first quarter when Zach Phillips (Wheeling Park) connected with Anthony Bonamico (Bridgeport) from 21 yards out and a 7-0 lead.

Phillips, who earned North MVP honors, led all passers with 218 yards and three scores in connecting on 19 of 27 attempts.

Former Capital standout James Walton notched the South's first special teams score when he recovered a fumbled punt snap and returned it 10 yards for a second quarter score.

"I was going to try to block it," said Walton of the bad punt snap. "Once I saw it go over his head my eyes just got big. I saw him miss it and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is my chance.'

"I just picked it up and I was just so excited. It was wish and a dream, but I didn't think it was going to happen."

Jalen Jones (Oak Hill) led the South with 32 rushing yards on three attempts, including a 26-yard TD run to close out the Cardinals' scoring.

Phillips connected with Kendall Smith (Washington) for a 26-yard TD with 1:07 to play, before Chase Banker grabbed a 19-yard TD pass from Roberts with just one second left.

It was Banker's second score of the evening, following a 15-yard TD pass from Phillips that gave the North its halftime lead.