BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – If you are a high school football team in Kentucky or West Virginia your goal was to be playing this weekend.
That’s because the state championship games are being played this weekend in Bowling Green for Kentucky and in Wheeling for West Virginia.
The Belfry Pirates (13-1) are playing in their fourth consecutive Class 3A title game. They will be taking on Wayne County (14-0) at 4 p.m. EST, 3 p.m. CST.
Belfry made the trip up to Bowling Green on Thursday and spent the night to prepare for the afternoon game today.
Coach Philip Haywood and his staff have worked hard to get their squad ready.
“We just try to improve each week,” Haywood said. That is the usual cliché for most coaches, but for Belfry it seems to fit perfectly.
They work hard in practice and played a tough road schedule to prepare for the playoffs.
Belfry has several seniors that have been left with a bad taste in their mouth the last couple of seasons with narrow losses to Louisville Central in the finals.
They would like nothing better than to go out on top as champions.
Quarterback/cornerback Sani Warren, running backs Trenity Carr, Justin Johnson and Davontae Dari and defensive linemen Joey Duty and Hayden Hatfield have been keys to Belfry’s success for the last few seasons.
Haywood said they have provided senior leadership and set good examples for some of the younger talent on the Pirates rosters.
Other seniors on the Belfry roster include Cameron Johnson, Reed Williamson, Michael Barnres and Zack Thompson, who have all contributed, especially on defense.
‘We have blended together the older players with the younger kids,” Haywood said. “We’ve have good chemistry.”
“Our seniors work with the younger players. They let them be a part of the team. Our kids don’t care who contributes. They just want to win,” Haywood added. “They all get along very well.”
That chemistry and mixture of experienced talent with the younger players has worked well for Belfry this year.
Even freshmen have contributed this season. Cole Bentley and RayQuan Horton both see action on the defensive line as well as tight end. Safety Cameron Catron has been a factor on defense. Andrew Fletcher, another 9th grader, has seen some action at running back, while place kicker Austin Woolum has been consistent with kicking extra points and can boot field goals from the 35 yard range.
On offense Johnson now has over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He has 1,198 and has scored 13 touchdowns. Carr has 847 yards rushing and a team-high 20 TDs. Dari has 555 yards on the ground and eight TDs. Warren has kept the ball and scored 10 times on the ground while throwing for 10 TDs. Junior Keaton Taylor has been Warren’s main target with seven TD receptions.
Haywood hopes his team has one more strong game and can bring home the school’s third state championship.
So do the many, loyal Belfry fans that follow the team on the road. A big contingent of Pirate fans are expected to be at the game.
Notes: The weather for the championship game could be rather wet. A front is moving into the region that can bring a lot or rain and cooler temperatures. The KHSAA is closely monitoring the weather situation related to the football finals this weekend in Bowling Green.
At this point, the schedule remains the same, and the Class 1A (noon EST.) and 3A (4 p.m.) games, scheduled for today, December 6 will be played as planned.
… As usual the championship game can be heard on WDHR 93.1 FM.
… Austin Crank, the grandson of Bobby and Gladys Smith of Lovely, Ky., plays for Scott County. They are playing for the Class 6A state championship. Crank is a starting defensive lineman. They play Meade County at 8 p.m. EST.
… Wayne County, W.Va. will also play for the state championship tonight in Wheeling. The Pioneers, who are in the Cardinal Conference with Mingo Central, will take on Bridgeport for the Class 2A title at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Pioneers will be going for their third straight title.
… Huntington, W.Va. will take on Martinsburg for the Class 3A title at 12 noon on Saturday, while in the Class A championship game on Saturday night Madonna of Weirton will take on Greenbrier West.