by Chris Johnson
The Exponent Telegram
For the W.Va. Sports Writers Association
BRIDGEPORT — Dante Bonamico is actually a pretty good player on the offensive side of the football.
His senior season at Bridgeport ended with 1,395 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. For his career, Bonamico found his way to the end zone (51 touchdowns) more than any player in school history.
Yet, when people bring up the three-sport standout for the Indians, the talk starts with defense.
For the second consecutive year, Bonamico has been selected as the captain of the Class AA first-team all-state defense by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
The hard-hitting safety had 66 tackles, including eight for a loss, to go along with two interceptions and four pass break-ups, setting the tone for a Bridgeport defense that had six shutouts in 2015 — the most impressive coming last Friday at Wheeling Island Stadium where the Indians won their third consecutive Class AA state title with a 39-0 victory against Tolsia, setting a Super Six record for fewest yards allowed in the process.
“It’s just the mindset I have,” Bonamico said. “Defense is about helping out the guy beside you and stopping the guy in front of you from the other team at all costs. You have to have passion and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of great teammates around me.
“It’s a special feeling to be considered one of the best defensive players in the state. I’ve put a lot of hard work into the playing this game. I learned to love this game and it’s not hard to play it when you love the game.”
Also for the second straight season, Bonamico was joined by four teammates as first-team selections. Dylan Tonkery is a first-team running back for the second straight year, while on defense the Indians are also represented by defensive lineman Noah Markley and a pair of linebackers in Mackenzie Holmes and Elijah Drummond.
“To have five make first team again, speaks a lot about the program as a whole,” Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner said. “We are extremely fortunate to have some players that have had a combination of a good season and careers that have allowed them to display their skills on the biggest stage.
“The best thing about all five of them is that even though they are all deserving of making first team, if you ask any of them they will be more excited about winning three state championships.”
Markley was a disruptive force up front for the Indians, finishing with 60 tackles, a team-best 14 for a loss and forced eight fumbles. Holmes, the only junior amongst the Bridgeport five first-team selections, led the Indians with 77 tackles, while his partner at linebacker, Drummond, had 74. Both Bridgeport linebackers returned an interception for a touchdown this season, showing off the versatility that allowed Bridgeport to switch to a 4-2-5 defense when it needed to.
Tonkery led a balanced offensive attack that scored more points than any other team in Bridgeport history with 1,541 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He is joined in the first-team backfield by the offensive captain, Luke Presley of Tolsia and Robert C. Byrd’s Juwan Jones-Wright.
Presley was the driving force behind the Rebels making it to the Super Six for the first time since 2006 with 2,144 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns. Jones-Wright also topped the 2,000-yard mark, finishing with 2,116 and 32 total touchdowns as the Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals.
The most dynamic passing combination in Fairmont Senior history is represented on the first-team offense in quarterback Dom Smith and receiver Nick Davisson. Smith threw for 3,315 yards and 37 touchdowns, many of those on passes to Davisson, who caught 56 passes for 1,007 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Joining Davisson as an end on the first-team offense is Liberty Raleigh’s Jacob Bailey, who caught 73 catches for 1,164 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Both offensive utility spots went to dual-threat quarterbacks in Mingo Central’s Stevie Hammond and Summers County’s Matt Ryan.
Hammond ran for 587 yards with 22 touchdowns and threw for 2,249 with 23 TDs. Ryan ran for 1,877 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 887 yards passing with seven more TDs.
The first-team offensive line consists of Tolsia’s Cameron Nichols, Westside’s Grayson Hatfield, Herbert Hoover’s Adam Bailey, Mingo Central’s Cole Ellis and Roane County’s Garrett Burnside.
East Fairmont’s Colin Harvath is the first team kicker. Harvath made seven field goals this year, including two of 40 yards or more.
Joining Markley on the defensive line are North Marion’s Hunter Santee and Weir’s Jordan Allen 74 tackles, 12 sacks).
Other first-team linebackers are RCB’s Cole Fisher (108 tackles), James Monroe’s Trip Shiflet and Mingo Central’s Caleb Lester.
In addition to Bonamico, Bluefield’s Carlos Reed and Herbert Hoover’s Triston Hagar (52 tackles, four interceptions) was chosen as defensive backs.
The two defensive utility spots went to Fairmont Senior’s Jake Abbott and Wayne’s Logan Queen.
Webster County’s Walker Rose averaged more than 40 yards per punt to earn first-team punter honors.
Oak Glen running back Dakota Price (1,737 yards, 25 touchdowns) is the captain of the second-team offense and Keyser defensive back Amonte Turner is the captain of the second-team defense.
Class AA All-State Football Team
as selected by the West Virginia
Sports Writers Association
QB – Dom Smith, Fairmont Senior, Sr.
E – Nick Davisson, Fairmont Senior, Sr.
E – Jacob Bailey, Liberty-Raleigh, Sr.
RB – Juwan Jones-Wright, Robert C. Byrd, Sr.
RB – Dylan Tonkery, Bridgeport, Sr.
RB – Luke Presley, Tolsia, Sr. (captain)
OL – Grayson Hatfield, WestSide, Sr.
OL – Adam Bailey, Herbert Hoover, Sr.
OL –Cole Ellis, Mingo Central, Sr.
OL – Cameron Nichols, Tolsia, Jr.
OL – Garrett Burnside, Roane County, Jr.
UTIL – Stevie Hammond, Mingo Central, Sr.
UTIL – Matt Ryan, Summers County, Sr.
K – Colin Harvath, East Fairmont, Sr.
DL – Noah Markley, Bridgeport, Sr.
DL – Hunter Santee, North Marion, Sr.
DL – Jordan Allen, Weir, Jr.
LB – Trip Shiflet, James Monroe, Sr.
LB – Mackenzie Holmes, Bridgeport, Jr.
LB – Caleb Lester, Mingo Central, Jr.
LB – Cole Fisher, Robert C. Byrd, Sr.
LB – Elijah Drummond, Bridgeport, Sr.
DB – Dante Bonamico, Bridgeport, Sr. (Captain)
DB – Carlos Reed, Bluefield, Sr.
DB – Triston Hager, Herbert Hoover, Sr.
UTIL – Jake Abbott, Fairmont Senior, Jr.
UTIL – Logan Queen, Wayne, Sr.
P – Walker Rose, Webster County, Sr.
QB – Hunter Wright, Liberty-Raleigh, Sr.
E – Jacob Dingess, Chapmanville, Sr.
E – Chase Riley, Lincoln, Jr.
RB – Dakota Price, Oak Glen, Jr. (capt.)
RB – Cam Davis, Weir, Sr.
RB – Mookie Collier, Bluefield, So.
OL – Brier Anderson, Bridgeport, Sr.
OL – Jeb Evans, Tolsia, Jr.
OL – Chase Adams, Sissonville, Sr.
OL – Josh Smith, Summers County, Sr.
OL – Cole Weaver, Keyser, Sr.
UTIL – Tyler May, Roane County, Jr.
UTIL – Ryan VanMeter, Petersburg, Sr.
K – Koby Kiefer, Bridgeport, So.
DL – Dante Stills, Fairmont Senior, So.
DL – Nick Dolly, Petersburg, Sr.
DL – Noah Redmond, North Marion, Sr.
LB – Randall Maxey, Bluefield, Sr.
LB – Brody Thomas, Herbert Hoover, Sr.
LB – Grant Mohler, James Monroe, So.
LB – Michael Toothman, Fairmont Senior, Sr.
DB – Andrew Lopez, Lincoln, Sr.
DB – Amonte Turner, Keyser, Sr. (captain)
DB – Garrett Lord, Berkeley Springs, Sr.
UTIL – Seth McMillion, Tolsia, Sr.
UTIL – Tate Mayes, Nicholas County, Jr.
P – Tanner Dillon, Chapmanville, Sr.
Special Honorable Mention:
Zach Ahart, Clay County; Evan Beasley, James Monroe; Gerrod Bee, Robert C. Byrd; Alex Berry, Chapmanville; Noah Bible, Frankfort; Chris Brewer, Wayne; Gage Canan, Keyser; Kobie Carpenter, Lincoln; Ricky Combs, Chapamanville; Ethan Collins, Mingo Central; Larry Cook, Westside; Stephen Dawson, Ravenswood; Austin Dobbins, Clay County; Jason Edwards, Bluefield; Skyler Eastman, Liberty Harrison; Kyle Elliott, North Marion; Cody Enrietti, Weir; Ben Fincham, Braxton County; Bryson Gilbert, Fairmont Senior; Marcus Guy, Independence; J.T. Harris, Bridgeport; Jennings Holland, Tolsia; Trevor Holt, Berkeley Springs; Justin Hughes, Lincoln; Deonte Joplin, Mingo Central; Anthony Kellar, Lincoln; Drew Kinder, Roane County; Timmy Kitchen, Summers County; Joseph Leon, Fairmont Senior; Cody Loftus, Scott; Hunter Mason, Philip Barbour; Jacob Maynard, Tolsia; Gino Messenger, Robert C. Byrd; Chris Mills, Independence; Preston Nelson, Liberty Harrison; Brady Ours, Keyser; Blake Rose, Tolsia; Cody Stiltner, Wayne; Cody Southerly, Petersburg; Colton Stovall, Ravenswood; Chase Stover, Herbert Hoover; Luke Southern, Bridgeport; Carter Sebert-Sweeney, Nicholas County; Zachary Springman, Bluefield; Brady Tritapoe, Berkeley Springs; Hunter Vanhorn, Robert C. Byrd; Bruce Wayne, Braxton County; Christian Whittaker, Liberty Raleigh; Jared Wilkinson, Sissonville; Erik Willis, Keyser; Brody Withers, Grafton
Deonta Acord, Liberty Raleigh; Seth Arnold, Braxton County; Devin Ayersman, North Marion; Ryan Brandstetter, Independence; Chance Brown, Sissonville; Justin Burgess, Keyser; Peyton Carey, Herbert Hoover; Alex Casto, Ravenswood; A.J. Crist, Frankfort; Ryan Cunningham, Oak Glen; Alex Daniels, Independence; Cole DeBerry, Lincoln; Matt Dillon, Bridgeport; Bubba Ellis, Lincoln; Dalton Fields, Mingo Central; Seth George, Liberty Harrison; Tyler Grimmett, Mingo Central; Malik Green, Bluefield; Hunter Haddix, Bridgeport; Aaron Hardwick, Tolsia; Malik Harris, Bluefield; Cole Hoff, Roane County; Brenden Honaker, Liberty Raleigh; Gage Jackson, Robert C. Byrd; Joe Jennings, PikeView; Trenton Jordan, Herbert Hoover; Broderick Lantz, Liberty Harrison; Logan Lake, Grafton; Dale Locklear, Roane County; Tristan Nelson, Wayne; Cody Nypan, Robert C. Byrd; Peyton Ozie, Fairmont Senior; Cyle Perez, Oak Glen; T.J. Perry, Wayne; Logan Presley, Tolsia; Zach Rexrode, Webster County; Scott Riddle, Ritchie County; Chase Rose, Webster County; Andrew Smallwood, East Fairmont; Dillon Smith, Chapmanville; Jared Smoot, Keyser; A.K. Snyder, Lincoln; Donovan Spencer, Weir; Nate Strietbeck, Frankfort; Bryce Taylor, Sissonville; Michael Talley, Liberty Raleigh; Michael Toothman, Fairmont Senior; Gerrick Vollmer, Philip Barbour; Stephen Whitt, Mingo Central; Evan Willis, Chapmanville