GLEEN HAYES – The Tolsia Rebels have earned the right to represent southern West Virginia in the WVSSAC Class 2A championship game against Bridgeport tonight.
Head Coach Mike Smith has done a great job turning around a program that, five years ago, was at the bottom of the barrel. Before the ‘Smith era’ the Tolsia Rebel football program had little participation and little support from the community, now the Rebels are on their way to Wheeling to face off against two time Class 2A defending champions: the Bridgeport Indians.
Smith said, “The real testament is to the kids, they turned everything around and they put in the work. They put in the extra time, and they are the ones who should be recognized for turning everything around.”
The Rebels have made the 2015 football season historical for the school and community of Tolsia High School. The team finished the regular season with a record of 9-1, almost perfect, with only one loss to Boyd County high school out of Ashland Ky. The Rebels defeated Liberty, Herbert Hoover, and shutout Mingo Central in the semi-final playoff game to earn the bus ride up to Wheeling.
“You know, everybody has kind of already crowned them (Bridgeport) the champions. We have nothing to lose here, we are going to go up there and try to get it done. I believe we have a real shot at this,” Smith added.
This will be Tolsia’s first championship game appearance since 2006. The success of this year’s season can be attributed in large part to the senior class. Quarterback Seth McMillion and running back Luke Presley have gained everyone’s attention this season. Presley has rushed for over 2,300-yards this season and McMillion has played great from driver’s seat.
McMillion said, “This is a great feeling, we are really excited that we get this opportunity to go and represent our school.”
Presley said, “This has been a great season, we set our goals and we have met almost all of them but one, and that is to win tomorrow.”
The Rebel offense and the Rebels defense have been a perfect combination this season. Instead of playing like opponents the offense and defense have played together to produce a championship worthy team. McMillion, with class, gave praise to his teammates acknowledging that it has been a team effort all season.
“It has been a lot of hard work but we stuck together and pulled through. There have been bad times and good but we are all happy we are here,” said McMillion.
“I would like to thank the coaches; coach Smith and coach Crum, they have been so great. We couldn’t do anything without our offensive and defensive linemen. They worked really hard during the offseason and we have done nothing but improve throughout the regular season, they have helped make it a great year,” added McMillion.
Aaron Hardwick, the teams center, said, “I would like to think the community for supporting us all the way, the coaches have been great, I’m very proud of how hard we played as a team this year and happy for this opportunity. I don’t think I could ever thank everyone involved enough.”
The Tolsia Rebels currently have an overall record of 12-1. This team and this year will live in Rebel history. The Championship game will be played at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Rebels are ready for their chance to bring back their first Class 2A championship to southern West Virginia.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter at the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext.2274 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @sidplaster)