Coaching changes don’t always need time to provide results.
While Wheeling Park is mired in a 1-6 start to the 2009 season behind first-year coach Chris Daugherty a year after reaching the Class AAA quarterfinals, a team 21 miles to the north is making everybody stand up and take notice.
Brooke High School, which attained its notoriety in the 1980s under coach Bud Billiard, is 7-0 after a 27-20 victory over Morgantown at Brooke Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The victory leaves the Bruins at the top spot in the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission playoff ratings, where the top 16 teams in each class – AAA, AA and A – reach the playoffs. The top eight in each class at the end of the regular season host a first-round playoff game.
Brooke trailed the Mohigans 7-0 in the damp conditions on the natural grass in Wellsburg, but rode the storm.
"That has happened to us before," Bruney told The Intelligencer. "Our kids have responded to adversity all year long, and they did it again."
The Bruins have ridden the performance of senior quarterback Cotey Wallace. Although he was unable to generate much passing offense in the mud Friday night, Wallace – for the season – is 63-of-92 for 780 yards with eight TDs and two interceptions. He has also rushed for 583 yards on 112 carries with 10 scores.
Brooke is seeking a return to its glory days. From 1980 to 1992, the Bruins appeared in seven Class AAA championship games. They lost to North Marion in their first title-game appearance (1980), won championships in 1985, 1987 and 1990, before their string ended in 1992 with a 36-7 loss to DuPont, which was led by current New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss.
* Bruney, Brooke’s new coach, is the third cousin of well-known Martins Ferry (Ohio) High School Coach Dave Bruney. Tom is actually a 1981 graduate of Martins Ferry and served 12 season as coach at Maryville (Ariz.) High School, where he had a record of 89-43 and reached the state playoffs nine times. He was also head coach at Ashtabula (Ohio) High School and Maple Heights (Ohio) High School.
* While Brooke County’s Bruins have made headlines, a team a bit north of them has continued to impress in Class A.
Madonna High School – a Catholic school in Weirton – has not lost a game since last December, when it fell in the Class A title game to Williamstown. The Blue Dons have surrendered 22 points in seven games with four shutouts. While Madonna has rolled through its schedule, it has received criticism about a schedule that includes five teams with records below .500 and seven opponents with a combined record of 21-33. It’s the same schedule that allowed the Blue Dons to reach the title game last year, where they fell to Williamstown 23-7.
"The kids wanted to make a statement tonight that they could play with a team like this, and they did," Madonna coach Bob Kramer told the Weirton Daily Times of his team’s 33-8 victory over a well-coached, but struggling Steubenville Central team.
Madonna visits 1-7 Toronto (Ohio) this week, and then hosts Bishop Donahue (5-2) before traveling to Blacksville for a battle with currently unbeaten Clay-Battelle in a game that could determine home field throughout the playoffs.
Each division lost an undefeated team last weekend.
There are three undefeated teams remaining in Class AAA – Brooke, Fairmont Senior (7-0) and Bridgeport (7-0).
Spring Valley had been unbeaten entering last weekend, but fell to a resurgent Capital team, which lost its first two games of the season but has won its last five. In Class AA, Sherman, Wayne, Frankfort and Magnolia remained undefeated. Ravenswood’s record suffered its first blemish with a loss to Point Pleasant. In Class A, there are three unbeaten teams left after Wahama experienced its first loss of the season, 26-7 to defending Class A champion Williamstown.
The regular season concludes Nov. 6 with the first round of the playoffs to begin Nov. 13. The season ends the weekend of Dec. 4-5 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Rich Stevens, a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, covers West Virginia for MaxPreps