As football kickoff inches closer around the country, MaxPreps forecasts the top five teams in the state of West Virginia for the 2009 season.
1. South Charleston
With 12 starters returning on offense and defense combined from a team that went 14-0 and won the AAA state championship, the South Charleston Black Eagles appear to be a good bet to lengthen their 16-game win streak and make another run at a state title. SC has one of the state’s top linemen in Blake Brooks, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound monster who earned all-state honors last year. The Black Eagles also have the best group of receivers in the state, led by the trio of Napoleon Gregory at tight end, and Perry Henry and Mo Makhene at wide receiver. Tyler Harris, an athletic junior, will be a threat as both a receiver and running back.
The Patriots have a young group, but plenty of seniors and experience along the offensive and defensive lines. Todd Battle, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive end, and Garrett Withrow, a 6-3, 245-pound offensive lineman, both rank among the state’s best in the trenches. The skill players should also be solid with Nick Britton leading the way at quarterback and Felix Mollett joining him in the backfield at running back. Britton’s favorite target will likely be 6-4, 200-pound tight end Kristian Clay. Britton, Mollett and Clay are all juniors who played on the varsity last year. Eric Davison, a senior linebacker, leads the defense along with Battle. Washington’s only two losses last year came against South Charleston with one of the defeats coming by just one point, 13-12.
The Cougars could challenge for the AAA state title this year thanks to the presence of one of the state’s best rushers in junior Keion Wright. The 5-8, 190-pound dynamo has already rushed for 2,101 career yards and 25 touchdowns and is one pace to become the school’s all-time leading rusher. The Cougars have struggled to reach the finals the past decade, but Capital lost just two games last season, close contests with Washington and Morgantown. Capital also returns one of the state’s best defensive backs in JC Morrison (5-10, 180, Sr) along with talented tight end Francis Nice and all-state kicker nominee Jarred Newhouse.
The Hawks came within a game of the AAA state finals, losing to Washington in the semifinals by the narrow margin of 19-17. Coach John Kelley’s crew could go deep into the playoffs again this year thanks to the return of 40 lettermen from last year’s 11-2 team. Steve Bohon, a potential all-state linebacker, leads the defense while Demetreas Cunningham, a 6-2, 170-pound wide receiver, is the big threat on offense. The Hawks also have a strong kicking game with the likes of Sterling Springgate.
The Mohigans are a perennial favorite in the North Central League and 2009 should be no different. Returning all-state running back Jeff Allen is one of the best backs in the state if not certainly the biggest at 6-4, 250 pounds. Allen rushed for 1,062 yards on 167 carries last year and scored 17 touchdowns. Morgantown’s secondary could be one of the state’s top units with Matt Saab (5-10, 170) at safety and Anthony Vecchio (5-11, 165) at cornerback. David Stanton helps strengthen the defense at linebacker. The Mohigans were 11-2 last year and have six starters back on offense and five on defense. Besides winning league titles in five of the past six seasons, the Mohigans also won state titles in 2004 and 2005.