Although one game remains in the West Virginia high school football season, a coach of one of the final teams in Friday and Saturday’s Super Six championships is one year closer to calling it quits.
Bob Kramer, who revived the Madonna High School program beginning 12 years ago, said he wasn’t sure how much longer he was going to coach.
Friday night’s Class A state semifinal 18-7 victory over perennial powerhouse Wheeling Central might just be enough to help the former steelworker into retirement.
The 68-year-old coach took over the Blue Dons, who were on the brink of closing the program, in 1998. Since then, Kramer has compiled a 101-32 record entering his team’s third appearance in the Class A championship at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Making Madonna’s second consecutive Super Six appearance all the better is the Blue Dons had to beat the Maroon Knights, who defeated the Dons in the 2007 semifinals (47-0) and in the 2004 state championship (34-7).
The Maroon Knights had played six of the last eight state semifinals, but have missed the last two state title games.
On Friday night at Weirton’s Jimmy Carey Stadium, the No. 1-seeded Blue Dons scored with 18 seconds left in the third quarter on a Max Nogay-to-Connor Arlia 15-yard touchdown pass for a 12-0 lead. Meanwhile, the Maroon Knights, who will miss back-to-back championship games for the first time since 1998-99, converted only one third-down conversion through three periods.
Kramer, who is considered a player’s coach, will likely remain a season to see the current junior class graduate.
No. 6 Bluefield 13, No. 2 Magnolia 10 – The playoff-savvy Beavers (11-2) have made a postseason living out of upsets and meeting expectations.
The Beavers did it again on Friday night in New Martinsville in preventing the Blue Eagles from their second consecutive state championship appearance. Bluefield has back-to-back upsets entering Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Class AA state title game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Beavers topped No. 3 Sherman 25-18 in the quarterfinals before their semifinal upset. Bluefield met the Pioneers in the 2004 Class AA title game, earning a 69-24 victory. Here’s a season-by-season look at Bluefield’s recent postseason success (Just for the record, Bluefield won the first of its nine titles in 1959, winning a championship in every decade since):
1995 – The No. 3 Beavers upset No. 2 Poca to reach the championship before suffering the biggest upset in Super Six history in a 17-13 defeat to No. 16 Musselman.
1996 – No. 2 Bluefield reaches the semifinals before losing to No. 3 East Bank.
1997 – No. 1 Bluefield rolls to the state title, winning by an average of 18 points per game.
1999 – No. 1 Bluefield reaches the state finals, but falls to No. 2 Wyoming East 57-21.
2002 – No. 9 Bluefield upsets No. 8 Webster County, No. 1 James Monroe and No. 5 Wayne before falling in the title game to No. 6 Poca 27-7.
2003 – No. 1 Bluefield reaches the finals before falling to No. 2 Poca, 21-20 in two overtimes.
2004 – No. 1 Bluefield rolls to the state title, scoring 159 points in four games, although the Beavers had to rally in the semifinals to top Weir, 21-20.
2005 – No. 11 Bluefield upsets No. 6 Liberty-Harrison, defeats No. 14 Grafton and upset No. 2 James Monroe before falling to No. 4 Weir, 40-0, in the title game.
2006 – No. 5 Bluefield falls in second round to No. 4 Tolsia.
2007 – No. 1 Bluefield rolls to the state title, scoring 98 points in four games.
2008 – No. 11 Bluefield upsets Scott in first round before falling to No. 3 Wayne in the second round, 41-35.
Defending state champion South Charleston (12-1) faces upstart and unbeaten Brooke (13-0) at noon Saturday.
The Bruins are based in Wellsburg, only 20 miles north of Wheeling, so a huge partisan Brooke crowd is expected for the game, despite freezing temperatures at Wheeling Island Stadium – which also receives brisk breezes off the Ohio River.
The big school game also pits quarterbacks who are Kennedy Award candidates – Brooke senior Cotey Wallace and South Charleston junior Tyler Harris. Coming into the game, Wallace has completed 130-of-203 passes for 2,009 yards for 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also rushed for 1,038 yards with 15 scores.
Harris is 113-of-193 for 2,201 yards with 26 scores and six interceptions. He has 845 yards rushing on 172 carries and 13 touchdowns.
Rich Stevens, a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, covers West Virginia for MaxPreps.