A great prelude for the 2013 season

Last updated: August 27. 2013 10:18AM - 1672 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com



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Friday evening’s gathering of Boone County’s three high school football squads in Madison was quite an affair — and a great prelude for the 2013 season.


Long-time readers know I put little stock in pre-season scrimmages. Any coach or staff worth their salt is not going to show opposing teams what they really have in mind for the upcoming year. One can get a bit of an idea, though, of the individual talent level if he or she watches closely.


In the case of Friday evening, I would say it is obvious that the Scott Skyhawks remain one of the premier football programs in the region. At Class AA, the Hawks might be expected to dominate their smaller, Class A opponents and they did just that.


Beyond that, though, Coach Shane Griffith and the gang made it evident that the offensive line — a major question mark coming into the new season — is ready to step up and play some tough ball in 2013. If the Hawks look nearly as good against Double A opponents as they did with their smaller challengers from Van and Sherman, Madison-based fans are in for another great season.


Meanwhile, Van looked much improved and appeared clearly superior to Sherman. That would be a bit surprising, given the numbers for both schools. Nevertheless, anything is possible when the football is kicked in the air. My guess is that we will all be lauding the Bulldog turnaround by the end of the season.


That isn’t to say Sherman did not show ANY promise. They did look good on a couple of drives and, as I said, I would not expect them to show everything they have at an intra-county scrimmage.


All I DO know is, it’s about time to put the ball in the air and see where we go from here. It’s an exciting time throughout West Virginia, indeed.


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In my continuing quest to give recognition to West Virginians who make it big in the sports world, need I mention that Harts Creek’s Andrea Williamson was just named the National Professional Fastpitch League Rookie of the Year? The former Harts, Chapmanville Regional, University of Tennessee and Marshall star pitcher had a simply unbelievable season for her Chicago Bandit team in the NPFL.


Chicago, which recorded 37 wins this season, played for the national championship and came up just short last week. The games were telecast nationally on ESPN2.


Williamson, who graduated from CRHS in 2009, has risen to become the Bandits’ number two hurler. She was named the NPFL’s Pitcher of the Week when the Bandits clinched the top seed for the post-season tournament.


Her 9-3 record was a testament to a season that exceeded all expectations for the daughter of former Marshall basketball star Andy Paul Williamson and his wife, Beth. Her 1.67 earned run average placed his third in the league. Teammate Monica Abbott had the best ERA, at 0.93. Williamson pitched 75.1 innings and recorded 50 strikeouts along the way.


Abbott pitched the Bandits to the series lead in the opening game but they could not pick up an additional victory to claim the title on Saturday.


Williamson had quite a softball year in 2013. She led Marshall to the Conference USA title, putting the Herd in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. They won one and lost two in the tourney, as Williamson finished the year with a 33-18 record and a 1.93 ERA. She recorded a school-record 364 strikeouts.


Members of Williamson’s family watched her play several times for the Bandits this year. Mother Beth said her daughter was headed home at the end of the week. “She’s been gone too long,” said her mother.


Andi Williamson has said she plans to return to MU this fall to complete degree work. Then, she has plans to return to the mound for the Bandits next season.


Losing the championship to the Florida Pride was clearly no disgrace but Williamson has said she is more determined that ever to lead her team to the title.


A tremendous talent who works hard day-in and day-out, Williamson is just the type of young person who represents the Mountain State well. I keep reminding readers and others that it would be great if West Virginians could focus on the real state natives who do well at the national level. Instead, some fans seem much more interested in some hot-shots that make West Virginia their home briefly during college careers.


I am not saying those who play for Marshall and West Virginia University while living out of state should not be honored. But I am saying, as usual, West Virginians would rather glorify out-of-staters than their own youngsters.


Except for my concept that most West Virginians suffer from an inferiority complex because we are not really Virginians but then we aren’t anything else, either, I have no idea why folks tend to worship those who pass by much more than the youngsters who are born and raised here. Makes very little sense, really.


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Wonder why our elected officials rage about the state getting no recognition on the national level when people here fail to respect home-grown talent?


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There couldn’t be a better role model for West Virginia youth than Williamson and Scott’s own Jordan Roberts. Yet the fans glorify some ex-WVU quarterback who MIGHT make the Washington Redskin squad.


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Speaking of Roberts, the Lincoln County native who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs by way of Scott High School, was on the sideline much of the night Saturday when the Chiefs visited Pittsburgh.


It was a great chance for local fans, including Roberts’ relatives, to see him in the NFL this season. Facebook posts and texts kept fans at home posted on what was happening, although the game was telecast locally on the CW station.


Roberts, number 45 for those looking on, is working very hard — as always — during his initial season in the pros. While he has been used sparingly, some think that is an intentional move by the Chiefs to keep other teams in the league from realizing what a talent they have.


Many think the Chiefs will keep him somewhere on a roster this season to make sure he is available when they really need him.


I do know this, however, he is also an amazing talent and one of the finest young men this state or any other has ever produced. That is why I become incensed when Facebook is filled with messages extolling the virtues of former WVU players and never mentioning one of our own. In fact, Saturday evening when one “friend” virtually prayed that ex-Mountaineer Pat White make the Redskin roster, I asked if she had similar feelings about Roberts.


I pointed out that Roberts is a West Virginian, born and raised. That did not interest her, apparently. She said she was “surprised” I had objected to her entreaties for White and never did acknowledge if she even knew who Roberts is. I noted that he went to her esteemed WVU and then the University of Charleston, but if she understood it, I never could tell.


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One thing this unbiased column will always do: put genuine West Virginia players first.


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As a Marshall man, I take pride in watching Ahmad Bradshaw dazzle NFL fans but it is not the same as former Dupont High School star Randy Moss doing the same. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way but I do.


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People like White and others pass by to simply take the free education offered and all the acclaim while seldom even understanding that West Virginia exists. Old farmers across the state doff their hats and swell with pride when WVU’s out-of-staters do well. The foreigners don’t return the recognition in kind, I will assure you.


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Be at the fields this weekend for high school football. As far as predictions are concerned, I see Scott going 7-3; Van, 6-4; and Sherman, 3-7. Go to the games anyway, even if you DO already know the final outcome. I’m never wrong.


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Call or write with your story ideas, tips and rumors. Use the email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.


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