Bearcats upend Colts

Bish leads Grafton to 27-6 win in Arch Coal Bowl

The Inter-Mountain photos by Tony Baisi Philip Barbour senior Noah Matlick takes a Grafton ballcarrier Friday night at George Byrer Field at BC Bank Park.

PHILIPPI — Grafton High School senior tailback Caleb Bish found paydirt four different times on George Byrer Field at BC Bank Park Friday evening to help guide the visiting Bearcats to a 27-6 Arch Coal Bowl win over Big 10 Conference rival Philip Barbour.

Bish was named Grafton’s most valuable player, while Chase Collier received the nod for the Colts. Each player was awarded a $1,500 scholarship from Arch Coal.

Though some first-half miscues and missed opportunities to put points on the board hampered PB’s performance, the Colts only trailed 7-6 when the halftime horn sounded.

“That offensive line for Grafton is better than what we thought, and they’re a much improved team,” second year Colts coach Russ Collett said. “But man, that center. If I had to vote for a player of the game, it would be their center. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they had a lot of kids that did a lot of stuff. I mean that number 33 (Caleb Bish) is a stud, I don’t doubt that.

“We have to tackle better,” Collett continued. “We do tackling stations almost every day. I think I told you the other night, if we don’t play any better than what we’ve practiced like at times, Grafton will have a great weekend, and that’s exactly what it was. You can’t go through motions in tackling drills and expect to tackle well in a game when you have to do it at full speed. That’s a thing that was a little disappointing for us tonight.

Philip Barbour senior running back Chase Collier eludes a Grafton defender Friday night in Big 10 Conference play.

“Our (tackling) was kind of disappointing, because I feel liked we moved the ball well,” Collett said. “We were inside the red zone three times and didn’t score, that’s 21 points if everything goes well. It could have been 28-27 if we did things right. I think Grafton’s coaching staff deserves a round of applause. The kids were well-coached and they did a good job. We just have to keep cleaning things up, keep looking for our first win.”

Philip Barbour found good fortune on the opening kickoff when Noah Matlick skidded it down the turf and the Colts recovered it to help squander Grafton’s initial offensive opportunity. A 39-yard punt from Will Knight then sent the pigskin back to the Bearcats.

After Grafton’s Joseph Dingledein boomed one of his efficient punts back to PB for a touchback, the Colts put the ball on the rug, and GHS pounced on it. From there, Bish crashed in from two yards out to open the scoring. Gabe Wolverton followed it up with 1 of 3 made point-after attempts. His other attempt was on line, but Collier blocked it down.

Kiyan Bartlett picked the Bearcats off later to get the ball back again, but the PBHS drive fizzled out inside the Grafton 25-yard line. Back on offense again, Damien Gonzales moved the Colts up on a third and four to go by finding Bartlett for a 14-yard gain. Then on a third and five from PB’s 47-yard line, Gonzales slung a dart to an open freshmen, Jesiah Matlick, who hauled it in and nearly took it the distance. Logan Allen then plunged into the south end zone. The PAT was no good with 4:00 left in the second quarter before the rivals headed to their respective locker rooms with Grafton clinging to a one-point lead.

Bish hammered in from 15 yards out with 5:01 on a third-period clock. Collier’s block kept it to 13-6. At the 9:39 mark in the fourth, Bish picked up his first of two 32-yard scampers into the south end zone, and sealed the deal with the latter to seal the deal a minute-and-a-half later after Grafton’s Justin Whitehair intercepted the Colts.

Collier carried the ball 25 times for 101 yards while recording seven stops at the linebacker spot. Allen had the lone touchdown for PB, and inked 7 takedowns on defense. Lincoln Mayle and Gonzales had 5 tackles each, while Nate Findley and Garrett Stalnaker each recorded three stops.

Gonzales carried the ball eight times for 23 yards. Through the air, he threw for 121 yards on 16 attempts, with two interceptions. Jesiah Matlick put up a freshman debut with four receptions for 92 yards, and a tackle for loss on defense. First-year starting punter Will Knight had a solid night with kicks resulting in no return yardage, and averaging in the high 30 yards per punt mark.

Philip Barbour will be on the road Friday at nearby Wimer Field in Elkins to face the Tigers at 7 p.m. for a Big 10 Conference scrum between familiar opponents.