Area teams look to future after setbacks

Philip Barbour, Tucker County and Lewis County faced tall tasks in the opening round of the state football playoffs.

Not too many, if any, prognosticators in the state had any of the three penciled in to advance to the second round, as each faced the top seed – and in the case of the two lower classes – the prohibited favorites to capture state titles.

Unfortunately, the scenario played out to script and all three came up short of pulling off an upset.

Valuable experience was gained, however.

Graduation will take key players, it does for every team in the state. But to play in a state playoff game, win or lose, is something the seniors will remember the rest of their lives, and the younger kids will use as a building tool for next season.

For the Colts, who gave two-time Class AA state champion Wayne some fits, standouts Dylan Johnson, Al Johnson and all-state quarterback Dillon Newman, who unfortunately missed a majority of the season with a knee injury, will graduate, along with 10 other seniors.

Curtis Bodkins and his staff overcame not just Newman’s injury, but several more to get in the postseason field. Take away a few costly mistakes, and the score against Wayne could have been even closer.

Quarterback Tyler Titchnell will return, and his play improved each week as he gained more experience.

For the Mountain Lions, to even make the playoffs was a credit to the hard work by the players and coaching staff.

To return just two starters on both sides of the ball from last season’s semifinal team and still be among the top 16 teams in Class A, is worthy of high praise directed to coach A.J. Rapp and his squad.

Tucker County will lose 10 seniors, including leading rusher Austin Zirk and underrated fullback Zach Armstrong, but a strong nucleus will return with the likes of rising defensive players Marshall Whisner and Tyler Birchland, along with several underclassmen on offense who saw plenty of action this season.

The Minutemen have become regulars in the Class AAA playoffs under Eddie Vincent, and this year was no different.

Lewis County has lost several good senior classes the past several years but still remained a contender for the postseason.

Vincent and his staff will lose the likes of Mark Metzgar, Skyler Carlton and Tyler Gump but a talented group of juniors is in the waiting to continue the winning tradition.

Over the next couple of weeks, additional high school football teams will end the season on a losing note until the three champions are crowned at Wheeling Island Stadium in early December.

Contact Joey Kittle at 304-636-2121, ext. 109 or via email at Follow him on Twitter at IMT_Kittle