By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s a throwback to the days of “Leave it to Beaver,” and as rare as a black and white television set in the 21st century —- the three-sport athlete.
But the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles have a trio who are not only three-sport athletes, but are successful at what they do.
Seniors Cole Williams and Andrew Johnson, and sophomore Brent Osborne, will be looking to win their first state championship this weekend at the WVSSAC Class AAA state baseball tournament in Charleston. It will be the third chance each of them has had to bring home gold to the City of Champions this school year.
“Not many people do it. I’ve been told that by all my coaches,” Williams said. “It’s a great honor. It feels great.”
All three will be looking to etch their names in the history books following unsuccessful tries for championship gold earlier this season. All three were members of a Flying Eagles football team that was eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs in November by Martinsburg, which went on to become the eventual champion.
Martinsburg again proved to be unkind to Johnson and Obsorne as it defeated the Flying Eagles in the Class AAA championship game at the state basketball tournament in March.
Williams, who spent half of the season injured, made it to the state wrestling tournament in February, but was unable to walk away a champion.
“We all wanted to feel like it’s kind of an accomplishment for making it to the states in three sports,” Osborne said. “But we looked at our fingers and there’s no rings on them. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
“It means a lot to get a shot again,” Johnson, who is in his first year playing baseball at Woodrow. “I had a chance in basketball and didn’t succeed. I feel like God’s put me in this place, put this team in this place. I feel like I have a really good chance of getting a state championship.”
Woodrow will face a team that skipper Mark Daniel says is a “mirror image” of the Flying Eagles in Cabell Midland.
“We’re going to be seeing ourselves on Friday,” he said. “They have good pitching, good hitting, good defense, but they win with their pitching and defense. They like to bunt a lot.”
It’s been a challenge for the Flying Eagles to make it to tournament. After starting the season 0-4, they went on to finish the season 20-10, knocking off defending state champion Princeton in the process. It’s a run Daniel credits to the fundamentals of his team.
“It’s been our two mainstays: Our pitching and our defense,” he said. “If you got good pitching and good defense, you’re going to be in about every game you play. We knew all along we were going to be a good team because of those two things.”
For Johnson and Williams, this is their last chance at winning gold in the maroon and white.
“As a senior, not ever winning the state title, you’re more hungry than ever,” Williams said. “The fourth is your last shot. It’s right in front of me. I have to go get it.”
The sophomore Osborne isn’t willing to let his buddies go off to college empty handed.
“We’re just blocking out the noise and staying focused for Friday night,” Osborne said. “I mean, they call it ‘Friday Night Lights,’ and it fits well for this Friday night. So I’m excited.”
Woodrow and Cabell Midland will take the field at approximately 8 p.m. on Friday night at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
— E-mail: Jrollins@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.