The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 19, 2012

McClung wants Cavs to take the next step

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

— In the press box at Point Pleasant High School (which, by the way, has the nicest high school football complex I have seen in the state of West Virginia), someone referred to Greenbrier West as a “powerhouse.”

He’s right. The Cavaliers have established themselves as a legitimate player in prep football. This year’s senior class alone — Tyler Parker, Aaron Winals, Zack Johnson, Josh Bridges, Josh Martin and Zack Grossl — won 37 games, had an undefeated regular season and three trips to the playoffs, advancing to the Class AA semifinals in 2010.

Their careers came to an end Saturday with an agonizing 21-12 loss to undefeated Wahama in a Class A quarterfinal playoff game. West, which finished the year 10-2 and was rated sixth in the state, played the White Falcons tougher than any team had through their first 11 games, but two turnovers and a couple of big Wahama plays sent the Cavaliers home earlier than they would have liked.

“I’m disappointed for them,” West coach Lewis McClung said of his players in general and seniors in particular. “We wanted to make a little deeper run than we did, but I’m real pleased with the way they played. This group of seniors, they have a lot of character and have been great leaders for us.

“We hope that our junior group is going to step up and show us that kind of leadership.”

The juniors who will be seniors in 2013 — the likes of quarterbacks Malik Boatwright and Mike Goddard, running back Corey Cox, fullback/linebacker Chase McClung and linemen Chris Gabbert and Justin Hamrick, just to name a few of the 15 — give the Cavalier faithful reason for continued confidence and provide an example of why the team is a perpetual contender.

West seems to never stop reloading. From Dylan Trout, Jabez Fleming and Janeek Wiggan, to Brian Gray, Bryan Spitzer and Chris Fleming, Charmco keeps churning out talent.

At times, it seems the only thing that can stop the Cavs is the Cavs themselves.

They have only lost nine games over the last four seasons, and the last three can be directly attributed to turnovers. They proved deadly in an upset loss to Braxton County in a Class AA first-round playoff game last year, and six turnovers cost them a 29-20 loss to Buffalo this season.

Against Wahama, West turned the ball over inside the White Falcons’ 10-yard line to kill what looked to be a sure scoring drive. Another fumble near midfield came after Wahama went ahead by nine with 5:02 to play.

“Turnovers have killed us this year,” McClung said. “We typically, in years past, haven’t turned the ball over. We’re pretty reliable. But we have turned it over a few times this year, and it’s really hurt us when we have.”

That doesn’t take away from what Greenbrier West has accomplished, but McClung wants more. He wants the team’s reputation to expand beyond the PikeViews and Richwoods and Pocahontas Counties of the world.

“We continue to look for a signature win,” McClung said. “We try. We thought we had a good opportunity here (against Wahama). We fought hard but we didn’t get it.

“We’ve established ourselves in the southern part of the state. Now we want to take it to a state level where we can compete with anyone in the state.”

— E-mail: gfauber@