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Valley High football celebrates undefeated season

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Nov. 8, Valley High School accomplished something it hasn't done since 1969: finish the regular football season undefeated (10-0).

According to the WVSSAC Week 11 football rankings, Valley ended the regular season ranked No. 3 out of 39 teams in Class A, behind No. 2 St. Marys and No. 1 Madonna (both also undefeated). At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, the Greyhounds will take on Magnolia at Laidley Field in the first round of the playoffs.

Valley's success did not come easily. The team spent its time in the weight room (even during the off-season), practicing hard and staying focused on the goal of having a successful football season. Together, the players worked hard to become stronger, bigger and faster than before.

"Making history is the greatest feeling on earth," said sophomore defensive end and left guard Asa Rowe.

"It feels pretty great," agreed Casey Stewart, a senior middle linebacker, fullback and kicker.

Senior running back Keyshawn Payne said, "We had a perfect regular season. Some wonder how and some counted us out, but I know one person that I called on every game to watch over me and my team -- to keep us safe, give us strength, keep us injury free and bless us with great wins on Friday nights -- and that was God.

"With him, all things are possible. He blessed us with a perfect season, and I know he will bless us with a great run in the playoffs."

Throughout the season, the boys have balanced schoolwork with football.

"School comes first," said senior defensive end and center Steven Mitchell. "I always set aside time to do my schoolwork. Then, after practice, I always make sure that any homework I have is done before I do anything else. I get all of my work done before any games."

When it comes to games, it's been important that the team stays motivated as well as focused.

"I keep telling myself that this is not for me, but for my family and community," Mitchell said. "The people count on me and my teammates to represent them."

"The fans and their screams as we run on the field keep me motivated," Rowe said.

"The fans cheering for us definitely pumps me up," Stewart agreed. "Hearing the crowd cheer when we make a big play or run out is a huge motivator. I try to stay motivated by going out there, doing my best and striving to become better, as well as helping my team in any given way."

"I stay motivated by wanting the win more than anyone and wanting to be remembered forever," said left offensive and defensive tackler Garren Rowe, a senior.

Whatever the playoff outcome, these boys will be remembered for their feat of an undefeated season.

As an underclassman, Asa Rowe plans to play again next year. He said he will be lifting and working out more to prepare for next season.

Though seniors Mitchell and Stewart will soon be done with high school football, they have advice for future players.

"Always work hard and never give up on what you want," Mitchell said. "Lift weights and run as much as you can. Remember when you say 'I will wait until tomorrow' because you will look up and it's a new year and you haven't even started."

"Stay in the weight room during the off-season to push yourself to become stronger," Stewart said. "Always strive to become better to be able to overcome any challenge ahead of you."


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