Wahama eyes perfect season, first title vs. Madonna
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wahama showed a side in last week's semifinals that it rarely had all season.
"We did things we hadn't done all year,'' said Wahama coach Ed Cromley of his team's 10-7 win at Magnolia. "I think a lot of times we take the easy way out. We block somebody for just a couple of counts and let them go.
"These guys at Magnolia you had to block them until the whistle blew or they would get there. I think probably during the fourth quarter we played tough football against a good opponent. We outplayed them to go down there and kick the winning field goal. Our backs found a crease and not a hole and made it work.''
The third-seeded White Falcons (13-0) will need that type of effort again at 7 tonight when they face No. 4 Madonna (12-1) in the Super Six Class A championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Wahama will be making only its second appearance at the Super Six in school history. The White Falcons lost to Wheeling Central 28-14 two years ago in their first try for a title. Wahama, located in Mason County, opened in 1925.
Madonna, which last won it all in 2009 for the school's second title, is coming full circle this season. The Blue Dons honored the 25th anniversary of the 1987 squad's championship, the school's first, by changing their helmet color from blue to silver.
The White Falcons, who finished off their third straight 10-0 season, will continue to rely on a steady ground game led by junior back Kane Roush, senior back Zach Wamsley and senior quarterback Trenton Gibbs.
Roush, who hasn't been slowed down very many times this season, has rushed for 1,607 yards for an impressive 13.1 yards per carry with 23 touchdowns. He's also the team's leading receiver with 17 receptions for 257 yards and 15.1-yard average and two scores. Wamsley (1,141 yards, 20 TDs) also averages 33.3 yards per catch while Gibbs is a capable thrower (1,151, 13 TDs) and runner (576 yards, seven TDs).
"They have some great skill players,'' Madonna coach Doug Taylor said of the White Falcons. "They're going to create some challenges for us. They've got a lot of weapons. They create quite a few problems defensively. It's hard to simulate it in practice.
"They're going to be a very hard team for us to defend. We're going to have to let the game come to us. The more you see it the easier it will be to make your adjustments to it. We've played some teams similar to it. We're going to try and protect the perimeter and take away that inside run game and not let them get outside on us.''
Madonna's offense revolves around quarterback Ross Comis, who has passed for 1,466 yards and 17 TDs and is the team's top rusher with 1,563 yards and 24 scores. The Blue Dons have four receivers with nearly 300 yards each.
Travis Brown spearheads the defense with a team-high 92 tackles while Tyler Ewusiak has 81/2 sacks and 111/2 tackles for loss. Will Bowser and Comis have seven and six interceptions, respectively, from their secondary positions.
"Throughout their team they've got better players,'' said Cromley in comparing the Blue Dons to Magnolia. "First of all you've not only got to be ready for what they do, you have to get in proper position and then it comes down to can we keep up with the quality athletes that they have?
"We didn't evaluate Magnolia as being as quick as they ended up being. We had to adjust to the speed of the game and it took us awhile to do that. It's hard to say until you get out there and play a little bit.''
Madonna overcame a costly turnover in last week's 20-14 double-overtime victory at Tucker County in the semis, but Taylor doesn't think that formula will work again.
"When you get this deep in the playoffs you can't turn the ball over,'' he said. "We can't have that this week. Defensively, [Wahama is] just so aggressive.
"They're a physical football team. They put a helmet on you. We've played a couple physical teams, but I think they're going to be top on the list for us. We're going to have to make sure we're ready for that.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.
A: BY THE NUMBERS
No. 3 Wahama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Madonna (12-1)
7 p.m. today Wheeling Island Stadium