WHEELING - Move over, Charleston High Mountain Lions. You've got some company at the top of record book.
Martinsburg flashed a deadly combination of speed and power Saturday afternoon, securing a spot in state playoff history with a 38-14 victory over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Cabell Midland in the Class AAA championship game. An estimated crowd of 5,500 attended at sunny Wheeling Island Stadium.
Senior quarterback Justin "Cookie'' Clinton threw for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to Cedric Brown and ran for another score for Martinsburg, and sophomore running back Trey Boyd rushed for 186 yards and two more TDs.
The win gave the Bulldogs three straight AAA titles, something that's happened only once previously since the 3-A division began 54 years ago - Charleston High took three in a row from 1968-70. There have been five repeat champs since then, but no three-peats until Saturday.
"They're all in a special place,'' said Martinsburg coach Dave Walker, "and obviously the first time is special, but they're all great. This group of guys just really worked hard. They didn't want to have any dropoff from where we've been.''
Despite their coaching staff's attempts to downplay the historical aspect of Saturday's contest, Martinsburg's players realized the opportunity they were presented.
"It means a lot,'' Clinton said, "especially to our community back in Martinsburg. We came here and we wanted to make a statement, and we wanted to make history. And you can see what we did today.''
The second-seeded Bulldogs (13-1) took control early, vaulting into a 21-0 lead moments into the second quarter and saw their first four possessions go the distance for touchdowns no matter the circumstances.
The first two scores came on short fields (37 and 54 yards) after Midland punts, but the second two were lengthy drives. Boyd burst off right tackle for 83 yards and a TD on a second-and-24 play and Boyd later capped an 80-yard march with a 4-yard run.
Midland, meanwhile, had trouble stringing positive plays together with its trademark running game and fell behind 28-7 by halftime. Three of its six first-half drives fizzled after facing calls of third-and-11, third-and-10 and third-and-11.
"It's just hard to overcome some things that early,'' said Knights coach Luke Salmons, "especially when the kids are excited. You can preach it and so on, but you can't do everything.
"You've almost got to play close to perfect against these guys. That's why they're three-time state champs. We missed some opportunities, I felt like, and you can't do that in big games.''
David Gaydosz, Midland's top runner on the season, helped his team play a more competitive second half and finished with 130 yards on 25 carries with a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs. He also completed a 22-yard pass, played a good portion of the game as a defensive back for the first time all season (making six tackles) and was selected as Midland's MVP in a media vote.