"A lot of people didn't give them a chance throughout the course of the year, but to be where they are in just two years - to be in the state finals playing for a championship - Is a great accomplishment. But it's still hard. You want to win when you're here.''
Wahama, a Mason County consolidation of Waggener, Hartford and Mason (Wa-Ha-Ma, get it?) opened in 1925, but had never before won a football championship until Saturday night's thriller.
The White Falcons trailed the entire first half, and were also behind 21-20 in the third quarter and 42-35 after Madonna took the lead in overtime, scoring on the first of the teams' alternating possessions from their opponent's 20.
But moments later, Wahama's Zack Wamsley scored on a first-and-goal from the Blue Dons' 1-yard line to bring his team within one point, and coach Ed Cromley opted to roll the dice for a 2-point conversion.
Quarterback Trenton Gibbs, who also started in the 2010 Super Six loss to Wheeling Central, carried the ball across the goal line for 2 points and the 43-42 victory.
Gibbs said he felt elation for winning the title and also redemption for the loss the White Falcons suffered two years previous.
"It does feel that way,'' Gibbs said, "but ain't nothing better than this. Ever since , all we've done is have that in the back of our minds every week in practice - every single day, every game. We come out and try to be the best we can be. That way, that [losing] feeling never happens again, especially after going down to Williamstown in the final four last year.''
The exciting game produced a couple of Class A championship-game records - the most combined points for the two teams (85) and a tie for the most individual rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in the title game (five by Madonna quarterback Ross Comis).
"The other two games weren't very close,'' Cromley said. "I think this is how coaches want it.''
Cromley was asked what separated this White Falcons team from some of his other strong squads (Wahama currently carries a 31-game regular-season winning streak, producing three straight 10-0 teams).
"In the past, maybe we've had teams with better players on it,'' Cromley said, "but maybe it wasn't the right mix. And of course, different opponents were maybe tougher for us. But it's great to get in there. Any time you're here, it's a great honor. We really like this.''
That leaves Wayne as the team with an eye to the future.
The Pioneers left Wheeling Island Stadium with a 23-game winning streak (not to mention a pair of titles) over the last two seasons, the longest current streak in West Virginia.
Wayne will now be the latest team within range of the state's all-time winning streak when play begins next season. Ansted, a former Class A power that consolidated with Nuttall to form Midland Trail in 1976, won 36 in a row from 1970-73.
Three times in the last seven seasons, a lengthy win streak has been derailed, keeping Ansted alive in the history books - Morgantown's run of 28 straight ended in 2006, Wheeling Central made it to 35 in a row in 2008 and Martinsburg saw its streak halted at 32 consecutive victories earlier this season.
If Wayne keeps it going and makes it back to the Island in 2013, it could eclipse that record in the title game.
As it is, the Pioneers are the first team to take back-to-back AA championships since Poca's three-peat (2001-03).
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.