By Chris Johnson
The Exponent Telegram
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- At the heart of every successful football team is belief in the concept that team comes before the individual.
Perhaps no program better exemplifies the idea than Wayne High School. After winning the 2011 Class AA state championship, the Pioneers were immediately tabbed as the favorite to capture the title again in 2012. They handled those lofty expectations by running the table with a 14-0 record that culminated with a second consecutive championship.
Along the way, Wayne extended the state's longest winning streak to 23 games.
The Pioneers didn't trail at any point in the 2012 season and posted three straight shutouts in the state playoff quarterfinals, semifinals and title game, outscoring opponents by a combined 110-0.
With that much team success, it's only natural that some individual honors fall into place. The Pioneers have four players that earned first-team honors on the Class AA all-state football team, announced today by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Running back Brandon Spurlock, the top overall vote getter in Class AA among writers and coaches, is the captain of the first-team offense. He is joined by teammates Grant Ferguson at quarterback, Anthony Bryant on the offensive line and Mason Hodge at linebacker. Spurlock and Bryant are seniors.
Ferguson and Hodge are sophomores.
"The best part about all four of those kids is that they buy into the team-first concept," Wayne coach Tom Harmon said. "They would be the first to tell you that they couldn't accomplish what they did without the help of their teammates. They are also four very good football players and we're excited for them to get the recognition.
"I think Brandon really showed the state what he was capable of despite missing the semifinal game and basically playing on one leg against Keyser. Grant really improved throughout the season and gave us a really strong passing game. He also had to cover every team's best receiver on defense. Anthony was a dominant force on both offense and defense, and Mason, you just don't see a lot of kids built the way he is as a sophomore."
Spurlock was the team's leading rusher, with 2,003 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Ferguson completed 63 of 188 passes for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns with just one interception, while adding 516 yards on the ground with seven TDs. Bryant was the team's leader up front on both sides of the ball. Hodge was Wayne's leading tackler.
Robert C. Byrd, which gave Wayne its closest game of the year, an 18-0 Pioneers win in the semifinals, also has four first-team selections, including defensive captain Jermodd Garrett, a linebacker.
Garrett, a Huff Award finalist, had 172 tackles, including 45 for loss and 16 sacks to help the Eagles (11-2) post their best record in school history.
He's joined on the first team by fellow senior teammates Iziah Hill at receiver, Scott Levine at kicker and Teague Wagner on the defensive line.
Hill caught only 25 passes in 2012, but finished with 555 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also added three defensive-special teams scores. Levine converted 62 PAT attempts, booted 10 field goals and had 58 touchbacks on kickoffs.
"I'm surprised sometimes that there are some out there that don't get that it's the way it has to be if you want to be any good," Robert C. Byrd coach Bruce Carey said in regards to a team-first philosophy.