CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Usually, by this time of year, the lead running back on a football team has absorbed his share of carries and bruises.
That might not be the case, however, for Bridgeport's Anthony Bonamico, who leads all players competing in this year's Super Six with 2,079 yards and 32 touchdowns coming into tonight's Class AA title game against Wayne.
Bonamico has carried the ball only 188 times this season, about 141/2 times per game, and averages a crisp 11.1 yards per carry, breaking off plenty of long gainers.
All of that indicates he might be a little fresher than most team's workhorse backs, many of whom are well over 200 carries by now.
"I'm sure a 13-, 14-game season takes its toll on a lot of guys,'' said Bridgeport coach Josh Nicewarner. "Anthony, when he gets the ball, has somewhat become a threat to score on any carry - and that's an exciting weapon to have.
"We kind of downshifted and went a little old school last week, with 12-, 14-play drives [against Bluefield], and that hasn't really been the case much this year. It was nice to get back to. We're able to spread the carries around.''
Striking the pose?
If each Kennedy Award winner provides a signature moment in the playoffs, one might have come unknowingly last week for Martinsburg quarterback Malique Watkins in his team's semifinal game against Capital.
The Cougars had momentum squarely on their side after they scored with 4:47 left, cutting Martinsburg's lead to 28-21. On the Bulldogs' ensuing possession, they faced a third-and-4 at their own 44. A defensive stop would give the ball back to Capital with plenty of time to force a tie.
Only it never happened.
The snap to Watkins out of shotgun formation nearly sailed over his head. He had to leap backward to bat it down with one hand and gain control. Bereft of any momentum, he stood flat-footed at about his own 35 with the Capital defense closing in.
Undaunted, Watkins dashed straight up the middle and barreled into the line of scrimmage. More than one Cougars defender seemed destined to take him down for no gain, but Watkins kept churning all the way to the 50, averting possible disaster and gaining the necessary yardage for a first down.
Four plays later, Martinsburg scored to ice the game.
Wayne still on the clock
Wayne coach Tom Harmon got to enjoy his team's 2012 championship for all of about 10 minutes on the Island Stadium turf before the question was posed:
You know, if you get back here unbeaten again next year, you could break the state-record win streak.
Harmon laughed at the notion then, but it's become very real now. A victory tonight for the Pioneers (13-0) gives them 37 in a row and breaks the tie they share with Class A Ansted (1970-73) for the state's longest winning run.
"Common sense will tell you it's been a millstone around our necks all year,'' Harmon said, "but it's been a nice motivating factor, to be honest.
"For our kids and coaches alike, they're not obsessed with it by any means. They try to prepare each week with a formula that works. You can't get too high on the highs or too low on the lows, or you'll stub your toe. We'll try to put our best foot forward. They're understanding that the same things that probably won for you early in the year will win now.''
There was a rumor circulating earlier this week that Harmon actually had some connections with Fayette County - home of Ansted - but Harmon said he's never lived there and didn't think he had any relatives in that area, either.
Like the folks in Ansted have said, Harmon thinks streaks like that don't get mentioned a lot while they're still going.