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Mark Martin's Notepad

Football happenings I would have enjoyed
November 28, 2012

Mark Martin Over time, I've seen my share of outstanding teams and players on the football field in the great state of West Virginia.

Of course, there are some I never got to see,

-The 1976 Parkersburg Big Reds flat out dominated the Class AAA playoff field during the bicentennial year. The Big Reds lost two games during the regular season but rebounded to reach the postseason (when only four teams got in) and took care of business by beating both Martinsburg and DuPont soundly for the crown.

The James Gang (named for Big Red head coach Buddy James) had an array of outstanding players – including brothers Dave and Larry Phillips. Dave, who was a senior, and Larry, who was a junior, both were honored during their careers as the Hunt Award winner in West Virginia as the state's top lineman. The two earned scholarships to Ohio State.

The catalyst of that Big Red team was quarterback Dave Manzo. He was like a magician with the football running the Big Red attack. Manzo went on to enjoy a great football and baseball career at Fairmont State College.

-The 1975 South Charleston Black Eagles were a great team that fell in the title game to the Bluefield Beavers. South Charleston's star player was one of West Virginia's all-time greatest in Robert Alexander. He was a junior that season and every school in the country wanted his services.

As most know, Alexander chose to play at WVU. That's where I got to see him in action, but it would have been great to seen No. 31 on the high school scene for the Orange and Black.

-The 1988 Charleston High team won the state championship of Class AAA in what was the school's final year of operation. Old CHS defeated Greenbrier East for the title in Morgantown. Roger Jefferson, one of the state's finest coaches, was the leader of the Mountain Lions.

The championship was the first for Charleston High since the late Frank Vincent guided three teams to state championships in 1968-70. It's the last AAA program to win three straight.

-The 1989 Capital High Cougars didn't disappoint football fans around the state when Charleston High and Stonewall Jackson merged. Stonewall also had a football championship pedigree and had last won a crown in 1986 over Brooke.

Brooke was Capital's victim that year in the AAA championship game.

-The 1972 Class AA state championship game at Parkersburg's Stadium Field has always been something I've regretted not seeing. I was in grade school at the time and living in Ripley. Jackson County rival Ravenswood had an unbelievable team that year. Fred Taylor's crew rolled through the regular season undefeated to reach the first-ever four-team playoff in West Virginia.

In Class AA, Ravenswood took on Ceredo-Kenova in the opening round at old Fairfield Stadium in Huntington. Led by quarterback Joe Fox, who would later play at Marshall, the Red Devils defeated the Wonders, 35-14, to earn a trip to the title game.

It was a title game played on Thanksgiving Day in Parkersburg. Playoff locations were a little tricky back then and there were only two places in the state (Huntington and Morgantown) that year featuring turf. Parkersburg definitely had one of the best (and still one of the best) stadiums in the state.

The venue was used for both the AAA and AA games. Ravenswood and Magnolia agreed to play the contest on a Thursday. Ravenswood survived an onslaught of Magnolia passes to win,14-6, against Lou Nocida's crew.

Magnolia threw on every down in the second half. The QB was Brian Book, who later played at Yale. His favorite target was John “Fuzzy” Filliez, who became a star at Marshall.

-A quick wish list of some coaches I would have enjoyed work – DuPont's Tom Bossie, Calhoun County's Wayne Underwood and C-K's Carl Ward just to name a few.

-Another wish is to have done a game with the legendary Ernie Saunders. I can remember my love for football beginning and Ernie did televised games on WCHS-TV. I can still see those games and Ernie's voice as Kanawha Valley Conference schools would clash.


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