Bryan Davis may have been under the ground the day that the Wheelersburg Pirates’ football program won a state championship last Friday in Canton, but when the Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners knew that Rob Woodward’s club had taken home a state championship trophy, it lifted Davis’ spirit from under the ground to Cloud Nine.
And rightfully so. The 2017 version of the program, as a matter of fact, became just the second football program ever from Wheelersburg, and Scioto County as a whole, to win a state championship in football.
So with that in mind, Davis made a special trip to Wheelersburg on Friday morning, and surprised the players with a plaque with a proclamation that officially honored the 2017 Division V State Champions alongside their 1989 counterparts to conclude the All-SOC II banquet that was held at Wheelersburg High School.
“It was an honor, for us as commissioners, to honor them,” Davis said of attending. “Of course, a resolution is just a small way for us to be able to thank them for all of their hard work and dedication throughout the year. To go undefeated, 15-0, and to win a state championship is a monumental feat. All of the hard work and determination that went into that is not hidden from us, that’s for sure. We just wanted to come and show our appreciation of them representing not just Wheelersburg High School, but the entire area, for a job well done.”
As excellent as the accomplishment was, however, the support of Wheelersburg from other county schools in the Pirates’ quest to achieve the holy grail was, indeed, just as neat to take in. Posters and signs were made by Clay and Notre Dame. Social media support was shown by fellow SOC II rivals Minford, Valley, and West. East fans lined the streets to show their support for their neighbors to the east as two charter buses full of Pirates went by heading west on U.S. 52 en route to Canton. Even the out-of-county schools — in the form of Waverly — did much of the aforementioned as Wheelersburg returned home from its state championship quest.
“I can truly say that the pride that the area felt knowing that one of their own had reached that level was immense,” Davis said. “It was great to see the camaraderie between all of the schools who have supported each other in this. When it comes down to it, we’re all in this together, and we were all Pirates that day.”
Even with his busy schedule, Davis, himself, couldn’t go without watching the contest. While working at The Christmas Cave in the White Gravel Mines out in Minford, Davis and several of his friends turned into the game via live streaming.
“I was working at the Christmas Cave (in Minford), and we were watching via live stream on WiFi, underground,” Davis said. “There were several of us around, and when we saw that Wheelersburg’s Cole Lowery had recovered the fumble to seal the deal, we celebrated. It was a tremendous, tremendous achievement from those young men, those coaches, and everything that they’ve accomplished. We’re just so ecstatic for them and so excited about what those young men have accomplished.”
With Wheelersburg’s #ReachHigher quest completed, the goal is now focused on maintaining that success. And while the goal of repeating certainly will be tough with having to replace linemen Alex George, Chris Bailey, Nic Parsley, CJ Hall, Caleb Browning, Austin Johnson, Caleb Varacalli, Luke May, Jeremy Cooper, and Josh Henderson, along with Lowery, Xander Carmichael, Bryson Keeney, Eli Ruby, Mack Dyer, Allan Patrick, Cameron Howard, and Aaron Sowards at the skill position slots, the return of star quarterback Trent Salyers and Co-Division V Offensive Player of the Year Tanner Holden will assure that Wheelersburg — who returns 3,408, or 57 percent, of its 6,022 yards of total offense — will have a chance to repeat in 2018.
“That would be exciting for our area, no doubt,” Davis said. “I’m sure that there will be a lot of other teams that will be gunning for them, but from what I’ve been able to determine, they do have a lot of talent returning, and we wish them the best of luck next year.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT