Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beavers predict tough, fun game

Beavers predict tough, fun game

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories leading up to Friday night’s Class AA football championship game in Wheeling. In Wednesday’s edition: the James Monroe perspective on the game.


BLUEFIELD — The Bluefield Beavers football team put up some high-scoring numbers en route to their 12-0 record and their fifth appearance in six years in the state championship game in Wheeling.

By contrast, there’s the hard-fought 14-7 victory on Oct. 26 against James Monroe. The Mavericks will meet the Beavers again for all the marbles on Friday night after toppling previously-unbeaten Wayne High School 21-14 last weekend.

Bluefield head coach Fred Simon, asked about differences between the earlier meeting and the upcoming match, said, “There’s a lot more at stake. This one’s for the state championship, and I’m sure both teams will treat it as such. ...

“We didn’t put many on the board (against) them. They play very good defense, and throughout the playoffs they’ve done a nice job.

“They beat Wayne, at Wayne. That ought to be enough. That’s the mark of a very good football team. ... They played well, they sure did.”

Quarterback Will Cole said, “They’re probably hungry because we beat them last time. They’re going to come out ready to play, and so are we.”

The preparations were well under way on Monday afternoon to counter the James Monroe single-wing offense and stingy defense. They’d been through it before.

Simon said, “Well, fortunately, we’ve played them already, so we have an idea, just like they have an idea of what we do. That’ll make it a little easier on us (to prepare).

“We just have to play well — tackle well, and do our best to put points on the board, and play good on special teams. That’s what it’ll take.”

The players were enjoying an unusually warm afternoon of practice on the field behind the school.

Offensive lineman Cory Copolo said the trip to the finals in his senior year is special. “This team has really turned into a family, more than just a team. You’ve got everybody playing for each other, and it’s a great feeling. It’s different from previous years.”

He said previous encounters with the Mavericks have “always been a fun game for me, as a high school football player. It’s a fun rivalry, it really is. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be intense up there. We’re all looking forward to it. It’ll be exciting.”

When word arrived that James Monroe had knocked off second-ranked Wayne, “I was a little surprised,” Copolo said, “because I didn’t know what to expect. I’m happy for them — and I’m ready to go play a good football game.”

Copolo said that the Mavericks gave them “probably” the best game they’d seen this season. “They’re a very sound football team; fundamentally, they’re a good football team,” he said.

Thinking back to the relatively-low-scoring affair last month, Coppolo said, “We missed a few key plays here and there, but I feel like we’ll do a little bit better this time. We’re a little more focused, I think.”

Bluefield owns eight state championships since 1959, and has been in eight of the last 13 state title games. Simon was asked how the Beavers maintain their quality of play year in and year out.

“You have to have good coaches, (and) good players who’re willing to work and to listen. Fortunately, we’ve had that,” he said.

It’s a long way to Wheeling, where a group of civic leaders holds a multi-year contract to host the annual high school football championship games. Simon isn’t bothered by that.

“We’re very happy to be going back up there,” he said. “They treat us first class and it’s a nice place up there. It’s very nice. We’re looking forward to the trip.”

To play the game further south in the state would “probably be better for the fans,” Simon said, “but there’s nothing we can do about that. That’s what the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission has chosen, and we just have to go with it.”

Kickoff is Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph
928 Bluefield Ave,
Bluefield, West Virginia


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