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Huntington handles Cabell Midland for spot in Class AAA title game

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Huntington entered Friday’s Class AAA semifinal against No. 5 Cabell Midland unbeaten and as the top seed, with a four-point regular-season victory over the Knights on its resume.

Despite that, the Highlanders still had the mentality of an underdog in their matchup with a nearby rival at Bob Sang Stadium.

“All we heard after the regular season game is that a lot of the reason we won was because of the referees,” veteran Huntington head coach Billy Seals said.

Seals’ team left no doubt in their second matchup of the season with the Knights, getting three rushing touchdowns and two passing scores from dynamic quarterback Gavin Lochow, while controlling the line of scrimmage in a resounding 37-15 victory.

“We get a lot of credit for our speed and athleticism, but maybe more needs said about how physical we are,” Seals said. “We did a lot of good things up front on both sides of the ball.”

The win allows Huntington (13-0) to make its second trip to the Super Six, where it will face No. 2 Martinsburg (12-1) in next Saturday’s AAA title game at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Highlanders missed out on the postseason after a 3-6 finish in 2020.

“In the offseason we were working our butts off and I could tell we were going to be a lot better,” Lochow said. “Everyone was putting in the time.”

Cabell Midland (11-2) got off to its desired start, forcing a turnover on downs and scoring on its second play from scrimmage — Jackson Fetty’s 51-yard run — to hold a 7-0 lead 2:23 into the action.

But the Highlanders, who held a significant special teams edge throughout, answered quickly after starting at midfield. Lochow’s 35-yard pass to Amari Felder moved Huntington into the red zone and Lochow reached the end zone three plays later on an 8-yard run, allowing his team to knot the game at 7.

CMHS responded with an 11-play drive, but had nothing to show for it when quarterback Ryan Wolfe was brought down for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-6 from the Huntington 15.

Two plays later, HHS went on top for good when Lochow connected with speedster Noah Waynick for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Although the point-after kick was no good, the Highlanders led 13-7 with 2:03 left in the opening quarter.

“I felt like we played our worst game and didn’t execute and they played really well,” CMHS head coach Luke Salmons said. “A bad night to play bad. It just wasn’t a great game for us anywhere.”

Huntington’s defense, which has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season, forced another turnover on downs on the Knights’ ensuing series, giving the Highlanders the ball back at their 30.

The Highlanders put together a 70-yard drive capped by Lochow’s 26-yard touchdown pass to freshman Zah Zah Jackson, leaving themselves with a 20-7 lead 6:22 before halftime.

“You can never have enough playmakers,” Seals said. “We have plenty of those.”

The Knights fumbled late in the opening half and Tyrees Smith’s recovery allowed Huntington to get the ball back on its 35 with 1:43 remaining.

Lochow connected with Waynick for 20 yards and Scout Arthur for 18 to set up a 34-yard field goal from Jonathan Aya-Ay that allowed Huntington to lead 23-7 at halftime.

But just as it did on its first series of the game, Cabell Midland put together a strong drive to start the second half, needing eight runs to cover 63 yards and scoring its second touchdown on Wolfe’s 19-yard scamper.

Wolfe then threw a 2-point pass to Chandler Schmidt, bringing the Knights to within 23-15 at the 8:29 mark of the third quarter.

A 15-yard penalty on the touchdown, combined with NaKyin Harrell’s kickoff return, allowed the Highlanders to start their first possession of the second half at the CM 45.

Four plays later, Huntington regained its two possession lead when Lochow broke outside for a 23-yard touchdown run to make it 30-15.

“I felt like we had some momentum, but we fumbled the ball around and did some uncharacteristic things,” Salmons said.

Wolfe’s incomplete pass on fourth-and-12 from just outside the Huntington 30 on the first play of the fourth quarter allowed the Highlanders to regain possession, and although they didn’t produce points, a 51-yard punt helped flip the field and put the Knights at their own 8 with 10 minutes remaining.

Three CMHS runs didn’t lead to anything, forcing the Knights to punt out of their end zone.

Starting on the Midland 27 with 7:31 remaining, Lochow covered that distance on the first play with his third TD run, giving Huntington a 37-15 lead.

The Knights had a chance to draw closer on what proved to be their final series, but Wolfe fumbled on the Huntington 1 and Jordan Price recovered to seal the verdict.

“A lot of veteran guys have played a lot of snaps for us,” Seals said. “I couldn’t be happier for our kids, coaching staff and the community of Huntington. We’ll enjoy this for 24 hours and sounds like we have to get to work on Martinsburg. Lucky us, huh?”

Lochow completed 10-of-17 passes for 226 yards, with Waynick hauling in four of the receptions for a game-high 116 receiving yards.

“We definitely felt like underdogs,” Lochow said. “The way all the state was viewing us and saying they don’t know how we beat them, all that really pushed us and motivated us this week.”

Fetty (24 carries, 135 yards) and Wolfe (19-126) each surpassed 100 yards in the season-ending setback.

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Martinsburg shuts out Bridgeport; wins 20th consecutive playoff game

— Story by Taylor Kennedy

The Martinsburg Bulldogs blanked Bridgeport 21-0 to advance to the state championship game for the fourth time in six years. It is the second time this season that the Bulldogs have shut out their opponent.

Tonight’s meeting between Martinsburg and Bridgeport was fourth all-time meeting between the two, and it was the third meeting in the playoffs.

“I don’t think we could have played much better upfront defensively,” second-year Martinsburg head coach Britt Sherman said. “The guys did a good job at controlling the line, which did not allow Bridgeport to get going.”

Bulldogs signal caller Ezra Bagant went 16-for-20 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Bryant connected with four different receivers. Hudson Clement filled the stat sheet with seven receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. 

Sherman saw how well his offense responded at Bridgeport was trying to do schematically.

“Working the ball down the field,” Sherman noted. “We took what they gave us, and we moved the ball down the field. Just getting those drives and finishing them.”

Martinsburg has poured in 139 total points through the first three games. What is even more impressive is the Bulldogs holding its playoff opponents to 28 total points. Sherman wants to see his defense continue to perform at a high rate.

“After the last regular-season game against Spring Valley, I thought we found ourselves and focused on what we needed to do,” Sherman stated. “The defensive coaches did a great job of focusing in and figuring out what we needed to do to get better. It has shown with the results the last couple of weeks.”

The Indians’ Landyn Reppert led the way for Bridgeport. Reppert ran 24 times for 118 yards. He accounted for 62 percent of the team’s rushing total. The Indians finished the game with 192 total rushing yards.

Martinsburg and Huntington will meet for the first time since 2013 when the Bulldogs defeated the Highlanders in the state championship game, 9-7.

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Fairmont Senior routs Poca 41-7 to return to the Super Six

POCA, W.Va. — Fairmont Senior jumped out to a 21-0 lead and cruised to a 41-7 win at Poca in the Class AA semifinals. The No. 16 Polar Bears (8-4) will face No. 2 Independence (11-0) in the championship game December 3 at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Germaine Lewis scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the first quarter covering three and eleven yards, giving the Bears a 14-0 lead. In the second quarter, Dom Stingo connected with Kayson Nealy on a 35-yard strike to extend the lead to 21-0.

“The defense did a good job to get us in a good place to start. The offense was able to get us off to a good start,” said Fairmont Senior head coach Nick Bartic. “Anytime you can get a good start in games like these, that is important.”

Poca answered midway through the second quarter when Brandon Moore scored on an eight-yard touchdown tote. The Dots trailed 21-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Stingo accounted for two more touchdowns on a twelve-yard run and a 25-yard pass to Nealy.

“The play of Dom Stingo, you can’t say enough about that with what he has done with this run in the playoffs. Our offensive coaches say he looks like a man possessed out there. I have to agree with them. That has gone a long way in feeding everybody’s else play on offense.”

Landen Tasker’s 35-yard touchdown run capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.

Fairmont Senior was the last team into the Class AA field but they are seeking their third title in the last four seasons.

“These guys are something. They are a unique bunch. It makes sense that they would do something unique.

“All season when we were in questionable position because of injuries or COVID, we knew we had a shot to get in there. We put it together. Even in the middle of it, we told our guys, ‘Don’t count out the Bears’. We got our opportunity and they made the most of it.”

Fairmont Senior defeated Independence in the quarterfinal round in 2020.

“Last year after we played them in the quarterfinal, the way-too-early polls that come out, they were our pick as a team to watch out for. We aren’t surprised that Independence is who we have to prepare for.”

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WVU rallies past Eastern Kentucky, 80-77

— Game story by Daniel Woods

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Facing a stiff challenge in its return to the Coliseum, the West Virginia men’s basketball team escaped an upset bid from a game Eastern Kentucky team, 80-77 on Friday night.

The visiting Colonels opened the contest on a 12-2 run behind a perfect 4-for-4 start from behind the three-point line, including two triples from Marshall transfer Jannson Williams. He led EKU with 22 points on the night.

An 8-2 run from West Virginia cut the lead down to just four with five minutes played but the hot shooting continued for the visitors as Eastern Kentucky guards sliced through the Mountaineer pressure to spark a 9-2 spurt of their own.

Coming down the stretch in the first half, the EKU lead stayed at a consistent distance, peaking at 12 with 10:16 to go before halftime. However, an 18-5 run for the Mountaineers over the next eight minutes gave WVU its first lead of the game, punctuated by a Sherman three for a 36-35 lead.

With the Coliseum on its feet, the Colonels silenced the crowd going into the locker room, scoring six of the final eight points before the break. 

As Sherman and Williams continued to trade buckets on each end to start the second half, the energy picked up for the hosts with Kedrian Johnson, Gabe Osabuohien and Pauly Paulicap sparking the defensive effort. 

Getting his most extensive playing time of the season, Paulicap pitched in a much needed 5 points and 5 rebounds while bringing the building to its feet with a thunderous second half block shortly after Sherman put the Mountaineers back in front with a trio of free throws.

While EKU maintained a narrow lead for the majority of the second half, West Virginia stayed within striking distance the continued perimeter scoring of Sherman and physical play on the offensive glass from Osabuohien, Paulicap and Dimon Carrigan.

With six minutes to play and Eastern Kentucky clutching on to a 67-66 lead, Carrigan walled up when switched onto Colonels’ guard Braxton Beverly while Malik Curry picked the North Carolina State transfer’s pocket from behind and went in uncontested for a layup to put the Mountaineers back ahead, 68-67.

Moments later, Michael Moreno answered with EKU’s 13th three-point make of the night to flip the momentum back in his team’s favor.

It didn’t stay there long.

On the very next possession, Sherman buried a three-ball of his own from the left wing to regain the advantage. After Devontae Blanton tied things up from the charity stripe, the ball went right back to the senior from Missouri City, Texas who attacked along the right baseline, got Williams into the air with a pump fake and knocked down the short jumper for the old-fashioned three-point play and the lead.

Despite a missed free throw, Osabuohien hauled in the offensive board and with the shot clock winding down, Curry banked in a clutch jumper from the left elbow to give West Virginia its largest lead to that point at 75-71.

After another tough bucket from the Old Dominion transfer, Moreno went to work in the post to cut the lead to three before WVU coach Bob Huggins used his second timeout. Facing the Eastern Kentucky pressure defense, the Mountaineers turned it over with a ten-second violation but a Blanton three fell wide of the mark. 

Following another WVU timeout, Curry sliced through the lane and finished a scoop layup on the left side to put West Virginia back ahead by five. Beverly missed from three and could not finish inside after a Williams rebound to answer.

With under 30 seconds to play, Sherman pushed the ball up the floor before being intentionally fouled, sinking one of two to set WVU’s final mark at 80 before a Russhard Cruickshank triple at the horn brought EKU up to 77.

Sherman wrapped up the night setting a new career-high with 28 points, including four three-pointers. Curry pitched in a season and WVU career-high 16 on 6-8 from the floor. Williams led Eastern Kentucky with 22 points and seven rebounds while Beverly and Moreno each put in 12.

With a new top number in his third year at WVU, Sherman said he knows this diverse offensive game has always been there and was just waiting for an opportunity like this to come out.

“When I first got here most of my stuff was catch-and-shoots because we had playmakers that could get me the ball, so I was always in a catch-and-shoot situation,” Sherman said. “But now I know a lot of people are trying to run me off the line. 

“I have this mid-range game, this post game that I like getting into. I like getting to the line. That’s how you get yourself going.”

Coming from a situation at Old Dominion where he was relied on to score, Huggins figured Curry would be able to step up in moments like these.

“When I talked to (Old Dominion head coach) Jeff (Jones), Jeff said he makes big plays and he’s made some big plays for us,” Huggins said. “He made some big plays for us today — that’s for sure.”

The Mountaineers finished a tough shooting night just 5-23 from three-point land but converted 21 points on 19 offensive rebounds. Eastern Kentucky continued its form of quality marksmanship under Marshall grad A.W. Hamilton, sinking 14 from behind the arc out of its 27 made field goals.

West Virginia moves to 5-1 on the season and returns to the Coliseum for the second of a five-game homestand on Tuesday against Bellarmine.

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Williamstown powers past Doddridge, 43-0 in the Class A semifinals

WEST UNION, W.Va. — No. 6 Williamstown (11-2) defeated No. 2 Doddridge County (11-2), 43-0 in the Class A semifinals. The Yellowjackets will face the winner of Saturday’s Ritchie County-Wheeling Central Catholic contest in the Super Six.

(Highlights by Teran Malone, Photo gallery courtesy of Ben Queen/

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Second half surge sends Independence to the Super Six, 34-20 over Bluefield

COAL CITY, W.Va. — Independence erased a 13-point halftime deficit and outscored Bluefield 27-0 in the second half to claim their first trip to the Super Six, 34-20.

No. 14 Bluefield (7-4) jumped out to a 20-7 halftime lead on the strength of a pair of two-yard touchdown runs from Ryker Brown and a 17-yard fumble return for a score by Sencere Fields. Logan Phalin had a two-yard touchdown tote for the Patriots in the first quarter.

“We just told them to quit fumbling the doggone ball. I thought we could run on them and I told them to hang on to the ball. I told the offensive line to block their hind ends off and I thought we could come back,” said Independence head coach John Lilly.

No. 2 Independence (11-0) erased the deficit by the end of the third quarter after a pair of touchdown runs from senior Atticus Goodson. The scoring runs covered eleven and nine yards. The game was tied 20-20 at the end of the third quarter.

The Patriots took their first lead of the game on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Cyrus Goodson returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown, giving IHS a 27-20 lead. After a defensive stop, Independence scored their fourth touchdown of the half when Atticus Goodson found the end zone for the third time on a seven-yard run.

“It was a great performance by our seniors. Our two seniors, Logan [Phalin] and Atticus [Goodson], I just told them to leave it on the field. They did a heck of a job. I love my team. Everybody said we didn’t play anybody. Well, we played somebody now.”

Independence is headed to the Class AA state championship game December 3 at Wheeling Island Stadium. They await the winner of tonight’s semifinal between No. 16 Fairmont Senior and No. 5 Poca.

“We beat one of the best teams in the state. Coach [Fred] Simon does such a great job. It is a great honor for us to do this today.

“Right now, I am kind of speechless. I don’t know what to say other than I love my team and I love this community. We worked really hard to get here.”

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Westover considering plans for pandemic relief funds

WESTOVER, W.Va. — Officials are moving forward with plans to use American Rescue plan money to improve Holland Avenue in Westover.

Mayor Dave Johnson said they’ll use 100% of their $1.7 million in ARP money and possibly use money from the the recently passed infrastructure bill to complete the work.

Westover Council will work with the Region 6 Planning and Development Council to bring the project together. The council is funded partially by the Appalachian Regional Commission and typically defrays their expenses by charging 3-percent of the project value.

Region 6 Executive Director Sheena Hunt said they can help the town identify and pursue grant funding streams for specific portions of the project. Additionally, Hunt said they can help with project compliance along the way.

“Working with the engineer putting applications together, doing the administration of the finances throughout the project and working with the agencies closing out the project,” Hunt said.

The earliest work could start on the project is the spring of 2022.

“The bottom of Holland Avenue when you’re going toward the bridge, that wide spot by the old glass shop, it’s going to start right there and go all the way to the top of the hill and possibly down the other side,” Johnson said.

City Attorney Tim Stranko urged council members to evaluate all options and take advantage of the influx of relief and new infrastructure spending from Washington D.C.

“We can go as broad as making this a gateway into the city by addressing lights and aesthetics,” Stranko said. “There a lot of options that may be in front of us, and may be grant funded, but we don’t know that. But, Sheena and her staff we can navigate that.”

This project would include new storm sewer, some retaining wall repair and sanitary sewer service replacement. Approximately one-third of the sanitary sewer connections in city limits are along the proposed project area, according to Johnson.

“So, what we’re trying to do now is get all the infrastructure done, get the road in the condition we can pave it, fix some of the walls on the way up and that’s the project,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes growth trends will continue and the city will have future spending power to do more infrastructure projects.

“It’s long overdue, but we’ve been busy with all the annexations we’ve done,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get to a point where we can fund a lot of these projects ourselves, and we’re getting close.”

The Region 6 Planning and Development Council will return with more information for council members at the next scheduled meeting.

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Western Kentucky at Marshall: What to watch for

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall and Western Kentucky will be playing for plenty at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The winner of the Thundering Herd and Hilltoppers will be the Conference USA East Division Champion and travel to San Antonio next week to face nationally-ranked and West Division champion UTSA on December 3 in the C-USA championship game at the Alamodome.

Saturday’s contest at Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be shown on CBS Sports Network.

Marshall (7-4, 5-2) is coming off a strong 49-28 road win at Charlotte, while the Hilltoppers (7-4, 6-1) wrapped up the home portion of their schedule last week with a 52-17 win over Florida Atlantic.

Marshall leads the all-time series 8-4 and won last year’s game in Bowling Green, Kentucky, 38-14.

Tyson Helton is in his third season as head coach at WKU and has a 21-15 overall record, but has yet to beat Marshall in two tries.

Here are three things to watch for in Saturday’s game:

How does Marshall’s defense hold up?

Marshall’s defense is ranked 66th nationally, but the Herd’s pass defense is among the nation’s best at No. 16, thanks in large part to a solid pass rush and veteran safeties and cornerbacks.

The unit gets the ultimate test this week in slowing down Western Kentucky’s pass-happy attack, led by two Houston Baptist transfers — senior quarterback Bailey Zappe and junior receiver Jerreth Sterns, a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the top receiver in college football annually.

Zappe’s thrown for 4,640 yards this season with 48 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Zappe averages 458.3 yards per game through the air, which is No. 1 in college football.

Sterns’ numbers are equally impressive with 123 catches and 1,511  yards (both tops in the nation) and 12 touchdowns.

Western has another 1,000-yard receiver in Mitchell Tinsley, who has caught 62 passes and scored 10 times.

“First of all, defensively, we have to get lined up,” first-year Marshall head coach Charles Huff said. “They play with tempo, so we have to get lined up so we don’t give any ‘gimmes’ away; that’s the first thing. Get lined up, get where you’re supposed to be. The second thing is, we need to have unbelievable gap control because it starts up front. [Zappe] does a really good job at moving in the pocket.”

What a rush

Marshall freshman running back Rasheen Ali passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in last Saturday’s win at Charlotte.

Ali took advantage of a porous 49ers’ defense by rushing for 203 yards and three touchdowns.

Junior back Sheldon Evans chipped in with 68 yards and two scores as the Herd piled up 321 yards on the ground, complemented by redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells’ 267-yard, two touchdown passing performance.

WKU utilizes more of a pass-oriented attack.

The Hilltoppers’ top rushers have gained fewer than 400 yards on the season, led by Noah Whittington’s 383 on 76 carries. Adam Cofield has 348 yards and four touchdowns.

It will be important for Ali to have a big day for Marshall in order to keep Zappe and the Hilltoppers’ offense off of the field.

WKU’s rush defense is seventh in Conference USA, but the Hilltoppers are ranked well below Marshall in total defense.

Huff says the matchups are interesting to examine, but it boils down to which squad exceeds at basic complementary football.

“They have a really good offense, we have a really good offense, their defense is playing really well, our defense is playing really well,” he said. “So it comes down to who executes the best, who’s the most consistent, who can eliminate self-inflicted wounds, the turnovers, the missed assignments, missed tackles. A tremendous challenge.”

A leg up for WKU?

Western Kentucky features two weapons in its kicking game in sophomore kicker Brayden Narvesen and senior punter John Haggerty.

Narvesen has been busy this fall, as he’s 16 for 18 on field goals and a perfect 56 for 56 on extra points. Narvesen’s longest made kick of the year is from 43 yards.

Haggerty averages 49.8 yards per punt and he has a long of 67 yards.

He’s placed nine punts inside the 20-yard line and none of his punts have been blocked.

The numbers for Marshall’s kickers aren’t so impressive, but they’re no less solid.

Sophomore Shane Ciucci is 6 for 9 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. Ciucci is a perfect 35 of 35 on extra points.

MU senior punter Robert LeFevre averages 40.5 yards per boot with a long of 61 yards. Six of LeFevre’s punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line.

Senior Andrew Sanders, the Herd’s kickoff specialist, has drilled 29 of his 58 kickoffs for touchbacks.

Marshall may have an advantage in the return game thanks to the recent strong performances of freshman Jayden Harrison and senior Willie Johnson.

Helton hopes to see quality attention to detail from his team and hopes to see his group not add pressure in an all-important game.

“We get to game time and the ball is kicked off, it’s just another game,” Helton said. “We just have to keep that mentality more than anything. That’s kind of how we operate best. Don’t look past anything, don’t really talk about the what-ifs and all those things, just go out there and do our job.”


Marshall officials say 20 seniors will be honored before Saturday’s game, but 14 of those seniors will have the option to return to the Herd in 2022 due to Covid-19 eligibility rules the last two seasons … Ali is showing the way nationally in many NCAA statistical categories. He’s No. 1 in total touchdowns (22), rushing touchdowns (20), points scored (132) and points per game (12). He’s 13th nationally in rushing yards (1,142) and 15th in rushing yards per game (103.8). His 20 rushing touchdowns this season are now fourth on Marshall’s all-time single-season list, behind only 1940 All-American Jackie Hunt’s 26 and the 23 earned by Chris Parker in 1993 and 1994. Ali’s 22 total touchdowns are now sixth on Marshall’s all-time single-season list, behind only Randy Moss (29 in 1996), Hunt (27 in 1940), Moss again (26 in 1997) and the 24 by Parker in 1993 and 1994.

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McKowen appointed Contemporary American Theater Festival producing artistic director

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — After a 30-year run by her predecessor, Peggy McKowen has been unanimously appointed as the Producing Artistic Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University.

Peggy McKowen

McKowen has been acting in the role since September when the founder of CATF Ed Herendeen retired.

For McKowen, who has been with the festival for fifteen years, it’s a chance to build on the foundation Herendeen laid.

“I do hope we can do some things that focus a little bit more on the development of this work,” she said. “We’ve done really exceptional work producing, but to really give the playwrights and other artists the opportunity to further develop the scripts before they get into production I think could be a really exciting thing for us to be doing as kind of an incubator.”

McKowen said it would also like to see the reach of the festival go further.

“Find ways that we can share this work, because I think it is so meaningful to this industry. How can we do a residency in another theatre somewhere and share a play that we feel more audiences need to see? Can we get out into some of the colleges around here so that they can see this new work?”

As for the 2022 season, McKowen said the festival will honor its commitments to the producers of the plays from the 2020 season that was canceled because of the pandemic.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival has been in operation since 1991 and bills itself as one of the top theater festivals in the world. Each summer, CATF brings six new plays in rotating repertory on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown.

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Parker pleased with Milum’s development, offensive line’s growth

— By Taylor Kennedy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s offensive line has been a frequent topic of discussion throughout the 2021 season.

The offensive line has gone through ebbs and flows from hiccups against Oklahoma to not allowing a sack in its performance versus Iowa State.

With one regular season contest remaining at Kansas, offensive coordinator Gerad Parker believes the unit has shown steady progression.

“We believe that they continue to take steps,” Parker said. “Even though we have taken a few steps backward, we have also taken steps forward. That does not mean it is failing. It is part of the process of playing with a younger group.

“I know there has been a lot of clips floating across social media about how they strain to finish, and that is a byproduct of continued collected effort.”

A pair of clips from last week’s 31-23 win over Texas showed former Spring Valley standout and current WVU starting right tackle Wyatt Milum playing with no shortage of physicality.

The killer instinct of true freshman right tackle Wyatt Milum (64) was on full display here on this crucial 3rd and long in the second half yesterday against Texas …

— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) November 21, 2021

Milum has seen action in 10 of the 11 games over his first season in Morgantown, missing only the loss at Baylor with a midseason injury.

After beginning the season splitting time with Parker Moorer, Milum has made six starts and continued to come into his own as a true freshman.

By popular demand … You folks asked for it, so here it is. Watch RT Wyatt Milum (64) pile drive Texas corner Jahdae Barron (23) a full 15 yards downfield on this deflected tunnel screen. This happened right in front of our sideline and ignited the entire Mountaineer bench …

— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) November 22, 2021

Parker has been impressed with the amount of growth Milum has shown in year one.

“He is at a point now in his career where, at a young age, he has played a lot of meaningful football in meaningful games,” Parker noted. “What better to stand in that fire at his age and be able to progress the way he has?”

WVU OL Wyatt Milum (Photo by Joe Brocato)

Parker attributes the failures Milum went through this season to help him in the growth process as he develops into the player the WVU coaching staff thought it was getting when it added one of the state’s top recruits over the last decade.

“Failure is good,” Parker said. “He has had to fail some and play young, but he has failed just enough and found success. He is at a point now where the game has slowed down for him. He is starting to play fast and physically. Everyone around him has noticed those things.”

The offensive line will have another tall task this weekend as Kansas boasts two of the Big 12’s best defensive players.

Safety Kenny Logan Jr. is tied with Mountaineer linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo atop the Big 12 with 96 tackles and defensive end Kyron Johnson is tied for fifth with 6.5 sacks.

Johnson is a player Parker will be keeping an eye on throughout the game because of how well and often he causes disruption in the backfield.

“He is a matchup issue for us in the pass rush,” Parker said. “We have to know where he is and have a good plan for him because he can disrupt the game. We have to do everything in our power and make sure schematically and personnel we do not let him do that to us.”

Parker also respects how well Logan has played this season, and knows WVU’s offense must be aware of where he is at all times.

“He is a good player, and he shows up in different ways,” Parker noted. “He tracks the ball well. He works downhill in the box, and he tackles the football well. He plays with high energy. He is a complete player.”

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