Versatility makes two-time AAA runner-up Wolves different this season
SPRING VALLEY - Coaches often say a player and team learn more from defeat than from victory. Spring Valley High School’s football team is tired of learning and instead wants to teach.
The No. 2 Timberwolves (13-0) take on top-seeded Martinsburg (13-0) at noon Saturday in the Class AAA state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium. Each of the last two seasons, the Bulldogs have dispatched the Timberwolves in the finals, 49-7 in 2016 and 44-16 in 2017.
Whispers abound that if anyone is going to beat Martinsburg, winner of six of the last eight state titles, this is the year. Spring Valley’s coaches and players laughed at the suggestion that the Bulldogs are vulnerable.
“They’re one heck of a great team,” said Timberwolves quarterback Will Adkins. “We won’t take them lightly.”
Adkins and his teammates said the last two losses to Martinsburg were learning experiences. In 2016, Spring Valley was glad to be in the championship game. Last season, the Timberwolves led 16-14 at halftime, but couldn’t finish the job.
Spring Valley is glad to be back in Wheeling, but not satisfied.
“You can’t win if you don’t get there,” Timberwolves coach Brad Dingess said. “Now that we’re there, we have to weather adversity when it comes. If we don’t, then it snowballs.”
Spring Valley’s goal is to limit penalties and turnovers.
“Martinsburg doesn’t need any help,” Dingess said.
Comparing Spring Valley’s teams from the last three years reveals one is not like the other. Power run-oriented in 2016 and 2017, the Timberwolves still feature bullish backs Owen Chafin and Isaac Howard. Adkins, too is a load at 6-foot-5, 233 pounds, when he runs. Spring Valley, though, throws well, meaning Martinsburg defenders won’t be able to stack the box without risking being beaten via the air.
“Our versatility is the biggest difference in this year’s team and those we’ve had the last two,” wide receiver Graeson Malashevich said. “Our pass protection has improved so much.”