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Musselman starting over in Class AAA

November 15, 1996

11/15/96

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

INWOOD, W.Va. - The Musselman Applemen are in the same old place but in different surroundings.

It doesn't make much sense unless you realize the defending West Virginia Class AA football champions are back in the championship hunt again but this time in the unfamiliar territory of the Class AAA field.

The No. 3-ranked Applemen host No. 14-rated Morgantown today at 7:30 p.m. in their fabled Apple Pit. Coach Denny Price has a pretty good map to help Musselman navigate through these uncharted waters.

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"It's not different than any other time when we've been in the playoffs except we don't have to contact with the Class AAA schools across the state," Price said. "After 15 years in Class AA, we knew pretty much everyone, now we are starting over."

It's not so bad shaking some new hands in the playoffs, because at least it means you're there. But the Applemen aren't really worried about making new friends just yet.

"To be honest, when we first got the news that we were moving to Class AAA, a lot of people around weren't happy," Price said. "But for the kids, it was a new kind of excitement. They weren't disappointed that they weren't going to be able to defend the Class AA title. The wanted the get the first shot to be in the Class AAA playoffs."

Musselman has been preparing for this day for the last few years. Price admitted the Applemen began playing an all-Class AAA schedule last season and started making the changes needed to face "the big boys."

"We've known for the last five years that we would eventually be Class AAA," Price said. "This end of (Berkeley) County has been growing and we were getting a new school. We put in a run-and-shoot style offense to go with our Wing T to give us more flexibilty. It used to be if you stopped our run, we had problems."

But it hasn't been like Musselman has been able to sneak up on anyone.

"We returned a lot of players from last year's team and that got us some respect," Price said. "A lot of newspaper polls around the state had us ranked in the top five as a Class AAA team before the computer polls came out. In Class AA, they never seemed to be able to get in the top five, so that suprised us."

If you're the defending state champion - in any class - it shouldn't have.

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