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High school fired up over their Bulldogs

December 02, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If members of Martinsburg High School's football team can match their level of play with the level of excitement by two of the team's self-proclaimed No. 1 fans, Saturday's matchup against the highest-ranked team in the state should be a snap.

"I think we're going to win. I hope we will," said an excited Amber O'Roke, who also is a cheerleader. "We're having a pep rally. Everybody's, like, hyped."

"We have to have faith in our boys," added O'Roke's friend and fellow cheerleader Kayla Lynch.

The Bulldogs' only loss of the year, to the Bluefield (W.Va.) High School Beavers last month, grounded a team that had perhaps been overly confident, Lynch said.

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"It changed their expectations and it's making them play harder," she said.

Martinsburg (12-1) will face No. 1 Morgantown (13-0) in the state Class AAA championship game. The game, to be played at Wheeling (W.Va.) Island Stadium, begins at noon and will be broadcast locally on Martinsburg-based WEPM, 1340 AM.

Last year and in 2002, the Bulldogs lost in the state championship game.

Other students interviewed after school Wednesday expressed similar thoughts as Lynch and O'Roke.

"I think they're going to win, finally," said Lauren Gregory, who also described herself as the team's No. 1 fan. "The jinx is over."

At school, the mood is one of excitement mixed with a dose of apprehension.

"People don't know what the outcome's going to be," Gregory said. "People are nervous."

Dustin Peters, a member of the team, plays quarterback, but cannot currently play because he is injured.

"We're looking good. We've been practicing hard and everything," said Peters, who said that Morgantown is a good team. "We're going to have to give it our all."

School events centered on the football team include a pep rally planned for 6:30 p.m. today on the football field, when the coach and some players will speak. On Friday at 9 a.m., students will line Bulldog Boulevard as the two charter buses carrying the team leave, said Martinsburg High School Principal Ken Pack.

Members of the school's band will leave on buses Saturday morning, along with local fans.

"We think we're going to win," Pack said. "We've got a great group of young men that are playing."

Pack, who attended all of the football team's home games and most of its away games, said he believes the score will be close. He noted that the game this year will be played on a new AstroTurf surface.

Foul weather last year left the team playing in, essentially, a mud pit. Pack is keeping an eye on the weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service is predicting a 40 percent chance of snow in the morning and rain during the day Saturday in Wheeling.

Members of the community have been coming to the high school to buy Bulldogs-emblazoned jackets and sweatshirts, but Pack said that overall the mood in the hallways and classrooms is one of excitement tempered by a hesitation to talk too much about a victory.

"I'm sure by the end of the week the hype will be there," he said.

Julie Dopson, president of the football team's boosters club, said there are no seats left on the two buses the club chartered for the trip.

"We probably could've filled two more," she said.

Dopson, whose son plays on the team, also said she is hoping for a win.

"They've got big hearts and they want it bad," she said.

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