Power short-circuits 'Dogs

December 04, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

WHEELING, W.Va. - Somewhere out there, Bear Bryant, Vince Lombardi and George Halas are sitting around with wry smiles on their faces.

For years, time had turned their brand of football into a historical artifact, only to be used as a last resort when that newfangled passing game didn't work. There really aren't any "three yards and a cloud of dust," physically dominating, "wear 'em out" teams anymore.

Until Saturday.

The coaching immortals probably gave a collective Ebert & Roeper thumbs-up if they caught a glimpse of the way Parkersburg overpowered Martinsburg for its third West Virginia Class AAA state football title in eight seasons with a 34-6 victory Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The Big Reds (14-0) stuck to the basics with power running, physical strength and good old-fashioned blocking and tackling to take the Bulldogs out of their comfort zone early while forcing Martinsburg into self-destructing mistakes.


"We were beat by a better team," Martinsburg coach David Walker said. "They were more physical than us up front. Anytime you are beaten in the trenches, it's tough."

For Parkersburg, it was an old-school trademark.

"We win in the weight room in the offseason," Parkersburg coach Bernie Buttrey said. "You see it every Friday. We win because we win it in our weight room."

That's not to say Martinsburg didn't use weights to get ready for the season, but Parkersburg showed the "Big" part of its school mascot Saturday.

"We hit the weights too, but look at their size," Walker said. "They were physical, bigger and stronger. There's no question."

The combination created a myriad of problems for the Bulldogs.

· Martinsburg was unable to block on the running game. Parkersburg flooded the Bulldogs' points of attack - bringing more defenders on each play than Martinsburg could block - and totally shutting down the running game. Martinsburg managed 77 yards on 29 carries, including just 33 yards by Kennedy Award candidate Josh Twyman.

· Martinsburg didn't tackle well. Parkersburg not only blocked Martinsburg's defense, Big Reds running backs routinely ran for extra yardage after being hit. Tailback Matt Lindamood was able to keep his legs moving and drag the pile, eventually breaking away for two of his three touchdowns. Lindamood, Parkersburg's MVP for the game, finished with 170 yards on 17 carries and touchdowns of 56, 13 and 4 yards. Fullback Charlie Taylor complemented the running game in similar fashion for 123 yards and another touchdown.

· Parkersburg not only applied the physical pressure, but the Big Reds added sure tackling - many in the open field - to stop any advances by the Bulldogs in their tracks.

The added pressure forced quarterback Dustin Peters into three interceptions while the Bulldogs became jumpy off the line, creating false-start penalties.

"We made way too many mistakes," Walker said. "We had bad snaps and I don't know how many times we jumped. You can't win making mistakes."

The mistakes just added to Parkersburg's strength.

"Even when we were down 24 points, it wouldn't have been that bad if we had come up and stopped them a couple of times," said Peters. "They are a very defensive team. They came out and stopped us on defense. Then, they keep the ball away from you on offense. Their offense is a defense because you want to get out there, but they got the ball."

Parkersburg asserted its old-school edge from the first play, swarming Twyman for a 2-yard loss on a basic run. The Big Reds strengthened their grip by halting the Bulldogs on fourth-down plays and turned Martinsburg back on downs after Marcus Scott returned a kickoff to Parkersburg's 23 near the end of the half. Meanwhile, Parkersburg got all but two yards of its offense on the ground.

In made for a fruitless trip to Wheeling for Martinsburg, which has lost in the state final in four of the last six seasons. Although getting to the finals is an accomplishment, the results have made it a dubious achievement.

"I definitely don't like to come up here and lose," Walker said. "But when you come up here and get beaten by a better team, there isn't much you can do."

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