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Martinsburg makes run at 'Dog Slam'

August 27, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

Can Martinsburg's football team win a third state championship for the school in the same calendar year?

"I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that," said Bulldogs head coach Dave Walker. "We're a long way from that with all the kids we lost."

The boys basketball and baseball teams captured West Virginia Class AAA state titles and the football team is ready to move forward from its 9-3 record in 2008 when the season opens tonight at home against Stonewall Jackson (Va.).

"We need to grow up very fast," said Walker, who begins his 13th year at the helm of the Bulldogs. "The first part of the schedule is very tough. If we can come out of the first five, six games, then we can work toward a better finish."

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Walker said Stonewall is a very athletic team and, after that, Martinsburg can look forward to playing against Thomas Johnson, expected to have one of its best teams ever.

"We'll play a good many seniors but most of them are inexperienced," said Walker, "moreso than being young and physical as they are to gain and grow mentally tough."

Leading the way is junior quarterback Kam Puller (5-foot-11, 180), back to pick up where he left off last season and provide even more fireworks. He rushed for a 120-yard average out of the spread offense and threw for 10 touchdowns, including five to returning senior David Hammond.

Walker expects that Brandon Bishop and David Gladden will be the main running backs to replace the graduated All-Area star Ryan Rowland.

Hammond leads a group of four wide receivers that include Derek Walker, Kendall Redman and David Arndt.

And on the offensive line, Walker said he's had to get four replacements but the 'Dogs "are probably not as big as normal."

Only four vets are back defensively -- Jordan Domenico, Chris Burg, Zach Butler and Bishop.

"We've narrowed down things a good bit but it's a long season," said Walker. "We've answered some questions in preseason but now we've got to polish things."

Jefferson



The Cougars lost All-Area first-teamer Dewey McDonald to graduation, but the big thing for coach Richard Mills is to get off to a winning start.

Jefferson has lost its first two games in each of the last two seasons, finishing 4-6 a year ago.

The Cougars need to fill most skill position spots, using their line as an anchor. Senior center Seth White and linebacker P.J. Nagel will lead on each side of the ball.

Washington



Coach Mark Hash has a full year and a first offseason weight program under his belt geared to improving the Patriots, who went 2-8 last season.

The Patriots have nine offensive starters and 10 defensive starters returning, even though they are still young in the program's second year.

Senior Brad Jackson will man the quarterback position and Hash says he has very good skills and will be one of the best in the area. And the Patriots will feature senior RB Dylan Nick, who rushed for 900 yards last year.

Hedgesville



Second-year coach Paul Plott is still experiencing a shortage of numbers as the Eagles hope to build on a 2-8 season. Both victories coming at the end of the year.

The Eagles had a ton of young players, giving the feel of a brand new team.

Plott will call on Zach Layhew to man the quarterback position as the Eagles get ready for their opener tonight at Washington.

Berkeley Springs



The Indians hope to return to form after a subpar 3-7 season under coach Angelo Luvara as many of the players gained valuable experience in 2008.

Luvara is optimistic as the season begins tonight at home against Clarke County (Va.).

Senior Max Langenstein was the top rusher for the Tribe with 515 yards. Senior Mike Hensley anchors the line and senior Josh Kelly should lead a crop of receivers.

Musselman



Veteran coach Denny Price and his Applemen went 6-5 last year and reached the West Virginia state playoffs.

Quarterback Brandon Michael will handle the signal-calling duties. Price plans on returning the Applemen to a wing-T club.

The Musselman have a tough opening schedule, beginning tonight at Loudoun County (Va.). The Applemen open with four straight road games.

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