Community factors into Wayne's success
WAYNE -- For the last 15 years, Wayne head coach Tom Harmon has seen success by getting everyone involved.
That is his philosophy on and off the football field.
In a community where everyone is a Pioneer, Harmon and his team went around to the feeder elementary schools for pep rallies on Thursday before hitting the road around 5 p.m. for Wheeling.
The Pioneers take on Keyser in Friday night's Class AA championship in the first game of the Super Six at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"Wayne's not a place where individuals are often celebrated," Harmon said. "They are seen as part of a bigger scheme. Being able to compete for championships proves that."
Harmon wasn't just speaking of his players in that sense, either.
From coaches to concession stand workers to supporters in the community, it takes everyone for Harmon's program to run successfully.
That even includes those elementary school kids who get a close-up look of the players and dream of one day being the next Brandon Spurlock or Mason Hodge or Grant Ferguson.
The visits to the schools not only set the foundation for the future by letting the younger kids experience that feeling, but it also gives a little bit of individual face-time for the guys who work as a unit to make it happen.
"We are happy that players for us are able to get a lot of recognition because everyone pulls in the same direction -- an anomaly in today's world," Harmon said.
After the visits at Lavalette Elementary and Wayne Elementary on Thursday, the Pioneers headed back to the high school and loaded up with a large convoy in tow for another trip to Wheeling.
The Pioneers earned the berth with an 18-0 win last week over Robert C. Byrd - a victory that portrayed Harmon's vision for his program more than any other in recent memory.
Offensively, Wayne played without Spurlock and Hodge -- the team's two leading rushers - in the win. Hodge was limited to only defensive work while Spurlock did not play.
It would be the equivalent of taking away both David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley from Cabell Midland or both Ryan Switzer and Dustin Crouser from George Washington's offensive attack early in the year.
Still, the Pioneers kept the offense rolling. Nathan Spurlock - Brandon's brother -- rushed for 212 yards on 25 carries and the Pioneers totaled 485 yards of offense.
More impressively, they limited an offense that had been averaging 40 points a game to just 55 total yards in the entire contest.
It goes back to a simple philosophy -- when it's a player's turn to step in, they have to be ready.
"You have to be able to pull together, and it helps when the kids are close and they commit to each other," Harmon said.
Harmon did add that he expects Spurlock and Hodge to play on Friday night, but does not know to what extent.
"Unless there's an army reserve unit that can keep them off the field, they'll be out there," Harmon said.
Regardless, an effort like the one against Robert C. Byrd will be needed against Keyser, who Harmon summed up with one word - disciplined.
"They are very in-tune with the way they want to play and confident with the way they play," Harmon said. "It's been a proven winner throughout the year. They really come off the ball and block. Defensively, they line up right all the time and are in position to make plays. They're tackling is as good as anybody's."
The Golden Tornado are led by two-way standout Danny Fife and running back Blake Ravenscroft, who have combined for nearly 2,000 yards on the year.
If there is one difference in the game, it is experience at this level.
Keyser is making its first trip back to the Class AA state championship game since they defeated Winfield 21-20 in 1969.
Wayne's seniors are making their third trip in four years.
Harmon doesn't hold much weight in that statistic.
"I think maybe sometimes the various factors are overrated," Harmon said. "There's a little bit of a comfort level there for us, but once the ball is kicked off, it will be like week three at Pioneer Field with a big crowd."