Spring Valley looking for better start to 2013 season
SPRING VALLEY -- The 2012 Spring Valley High School football season was historic.
The Timberwolves won its first playoff game in school history, a 31-7 victory over Wheeling Park, while senior Ryan George broke the school rushing record and fellow senior and now-West Virginia Mountaineer Elijah Wellman went through, around and past defenders on game-breaking plays every other time he touched the ball. The Timberwolves took eventual state Class AAA runner-up Cabell Midland to the wire in an electrifying quarterfinal playoff game that the Knights won, 28-26.
As exciting as all that was, there's one aspect of the 2012 campaign that head coach Brad Dingess does not want to repeat. That's starting the season 0-2.
The Timberwolves lost the first two games last season to Cabell Midland and Huntington High, putting the team in a must-win situation by week three.
"We don't want to go through the whole season with our backs against the wall," Dingess said during practice at the school Wednesday. "We got a big win in the playoffs last year and kind of got that monkey off our backs, and each year you want to do as good or better than you did the year before, but we're just taking things one game at a time."
Spring Valley opens the season with a Friday, 7:30 p.m., game at St. Albans.
St. Albans finished 2012 at 2-8 and didn't qualify for the playoffs, but Dingess isn't taking anything for granted in the opening game of the 2013 season.
"Week one is always a funny week. It's different from any other week in the season," the coach said. "There's always a lot of hype, and you don't know a whole lot about the other team.
"On the road in the (Mountain State Athletic Conference), you never know what you're going to get, and St. Albans always has tough kids and it's a tough place to play, so we have our hands full when we go up there."
St. Albans and Spring Valley did not meet in the 2012 regular season.
Dingess is less concerned about losing Wellman and George than one might think.
The Timberwolves return Colby Webb, a three-year starter on defense and Wellman's backup on offense, and Tyler Robertson, another three-year defensive starter who saw some time on offense at tailback in 2012, among other weapons.
"They're different types of backs, and you may see us try to get to the edge more, but we're still a power running football team," Dingess said.
Spring Valley has a key weapon under center in Tyler Brown. Brown started last season for the Timberwolves at quarterback as a sophomore, and was mainly responsible for handing the ball off, though he threw more in later games as Spring Valley was tuning up for the playoffs.
"We might be a little more quarterback-oriented than fullback/tailback," Dingess said. "Everything is going to run through Tyler Brown. He has a year of experience under his belt and you might see us pass more or even him run more. You'll see him, where he might have carried the ball two to three times a game, he might carry it 10 times a game.
"It's still going to be smash-mouth football."
Spring Valley is on the road for its first two contests of the season, playing Sept. 6 at rival Huntington High.
The Timberwolves play their first home game Sept. 13 against South Charleston.