Huntington celebrates title teams
HUNTINGTON --Huntington's champions were challenged by someone who knows something about championships.
Former Marshall University and New England Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown was the featured speaker Thursday at Huntington's Parade of Champions, which honored the city's 10 teams that won county or state championships or gained national recognition in 2013 or 2014.
Brown challenged members of those title-winning squads to use their talents for more than athletics.
"The word 'champion' comes with a lot of responsibility," said Brown, a three-time Super Bowl champion. "A champion stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves. Be a champion not just on the field, on the court or in the ring, but in the classroom and the community. Work hard at everything you do. As a champion, you know how to win. Now, apply it to your lives."
The crowd applauded Brown as he spoke on the plaza in front of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, the end point of the parade, which stretched from 13th Street down 4th Avenue and across 3rd Avenue to its destination as the athletes threw candy to the crowd. Nine of the 10 teams honored attended. Huntington High School's girls tennis team was playing a match and couldn't be there.
Honored teams were Huntington St. Joe Prep basketball, which placed third nationally; state champion Huntington High boys basketball and wrestling; state champion Huntington St. Joe girls basketball; Cabell County champion Huntington Middle School football and boys basketball, Huntington East Middle School wrestling and girls basketball; and Wayne County champion Vinson Middle School boys basketball.
"Huntington is title town because of you," Mayor Steve Williams told the crowd.
"It's great to be recognized, for the kids to be recognized," Huntington High boys basketball coach Ron Hess said. "Our athletic director, Mr. (Bruce) Senior does a good job keeping us all together rooting for one another. We encourage our kids to play more than one sport."
Highlanders wrestling coach Robbie Archer said his state title team was cheering for Hess' basketball squad and congratulated the other nine champions.
"I think it's wonderful," Archer said of the parade. "Look at the smiles. For a town our size to have 10 champions is incredible. For the mayor to shut down the town for the kids is very special."
Huntington St. Joe's girls have won six consecutive state titles under coach Shannon Lewis. He said he was thrilled to see not just his players being honored but many other kids he knew.
"This is a great thing the mayor is doing," Lewis said. "I'm very appreciative. Any recognition the kids can get is good."
The kids agreed. Jadon Hayes, the most valuable player of Huntington Middle's football team, beamed with pride.
"We won two championships, football and basketball," Hayes said. "Nobody is as good as us. Our city is known for its champions."
Braxton Johnson of Huntington East Middle's wrestling team said he felt his first-year team could accomplish something special. Huntington East is the consolidation of Beverly Hill and Enslow and is in its first season.
"We all wanted to win it," Johnson said of the county title. "We set that as our goal."
Huntington East Middle's girls basketball team gave coach Donnie Lucas his 29th championship during an illustrious coaching career. Players Mackenzie Grier, Jade Fleeman and Jill Cunningham took turns saying how excited they were to be honored in a parade for all to see after finishing the season 18-1. They carried a banner with the letters "B.I.C."
"At the beginning of the year, that stood for Babes in Cradle," Lucas said, referring to his young team. "By the end of the year, it meant Best in County."
Vinson basketball player Trey Maynard said he wasn't surprised by the success of his team.
"Not really," Maynard said. "Not at all. We played as a team."
Huntington Prep features players from throughout the nation, including Josh Perkins of Aurora, Colo. Perkins has signed to play college ball at Gonzaga. He said he was very appreciative of how the people of Huntington have embraced him and his teammates.
"It's nice that they're honoring us," Perkins said. "We want to congratulate all the other champions here. We're happy to be a part of this."
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.