HUNTINGTON — Ceredo-Kenova won 10 state football championships and appeared in 13 title games during the most-dominant 20-year period in West Virginia high school football history.
Perhaps the only reason the Wonders didn’t win more is consolidation with Buffalo-Wayne and Vinson to form Spring Valley in 1998.
Martinsburg hasn’t reached that level of achievement, but the top-seeded Bulldogs (13-0) are hot on the trail of the Wonders heading into Saturday’s noon state championship game with No. 2 Cabell Midland (13-0) at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Martinsburg isn’t a Goliath. The Bulldogs more resemble David — a winner. The program has won three consecutive Class AAA state championship games, all over Spring Valley, and seven of the last nine. Even vaunted C-K never accomplished those feats.
The Bulldogs have won 51 consecutive games, last losing to Capital 35-30 in the state semifinals on Nov. 20, 2015. Martinsburg has beaten each opponent by at least 35 points this season and outscored foes at a 62-7 pace. Just two teams, Parkersburg South in last week’s semifinals and Jefferson on Oct. 25, reached the 20-point mark. The Bulldogs trounced South by 57 and Jefferson by 39.
Martinsburg coach David Walker said he expected Parkersburg South to be “the first challenge we’ve had in a while.” It wasn’t.
In their other two playoff games, Martinsburg beat Preston 84-0 and Spring Mills 70-0. The Bulldogs have shut out five teams and easily could have blanked more had they not liberally substituted.
In-state competition hasn’t provided a challenge. Before the playoffs, Martinsburg played just five teams from West Virginia, defeating Hedgesville 67-6, Washington 62-0, Spring Mills 77-0, Jefferson 60-21 and Musselman 57-14.
No Bulldogs senior who has been with the program all four seasons has experienced a loss.
Martinsburg has been so dominant that Walker said his team sometimes gets bored.
“I think they started out with a lot of excitement playing,” Walker told The Journal of Martinsburg. “I think as the games went on and it got out of hand, you didn’t get the same intensity.”
Martinsburg wins with speed. Extraordinary skill-position players working in a West Coast-style offense test even the stoutest of defenses. Quarterback Elijah Banks is talented and may choose from a deep stable of receivers, as well as dynamic running backs Kevon Warren and Naieem Kearney.
It’s not just the offense, however, as Martinsburg proved against Preston. Thanks to defense and special teams scores, the Bulldogs owned a 28-0 lead in that game before its offense took the field.