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Doege proves himself right man for the moment in season-saving win

COMMENTARY

MANHATTAN, Kan. — It was time.

Under normal circumstances, Austin Kendall would probably be making his 10th straight start as West Virginia’s quarterback. But with the Mountaineers mired in a five-game losing streak, Neal Brown couldn’t wait any longer. Jarret Doege was no longer a quarterback. He was a spark plug for a team that could no longer get the engine to turn.

“You’ve heard me say this, and it’s the truth — our struggles offensively weren’t because of Austin,” Brown said. “He may not have played as well as he can, but he hasn’t played poorly. He wasn’t the reason we were losing. And he actually played a pretty good football game last week against Texas Tech.

“I just felt like we’d lost five in a row. We needed a change-up. Jarret practiced well. So we made the decision.”

Doege played as he practiced, finishing his debut 20 of 30 for 234 yards and three touchdowns.

Fans who have been clamoring for a quarterback change are undoubtedly asking “What took you so long?” The Mountaineers still need to win out to reach a bowl game, and perhaps starting Doege sooner would have made that path a bit easier.

Those fans need to keep 2021 in mind.

By playing Doege in four games this season and preserving his redshirt, there is a chance the Mountaineers will be loaded for bear two years from now. In theory, he’d be going into his second season as WVU’s starter and be surrounded by a bevy of veteran receivers who grow with him in the offense — Sam James, Bryce Wheaton, Sean Ryan, Ali Jennings, Winston Wright, Mike O’Laughlin and more.

Most importantly, Doege has been fully on board with the idea of redshirting from the get-go.

“I’ve been getting in the weight room and Coach Mike [Joseph] has been changing my body to become a better quarterback,” Doege said. “At Bowling Green, they didn’t have the cafe with the nutrition they can give us. Nutrition-wise you can really change change your body to get bigger, faster and stronger.”

In order to get to that theoretically bright future, first the Mountaineers needed to see what Doege could do in the present.

The early returns are promising. The biggest difference Doege showed from Kendall was his ability to move around in and out of the pocket to keep plays alive. On no play was that more obvious than his game-winning 50-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Wheaton, which happened only because the safeties were convinced Doege was about to tuck it and run.

Doege is no running threat, but he’s probably a hell of a dodgeball player.

Surprisingly, Brown says that area stood out as a weakness on Doege’s tape from his two years as a starter at Bowling Green.

“He’s significantly better at extending plays,” Brown said. “He didn’t do a great job of that at Bowling Green.”

Obviously, Doege has learned a few things in his short time as a Mountaineer.

“I think it’s instincts,” Doege said. “Getting out of the pocket and finding a guy, it just turns into instincts when you make a play like that.”

That comes as no surprise to Doege’s roommate, wide receiver George Campbell. Both late arrivals to the program, they were paired together much the same way as freshmen are.

The two clearly have a connection, with Campbell adding to his ever-increasing touchdown total with a pair of scoring catches against the Wildcats. There’s more to it than that, though. As a senior, Campbell sees Doege as someone who will continue making an impact for the Mountaineers after their time living together is through.

“He’s one of those guys, I kid you not, I walk into the house and he’s sitting there watching film. He’s one of those guys that’s committed,” Campbell said. “A lot of people you’d think maybe that’s not going to be the situation because he’s your backup. Even in the summer, before he was starting, he’d sit there all night watching film.

“He’s one of those guys who is truly committed to this team. That’s what makes everything so special to me. It makes me so proud of him. He spends so much time making sure everything is right on his end.”

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Playoff Roundup: Wheeling Central wins wild one; All unbeaten teams advance

Photo by John Hagley Photography

Cabell Midland’s J.J. Roberts fights for yardage against Riverside.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nine more quarterfinal spots were secured on Saturday afternoon. Here’s a look at first-round playoff action across the Mountin State to close the weekend.

Martinsburg scores 84 points in first half of win

The top seed in Class AAA set a single-game postseason points record and needed only one half to do.

Class AAA No. 1 Martinsburg defeated No. 16 Preston, 84-0, and all of the Bulldogs’ points came over the first two quarters.

With the win, MHS (11-0) has now won 53 straight contests.

Anthony Smith returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and the Bulldogs soon after added two scores via blocked punts.

Elijah Banks threw a touchdown pass to Smith, before Naieem Kearney reached end zone on a 4-yard run.

Jarod Bowie took a punt 58 yards for a TD and Kearney added another rushing touchdown from 29 yards. The Bulldogs’ final first-quarter touchdown came on Braxton Todd’s interception return, leaving Martinsburg with a 56-0 advantage through one quarter of play.

The Knights finished 4-7.

Cabell Midland stops Riverside to stay unbeaten

J.J. Roberts and Hayden Hass rushed for first-quarter touchdowns and Class AAA No. 2 Cabell Midland improved to 11-0 with a 42-6 win over No. 15 Riverside.

The Knights got a 33-yard fumble return for a TD from Cooper Hardman in the second quarter, while an 8-yard run from Jakob Caudill allowed them to lead 28-0 later in the period.

Roberts’ 58-yard TD pass to Hass allowed Cabell Midland to take a 35-0 lead into halftime.

Riverside (4-7) got its only score on a Caden Easterling 2-yard run.

Strong second half sends Spring Valley past Hurricane

Whatever was said at halftime or during the first timeout of the second half, the Spring Valley football team got the message.

Two turnovers in the red zone, combined with a gutsy effort by underdog Hurricane, saw the Redskins take a 6-0 halftime lead over the Timberwolves at the Wolves Den.

Coach Brad Dingess and his staff got their message across as Spring Valley, the No. 3 seed in Class AAA, dominated the second half and prevailed, 34-6.

No. 14 Hurricane (4-7) took the lead on a 13-yard pass from Austin Womack to Ryan Moses. The drive was made possible by an interception by Brogan Brown inside the Redskins 20.

Spring Valley’s Luke Christopher lost a fumble just across midfield to stall a first-period drive.

Spring Valley (10-1) got the ball on the first possession of the second half and the key play on that game-changing drive was a 48-yard run by David Livingston to the Redskins 11. Two plays later, quarterback Nate Ellis went over from a yard out and Zane Porter’s extra point put the home team ahead to stay.

Spring Valley’s Brody Brumfield scored on a 5-yard run and the second third-period score came on a 21-yard keeper by Ellis.

In the fourth period, Clayton Sharp picked off a Womack pass and Luke Christopher would later score on a 32-yard run. The final scoring play was a 9-yard pass from Ellis to Corbin Page. 

Poca stays perfect, eliminates North Marion

Ethan Payne rushed for 294 yards and five touchdowns to lift Class AA No. 3 Poca over No. 14 North Marion, 42-27.

The Dots (11-0) got two rushing TDs from Payne from short distance to build a 14-0 lead. 

The Kennedy Award candidate went on to add rushing touchdowns of 76, 42 and 63 yards, helping Poca overcome a strong effort from Huskies’ quarterback Gunner Murphy.

In defeat, the North Marion (7-4) signal-caller was 25-of-34 for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Murphy was intercepted three times, but also added a rushing score.

Payne and his younger brother, Toby Payne, each had an interception, as did Ethan Miller in the win.

Photo by Matt Murphy

Poca’s Toby Payne (5), Ethan Miller (6) and Ethan Payne (22) were key contributors Saturday in a playoff win against North Marion.

Doddridge County closes with 43 unanswered points against Madonna

Although the Class A No. 1 Bulldogs were without standout tailback Hunter America in the second half, they had little difficulty advancing in a 57-7 win over No. 16 Madonna.

Reece Burnside rushed for 123 yards in the win and scored on runs of 48 and 5 yards, respectively, on his first two touches.

Santino Arlia’s 8-yard TD pass to Anthony Sessi allowed the Dons (6-4-1) to close to within 14-7, but it was all Doddridge from there.

Noah Bumgardner threw a 65-yard TD pass to Dylan Knight, before Bumgardner scored on a 3-yard run.

Simon James’ 2-yard touchdown run allowed Doddridge to take a 34-7 lead into halftime.

With a comfortable lead, the Bulldogs elected to let America sit out the second half with a minor injury.

Greenbrier West eases by Tygarts Valley

The Class A No. 4 Cavaliers moved to 10-1 and recorded their first playoff win since 2013 by handling No. 13 Tygarts Valley, 52-13.

Greenbrier West (10-1) led 38-6 at halftime thanks in large part to two first-quarter rushing TDs from Noah Brown and two second-quarter passing scores from Kaiden Pack to Lawson Vaughn.

Pack also had a rushing touchdown in both the second and third quarters.

Brown rushed for 133 yards, while Cole McClung added 131 yards and a score on the ground.

The Bulldogs finished 7-4 following a 5-0 start.

Defending champion Maroon Knights win on late touchdown

Jalen Creighton hauled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Rine with 9 seconds remaining to lift No. 10 Wheeling Central to an improbable 13-12 win at No. 7 Tolsia.

The Rebels (7-4) had gone ahead with just 39 seconds left on Jesse Muncy’s 6-yard pass to Tanner Copley, which finished off a 90-yard drive.

Gavin Meadows’ 56-yard interception return gave Tolsia the initial lead in the third quarter, before Rine threw a 17-yard TD pass to Creighton early in the fourth quarter.

Wheeling Central improved to 7-4.

East Hardy holds off Midland Trail

Christian Dove threw two touchdown passes for the Cougars, but it was his defense that made all the difference in East Hardy’s 12-7 win over Midland Trail.

Dove forced a fumble on a late 61-yard run by the Patriots’ Cody Harrell, and East Hardy’s Dawson Price came up with the recovery in the end zone to preserve the win.

The No. 8 Cougars improved to 8-3, while the No. 9 Patriots finished their season 6-5.

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Clutch plays help West Virginia snap five-game losing skid at K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Behind the play of a new quarterback and an old cornerback, West Virginia snapped its longest losing streak in seven years, upsetting No. 24 Kansas State 24-20 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was West Virginia’s first win since the last time it set foot in the Sunflower State. The Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) lost five straight after opening the Big 12 schedule with a 29-24 win at Kansas on Sept. 21.

“This is a huge win,” said West Virginia coach Neal Brown. “It felt like a long time coming. We’ve been knocking on the door. We felt we would be in a position to win a game that maybe we shouldn’t have. To come in here and beat the No. 24 team, that beat Oklahoma, it’s big for our program. They believed the whole time.”

It’s easily the biggest win for Brown in his first year at WVU, and among the most significant in his career. Brown’s only other victory over a Top 25 team came when Troy upset No. 25 LSU in 2017.

Quarterback Jarret Doege made his first career start as a Mountaineer, completing 20 of 30 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. No completion was bigger than his 50-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman Bryce Wheaton on third-and-22, giving West Virginia the lead with 11:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Kansas State (6-4, 3-4) secondary lost track of Wheaton, who slipped behind the safeties when they bit on the possibility of Doege breaking loose for a run despite the third-and-long situation. Doege was scrambling to keep the play alive before unleashing the throw.

“It’s tough when a quarterback scrambles, because sometimes players don’t know if they are past the line of scrimmage or not,” said Kansas State safety Denzel Goolsby. “I saw the ball getting thrown on the other side of the field, and a guy must have been able to get open… it was a good play on their part.”

Doege paid the price for keeping the play alive until the last possible moment, getting decked to the ground right after he released the throw downfield.

“Fortunately I was able to get it off before I got hit,” Doege said. “I didn’t know exactly if he caught it or what happened until I looked up and he was in the end zone.”

Scott Sewell/USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Hakeem Bailey (24) is congratulated by a teammate after making a last-second interception to win the game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

West Virginia spent the rest of the game hanging on for dear life. The Wildcats drove into WVU territory twice in the fourth quarter, but did not score.

Kansas State made it to the WVU 36 on the drive after the touchdown, but that drive ended thanks to a Keith Washington pass breakup on fourth down.

The Wildcats looked like like they had the winning connection when quarterback Skylar Thompson spied an open Dalton Schoen running a post pattern to the end zone with 30 seconds remaining. But West Virginia senior cornerback Hakeem Bailey closed that ground quickly, leaping in front of Schoen to snag the game-clinching interception at the 3-yard line.

“The guy was open. It’s a route we’ve had trouble with. They made a good call,” Brown said. “The ball kind of hung up and Bailey went in and made a good play.”

Brown felt it appropriate that Bailey in particular was the player who sealed the deal.

“Since we came in here in January, he’s really tried to do everything right,” Brown said. “So I think it was fitting for him in this win to make the play that kind of capped it off.”

With the win, the Mountaineers stayed alive for a bowl bid if they can close out with wins over Oklahoma State and TCU.

Highlight-reel play sidelines Norwood

West Virginia senior safety Josh Norwood’s career as a Mountaineer is apparently over after what might have been his finest play.

WVU radio sideline reporter Jed Drenning reported that Norwood broke his collarbone when he landed on the ground following an acrobatic second quarter interception of Skylar Thompson. Norwood had no chance to brace himself for a heavy fall after the remarkable grab.

HE SOARED FOR THIS INT 😲 pic.twitter.com/CtAp7CgFR6

— ESPN (@espn) November 16, 2019

“Tremendous play,” Brown said after the game. “I’ll probably talk more about him on Tuesday. Early indications are not good for him.”

It was the first — and, unfortunately, final — interception of Norwood’s career.

Legg shows off leg

Brown kept his faith in backup kicker Casey Legg, and it paid off in a big way when Legg drilled a 51-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Legg, starting his third game in place of the injured Evan Staley, missed a 37-yard try on the final play of the first half.

“I told him ‘we’re going to need you,’” Brown said. “He has really risen to the challenge. We wanted the wind in the fourth. We felt he could make one with the wind [at his back].”

Legg’s kick — his second career make — was the longest for a West Virginia kicker since Josh Lambert made a 51-yarder at TCU in 2015.

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Oak Glen rolls past Wyoming East for first home playoff win

Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

Oak Glen’s Hunter Patterson brings in a 25-yard touchdown reception against the defense of two Wyoming East players.

 

NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. — Oak Glen head coach Ted Arneault is well aware many people continue to question how good the No. 6 Golden Bears are despite an unbeaten regular season unbeaten.

Just as it’s done over the last several months, Arneault’s team continues to prove the naysayers wrong.

In Saturday’s first-round playoff matchup against No. 11 Wyoming East, Oak Glen displayed all the traits that has allowed it to win every game this season. The Golden Bears got four touchdown passes from quarterback Nick Chaney, added two more on the ground and even got two defensive scores to cruise to a 55-13 win over the Warriors.

“We know our schedule and everybody criticizes us because everybody just looks at records,” Arneault said. “But if you look at the teams we played, they have quality wins. We don’t feel like we’re not playoff tested. That’s everybody else that thinks that way. We came into this game feeling like we’d been tested by good teams. I think we proved that today.”

The victory was Oak Glen’s first home playoff win in school history and sends the Golden Bears to Poca for a quarterfinal between teams with identical 11-0 records.

Wyoming East (8-3) put together one of its better drives to start the game, but the Warriors fumbled a reverse in the red zone, and Oak Glen’s Gage Patterson returned the recovery 88 yards to the end zone for the first points.

“Too many turnovers,” first-year Wyoming East head coach Larry Thompson said.

After the Warriors turned it over on downs on their second series, the Golden Bears covered 71 yards in nine plays and scored on Chaney’s 25-yard pass to Hunter Patterson. Michael Lemley made a one-hand catch on the 2-point pass from Chaney, allowing the Golden Bears to lead 14-0 just 7 seconds into the second quarter.

Chaney found a wide open Gage Patterson for a 57-yard touchdown pass at the 7:56 mark of the second, and the duo connected on the 2-point play to up the lead to 22-0.

“We try to mix things up,” Arneault said. “The key to success in this game was offensively mixing it up. We need to run and pass, show formations and give different looks to not be one dimensional or too predictable.”

Oak Glen made one of its few mistakes late in the opening half. After starting a series at the Warriors’ 30, Chaney was intercepted by Chase York, who returned it 75 yards to get Wyoming East on the scoreboard 1:11 before halftime.

However, any chance for the Warriors to go to the break with momentum on their side was quickly erased. Wyoming East allowed Chaney to throw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Mineard on fourth-and-6 with only 8 seconds left in the half, which gave Oak Glen a 28-7 advantage.

“We were without Zach Taylor from his ejection in Week 10. We needed some guys to step up and really make things happen, and they did,” Arneault said.

The Golden Bears quickly put the game out of reach in the second half. Chaney found an uncovered Hunter Patterson for a 43-yard touchdown on the fifth play of the third quarter, and Warriors’ quarterback Seth Ross had a pass intercepted and returned 77 yards for a score by Lemley on the ensuing series.

“Wyoming East came in with a good game plan and gave us some trouble in the first quarter,” Arneault said. “But our defense held up and they were just outstanding. Props to our defense for the turnovers and holding down the explosive plays and making stuff happen.”

Paxton Shuman’s 6-yard TD run with 4:26 left in the third gave the Golden Bears a 49-7 lead.

In the fourth, Landon Beatty scored on a 1-yard run for the Golden Bears, before Ross’ 50-yard TD pass to Jacob Bishop capped the scoring in the contest.

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Photo gallery: Cabell Midland advances past Riverside, 42-6

ONA, W.Va. — Photos from No. 2 Cabell Midland’s 42-6 win over No. 15 Riverside in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs.

(Photos courtesy of John Hagley Photography)

 

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Oak Glen completes perfect season, rallies from 2 sets down to defeat Shady in AA final

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Coming into the Class AA state championship match, Oak Glen had posted a 37-0 record and they dropped only four sets all year long. Shady Spring nearly upset a run at perfection but the Golden Bears rallied from two sets down to defeat the Tigers 3-2.

Shady Spring (48-6-2) took the first two sets 25-15 and 25-23 before the Golden Bears rallied. Oak Glen won the third set 25-23 and the fourth set 25-17. In the fifth and decisive set, the Golden Bears ran off nine consecutive points and were never threatened, winning 15-5.

Oak Glen now owns seven state championships.

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Scoring summary: West Virginia stuns Kansas State for 24-20 victory

MANHATTAN, Kan. — West Virginia snapped a five-game losing streak, upsetting No. 24 Kansas State 24-20 for the biggest win of Neal Brown’s first season.

Cornerback Hakeem Bailey sealed the deal, intercepting Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson at the WVU 3-yard line with 28 seconds remaining.

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Fourth Quarter

West Virginia 24, Kansas State 20 (11:27)

With West Virginia facing a third-and-22, receiver Bryce Wheaton somehow slipped behind the Kansas State secondary for an improbable 50-yard touchdown reception. Wheaton was five yards past any Wildcat when he caught the ball after a prolonged scramble by Jarret Doege kept the play alive.

Kansas State 20, West Virginia 17 (14:07)

Casey Legg drilled a 51-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 3 on the first possession of the fourth quarter.

It was a very good outcome considering the Mountaineers went backwards on the drive, facing a third-and-31 after a pair of offensive line penalties.

Third Quarter

Kansas State 20, West Virginia 14 (7:56)

Any momentum that the Mountaineers might have had at halftime was dissolved by a drive that ate up nearly half of the third quarter before West Virginia touched the ball.

West Virginia seemed a sure bet to at least keep the Wildcats to a field goal before Skylar Thompson hit Dalton Schoen for a 16-yard gain on third-and-15 from the WVU 21. No one was near Schoen on the play as the Mountaineers were in a very soft zone coverage.

Running back James Gilbert took an option pitch from Thompson for a 3-yard touchdown to finish out the 13-play, 70-yard drive.

Second Quarter

West Virginia had an impressive drive to close the second quarter, moving 52 yards on five plays in just 37 seconds. Leddie Brown was the key player, gaining 34 yards on two carries.

However, Casey Legg pushed a 37-yard field goal wide left as time expired.

West Virginia 14, Kansas State 13 (0:43)

The Wildcats finally broke through in a quarter of defensive struggle on Blake Lynch’s 33-yard field goal to close out a 12-play scoring drive.

First Quarter

West Virginia 14, Kansas State (0:00)

Make that six touchdowns on 12 catches for George Campbell in 2019. Jarret Doege bought enough time with his legs on third-and-13 to find an open Campbell for a 15-yard score on the final play of the first quarter.

Kansas State 10, West Virginia 7 (4:43)

Wildcats quarterback made a pair of ridiculously pinpoint throws against tight coverage to help move his team into field goal range. The Mountaineers stiffened inside the 10 to limit the damage to a 22-yard Blake Lynch field goal.

Thompson has a 451.3 quarterback rating so far.

West Virginia 7, Kansas State 7 (11:05)

Quite an answer for Jarret Doege and the West Virginia offense. The Mountaineers marched 75 yards in just six plays, finished off on a 19-yard pass from Doege to George “Touchdown Machine” Campbell. Campbell now has five touchdown catches on 11 receptions this season.

Kansas State 7, West Virginia 0 (13:37)

Skylar Thompson hit Dalton Schoen for a 68-yard touchdown pass on K-State’s first offensive play. Thompson’s quarterback rating after the play is 1,001.2. No, really. That’s what it is.

Pregame

Quarterback Jarret Doege earned his first career start for West Virginia, replacing incumbent Austin Kendall.

The Mountaineers will also have a change at center, where Chase Behrndt was taking snaps with the No. 1 offensive line pregame.

Kicker Evan Staley is once again out with an injury. Casey Legg and Kolton McGhee warmed up on a very windy day in Manhattan.

Wide receiver TJ Simmons is out for the second straight week, but fellow wideout Sean Ryan is back in uniform for the first time since the Texas game.

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Wreck slows traffic on Turnpike at Ghent

GHENT, W.Va. — Traffic was slowed on the West Virginia Turnpike Saturday afternoon following a multi-vehicle crash at the Ghent toll plaza on I-77 in Raleigh County.

Two people were injured in the three-car crash, according to emergency authorities

At least one toll booth lane was closed as a result of the crash. State police are investigating.

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Rally in favor of Drag Queen Storytime

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — More than 100 people filled the sidewalk in front of the Morgantown Public Library Saturday morning for the Drag Queen Storytime Support Rally.

Mike Nolting/WAJR News

The rally took place Saturday.

The Drag Queen Storytime event was cancelled due to threats of disruption, violence and physical harm to the volunteer reader, according to library officials.

Third Ward councilman Zack Cruze attended the event and expressed disappointment that protests from groups outside Morgantown and Morgantown/Monongalia County residents made participants feel unsafe.

“Anyone that wants to volunteer can come and read,” Cruze said. “Morgantown is a very inclusive community, so it really isn’t fair to say that we’re inclusive, to say we have a non-discrimination policy and then say no we don’t want you to read at the library.”

Cruze told WAJR Radio News the rally had been planned well in advance of the cancellation.

“There was already a plan to have a rally and help people get into the library,” Cruze said. “Because the protesters were threatening violence and saying they were going to bring pepper spray and bullhorns.”

Cruze said it would very difficult to establish dialog with those opposed to the event.

“Some of these individuals have been threatening bodily harm towards members of the community,” Cruze said. “They’re saying the LGBT community is disgusting and sick, it’s difficult to sit down with someone when you know that just your existence makes them want to cause to harm you.”

Cruze said those for and against all pay taxes. .

“Every member of our community is a taxpayer, the LGBT community, we pay taxes just like everyone else,” Cruze said. “The event was even going to be held in the basement so that anyone coming to the library didn’t have to see it if they didn’t want to.”

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Wirt County claims 12th state volleyball title, sweeping Paden City

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Wirt County added another state championship to their prestigious volleyball history with a 3-0 victory over Paden City in the Class A state championship.

The Tigers won the first two sets by identical 25-17 scores and closed out the match with a 25-13 win in the final set.

Wirt County closed out the season with a 39-4-4 record. Paden City made their first state tournament appearance and wrapped up the year with a mark of 36-5.

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