Bulldogs, Shepherd in familiar territory
This is getting all too familiar.
Martinsburg and Shepherd.
Shepherd and Martinsburg.
Whichever order, they continue to share the top of the football world in West Virginia and keep playing in championship games.
Martinsburg, which won a record four state Class AAA championships in a row, will be playing in its fifth state championship in seven seasons. The Bulldogs reached four finals earlier this century.
Shepherd has advanced to its third Super Region 1 championship game in four seasons. The Rams also reached the final in 2010 and won for its first regional title.
The two of them are back to where they belong, it seems.
They both will be playing in their respective championship game on Saturday.
Geographically, they’ll be close to each other, too, just one county apart in separate states as Martinsburg takes on Spring Valley in Wheeling and Shepherd will be playing at California of Pennsylvania.
Despite the proximity, though, Martinsburg’s game is at noon and Shepherd’s at 1 p.m.
Much of the credit for the success of each one goes to the head coaches, who, if asked about it, would then deflect to the work of their assistant coaches and the attention and dedication of their players.
Both David Walker of Martinsburg and Monte Cater of Shepherd are masters of their craft and run the best programs in the Mountain State.
It’s not even close.
The two are winners, big winners.
Walker has no equal in the high school ranks, and Cater none at the collegiate level, and that includes the big universities.
Cater quietly moved to the top of the winningest active NCAA football coach with the recent retirement of Ken Sparks at Carson-Newman. Cater has 262 wins.
Walker is the winningest coach in terms of playoff victories and is among the top five all-time in the state for high school.
Both are legends in their arenas, as accomplished as they are.
It was suggested the other night as an aside by a Martinsburg alumnus that maybe it was time for “Walker Stadium at Cobourn Field” as a tribute to the current coach and the one to the well-liked one for whom the facility is named.
Is there any current coach any more deserving?
In the same vein, is it not time for Shepherd to name some part of its stadium – maybe the stadium itself ? – for Cater, too?
What they have accomplished is remarkable. The consistency is unequaled.
Their programs reflect what they do.
Now both teams are back in championship games.
If it seems all too familiar, it is.
Two teams with championship pedigree on the field for finals again as their success continues.
It’s Martinsburg in the high school state title game and Shepherd in the super region championship game.
The bad part is both games will be contested at the same time, prohibiting Eastern Panhandle fans from attending both.
Maybe the WVSSAC and NCAA can negotiate some time changes to enable fans from the Eastern Panhandle to watch both games.
Like that will happen.
One more championship for both the Bulldogs and Rams is each much more likely.