Red hot rivalry
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Sept. 6, Wyoming East High School's football stands will be overflowing with fans from both sides of Wyoming County. They'll all be gathered to see this year's battle for the Golden Shovel, the trophy that goes to the winner of the Wyoming East-Westside game.
"Winning is the most important thing, so beating your in-county rival makes it that much more important," said Wyoming East running back Jacob Summe.
It has been five years since Wyoming East has beaten Westside in football, and Westside quarterback Justin Cogar believes this year will be another Westside win.
"I'm extremely confident that our team can pull off the sixth win in a row," he said. "We worked hard in the off-season to prepare ourselves, and I know we'll be ready for Wyoming East."
Last year's Golden Shovel game almost turned into a loss for Westside. In the fourth quarter, the Wyoming East Warriors came back to put the final score at 22 for Westside and 20 for Wyoming East.
Summe said, "We just made too many mistakes in the beginning. We really picked it up in the fourth quarter, but it was just a little too late."
When asked if he was nervous when Wyoming East's score kept rising during that quarter, Cogar said, "Not at all. We knew they were going to give us their best shot, and our coaches prepared us well. We stayed composed even when it got close, and that was the difference in the game."
Westside is looking at some new changes this year with a new coach and principal. The new head coach is Larry Cook.
"This is my 21st year coaching high school football, and this will make my 14th as head coach but my first year as Westside's head coach," he said. "We don't plan on changing a lot."
Both teams are determined to have the Golden Shovel in their showcase, but only one team can have it.
"Westside is the most important game to us at East, and we haven't had the golden shovel at East in a long time. Our senior class has never held the golden shovel," said Summe, who is a senior.
Cogar, a junior, made it clear that Westside is going to work hard in practice to keep the shovel, but said the team doesn't plan to treat the game any differently from others.
"When it comes time for the East game, we'll treat it like every other game and go out and execute our game plan," he said. "This is the game every football player in Wyoming County dreams about. It's always a really fun, yet intense game."
Coach Cook said, "We have a great group of seniors at Westside that has a lot of pride, and they do not want to be the class to give up the shovel after winning it for five straight years.
"We want to win every game, not just this one," he continued. "We have Liberty for week one and will not think about week two until that time, but it is one game that our kids do not need a pep speech."
There is one thing that almost every Westside and Wyoming East fan can agree on, and that is the East and West rivalry is the best in West Virginia.
"I absolutely believe it is the biggest rivalry in the state," Cogar said. "People who aren't from around here don't understand, but it's the craziest atmosphere I've been a part of either in the stands or in the game." "Both teams push harder than ever the week before the game, and it all comes down to who makes less mistakes and who wants it more," Summe said. "And this year, 'W.E.' want it more."