Memories of past state title games

By Frank Giardina
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State championship football weekend always brings back memories of past state title games, athletes and coaches. Here some of the names and games I am thinking of this weekend:
  • Robert Alexander: One of the best football players in our state's history, "Alexander the Great" was a consensus high school All-American running back and was recruited by USC, Penn State, Ohio State and every major program in the country. He and his South Charleston teammates played in the AAA state title game in 1975 and lost to Bluefield 20-6 in Bluefield.
  • Ansted dynasty: The Highlanders were the talk of Fayette County from 1971-73 when they won 36 straight games and two Class A state titles.  There was plenty of star power with coach Roger Eades, quarterback Dan Cameron and running backs Roger Harrah and Tom Pridemore. Pridemore was a multi-year starter at defensive back for WVU and played eight years with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. 
  • Don Arthur: He was the coach at East Bank when the Pioneers won state titles in 1971 (over Morgantown) and 1973 (over Weirton).
  • DuPont in the 1970s: DuPont had three appearances in the state title game with quarterbacks Danny Williams, Mike Williams and Mark Shannon and other stars such as tight end and Pitt signee Denny Ballard, fullback-linebacker and Wyoming signee Bob Casebolt and sprint star Eddie Saunders.
  • DuPont in the 1990s: The 1992 and 1993 DuPont teams that cruised by Brooke and Capital in state title games had the finest collection of players our state has ever seen. Randy Moss is the best player in our state's history and will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Bobbie Howard went on to be a captain at Notre Dame; and Sam Singleton was a seventh-round baseball draft pick by Milwaukee. The Panthers also played in the AA state title game in 1998.
  • Claude Geiger: A running back on the 1971 and 1973 East Bank title teams, Geiger was also one of the best track hurdlers in state history. He started his college career at Michigan State and transferred to Marshall.
  • J.R. House: In one of the more unusual AAA state title games, House and Nitro defeated Morgantown 69-52 in 1998 as House threw 10 touchdown passes. Nitro also won a star-studded semifinal game over a Parkersburg team that featured future major-leaguer Nick Swisher and Penn State signee Scott Davis.
  • Huntington 1966: The appearance in the AAA title game by the "new" Huntington High this weekend was the first since the "old" Huntington High in 1966, a team led by Alan Wild and John Hale. After knocking off Melvin Riggins and Charleston to earn a berth in the two-team playoff, most in the state expected the Pony Express to handle Buckhannon-Upshur in the title game, but the Buck-Ups won 21-2.
  • 1960 AA final: The game ended as one of the rare tie games in state title history as Mount Hope and Williamson played to a 7-7 deadlock. No overtime back then. Do you celebrate after tying a state title game? Well, I guess you didn't lose, so maybe you at least treat yourself to a chocolate milkshake.
  • Grayson Proffit: The versatile Proffit was a member of the 1969, 1970 and 1971 Charleston High teams that won three state titles. He runs a Christian school  in South Carolina.
  • Reach Frank Giardina at  
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