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Prep football: Poca savors end of long losing streak

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Poca football coach Seth Ramsey talks with his players before practice.

A lot of emotions came spilling out of the Poca locker room Friday following a 30-0 victory at Buffalo, a result that finally ended the Dots’ long losing streak.

It had been nearly four years to the day — Sept. 13, 2013 — since the proud Poca program could celebrate a win, and that albatross had followed the Dots around for 39 games and parts of five different seasons.

But they washed it all away in one night’s work.

“It was very jubilant, a lot of excitement, a lot of relief,’’ Poca coach Seth Ramsey said of the team’s postgame celebration. “A lot of them felt the burden lifted off their shoulders.

“They were finally able to break through and get a win, to see some tangible results and see some success. It was very gratifying.’’

The Dots hadn’t experienced many close games in their 39-game dry spell; in fact, only twice had they come within 15 points of their opponents. That included the first game of the streak, a 34-31 loss to Chapmanville in 2013 and then a 9-6 setback in last season’s opener versus Nitro.

Interestingly, the streak both began and ended with games involving Putnam County rival Buffalo — the Bison provided the Dots with their last previous victory, as Poca prevailed 32-28 in 2013.

Ramsey said he can see Friday’s win sparking some changes in his squad — but definitely not in the area of preparation for upcoming games.

“I definitely think it changes their confidence,’’ he said, “but I don’t think it changes the way we prepare. Our guys get after it pretty well every week. They do a good job in Monday’s film sessions, a good job of installing stuff on Tuesdays, a good job Wednesday and in our Thursday run-throughs. Our guys do a good job of staying on task.

“I don’t think our preparation will change. The thing that will definitely change is our confidence, and maybe the excitement [level]. Just our outlook. Those are things that will change a little bit.’’

Poca (1-2) hosts Logan (1-2) on Friday, then begins a three-game run against Class AA playoff teams from a year ago in defending champion Mingo Central, Sissonville and Winfield. Those three teams went a combined 30-6 last season.

One win is a long way from where Poca’s program used to reside — at or near the top of the heap. The Dots became the first team to capture three Class AA championships in a row (2001-03) and have claimed six state titles total.

Reality, though, can wait a couple of days while the Dots savor the end of the state’s second-longest losing streak of all time. The only one longer remains current: Hundred, a Class A school in Wetzel County, dropped its 41st straight on Friday, losing to Beallsville (Ohio) 51-0.

Ramsey said he draws the most satisfaction for two of his senior players — receiver-defensive back Kenny Gibson and fullback-defensive lineman Harris Sigmon — who have been with the program all four years and were just able to experience their first victory.

“They stuck it out through all the ups and downs,’’ Ramsey said. “I’m really just proud for them, happy for them to finally get a win.’’

As a footnote, Ramsey also ended a personal losing streak that was even longer than his team’s.

He had gone 0-10 in his first two seasons as Dots coach, and was an assistant on the 0-10 Poca team in 2014. The year before that, he was on Mike Sawyer’s coaching staff when Buffalo went 0-10 in 2013. He wasn’t in coaching for the 2012 season, so Ramsey was riding an unenviable 42-game losing streak entering Friday’s game.

“I’ve won plenty of football games in my life,’’ Ramsey said, “but I’m glad [my players] got to experience things at that level. I’m really excited and proud of our kids for all the hard work they’ve put in.’’

GW reinforcements

George Washington expects three new skill-position players to become eligible for Friday’s game at Spring Valley — all of them holdovers from the basketball team.

Justin Phillips, the Patriots’ first-team all-stater in basketball, and Anthony Clendenin will likely play wide receiver, and Josh Alford is expected to play tight end.

Big-game hunting

Some of this week’s top attractions:

AAA — University (3-0) at Wheeling Park (2-1); Spring Mills (2-1) at Martinsburg (3-0); Capital (2-1) at Cabell Midland (2-1);

AA — Fairmont Senior (3-0) at Bridgeport (3-0); Sissonville (3-0) at Mingo Central (3-0); North Marion (2-1) at Elkins (2-0); Philip Barbour (2-1) at Liberty Harrison (2-0); James Monroe (2-1) at PikeView (2-1);

AA-A — Van (2-1) at Lincoln County (2-1);

A — Marietta, Ohio (3-0) at St. Marys (2-0); Pocahontas County (3-0) at East Hardy (3-0); Tug Valley (2-1) at Phelps, Kentucky (3-0); Steubenville Central, Ohio (2-1) at South Harrison (2-0); River, Ohio (2-1) at Magnolia (2-1).

Don’t forget

The SSAC releases its first set of playoff ratings on Tuesday. The top 16 schools in each class advance to the postseason.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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