Martinsburg has ruled high school football for the soon-to-conclude decade. The Bulldogs’ eight Class AAA state championships in 10 seasons provide all of the necessary evidence.
Naturally, discussion focuses on which one of the eight championship teams is the best.
“I’m asked that quite often,” Martinsburg coach David Walker said. “At this time of the year, the last few years, a few times a week. If I’m in the store, people will stop me and ask.”
The Bulldogs have won four championships in a row — twice. The first run began in the 2010 season and continued in 2011, ’12 and ’13 until the run ended. Martinsburg is in the midst of its second four-year run, covering 2016, ’17, ’18 and ’19.
Eight teams, eight titles, the latest coming a week ago in a 49-21 victory over Cabell Midland to conclude Martinsburg’s fourth 14-0 season in a row.
“All of them have a special place,” Walker said. “One thing they have in common, all of them are state champions.”
The current team is certainly in the running as Martinsburg’s best, given that the Bulldogs averaged a state-record 61.36 points per game for a full season, to go with their record 56 wins in a row.
Significantly telling, as well, the West Virginia Sports Writers Association has named 12 different players from Martinsburg as All-State players on either the first or second team. The first team includes seven players from Martinsburg and five on the second squad in Class AAA announced today. Naturally, the captains for each of the offensive units come from Martinsburg, too.
Wide receiver Jarod Bowie, who caught three touchdown passes and had a punt return TD nullified by penalty in the state championship game, leads the first team as the unit’s captain. Running back Naieem Kearney, a second-teamer for a second year in a row, stands atop the second squad.
In addition to Bowie, the other first-team players from Martinsburg on offense include lineman Ty Lucas, utility selection Elijah Banks, a quarterback, and kicker Chris Catlett. The defensive honorees for the Bulldogs are lineman Matthew Bednarski, linebacker Trey Sine and defensive back Teddy Marshall.
The Bulldogs’ second-team honorees include running backs Kearney and Kevon Warren, defensive lineman Terrel Goode, linebacker Malakai Brown and defensive back Anthony Smith.
“They were a special group,” Walker said, “and stayed healthy and worked hard and made my job easier.”
The rest of the first-team offense includes quarterback Alex Dunlevy from Wheeling Park; running backs Jacob Hartman of Musselman, Caden Easterling from Riverside and Jakob Caudill of Cabell Midland; wide receiver Dylan Day of Parkersburg South; offensive linemen Wyatt Milum of Spring Valley, Jackson Oxley of Cabell Midland, Terrance Pankey of Huntington, Ian Pomeroy of Woodrow Wilson; and utility honorees J.J. Roberts of Cabell Midland and Chance Knox of Capital.
On defense, besides Martinsburg’s threesome, the second team is comprised of linemen Zeiqui Lawton of South Charleston, Braxton Amos of Parkersburg South, Zach McCoy of Cabell Midland and C.J. Wade of Parkersburg; linebackers Brocton Blair of Huntington and Logan Spurlock of Capital; defensive backs Kerion Martin of Capital and David Livingston of Spring Mills; punter Michael Hughes of George Washington; and utility players Devin Heath of Hedgesville, Brandon Penn of Parkersburg South and Preston Fox of Morgantown.
The do-it-all Penn was named as the first-team defensive captain.
Bowie leads the list of players from Martinsburg after a championship season that saw him account for 2,117 all-purpose yardage. He managed 1,078 yards and 18 touchdowns on 45 pass receptions, 821 yards and six touchdowns on a combined 22 punt and kickoff returns and 218 yards and two touchdowns on 12 rushes.
His teammate Banks, the player throwing the passes, managed a utility spot by completing 123 of 195 passes for 2,460 yards and 44 touchdowns and running for 144 yards and 10 touchdowns as a quarterback.
Catlett, also an all-state soccer player, reached 101 kicking points for the Bulldogs, just three short of the state record. He made 86 point-after kicks and five field goals.
Lucas led an offensive line that helped Martinsburg’s unit average 411 yards of total offense per game and kept Banks upright, allowing just two sacks all season.
Defensively for the Bulldogs’ first-team all-state performers, Bednarski had 13 tackles for loss among his 66 tackles as a defensive lineman, Sine’s 107 tackles led Martinsburg and Marshall, a two-time second-team all-state player, shared the team lead in interceptions with five and added another five pass breakups.
State runner-up Cabell Midland, which lost its only game in the final, was led on the all-state team by Caudill, a junior running back, and Roberts, a running quarterback who has committed to play defensive back at Division I Wake Forest. Caudill rushed for 1,924 yards this season and Roberts 1,497. A third honoree, Oxley, helped a run-oriented offense account for more than 5,000 yards on the ground this season. McCoy, a lineman, earned Cabell Midland’s lone defensive spot on first team.
As for other members of the all-state first team offense, Dunlevy passed for 2,808 yards and 30 touchdowns at quarterback while adding 400 rushing yards with seven touchdowns on the ground. Easterling rushed for 1,543 yards in leading Riverside back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Hartman, a junior who has achieved all-state status since his ninth-grade year, rushed for 2,109 yards and 29 touchdowns. He added 27 receptions for 505 yards and six touchdowns. He finished with 232 points despite missing Musselman’s quarterfinal playoff loss to Parkerburg South because of an injury. Day caught 61 passes for 1,027 yards and eight touchdowns.
Knox demonstrated his versatility by playing running back for five games and wide receiver for seven. He ran for 365 yards and caught 52 passes for 554 yards, combing for 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, Penn led Parkersburg South, a state semifinalist, in tackles with 145 and picked off nine passes. On offense, Penn, who underwent surgery after suffering a back injury in the Patriots’ playoff loss to Martinsburg, rushed for 1,610 yards and completed 141 of 248 passes for a combined 44 touchdowns.
The other two utility defenders proved just as versatile. Heath averaged 40.9 yards on punts while leading Hedgesville in tackles with 102. He averaged 20.4 yards on 41 pass receptions with six touchdowns and added 630 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He returned 27 punts for 966 yards (a 35.8 yard average) and scored one touchdown.
Fox registered 93 tackles and had one interception on defense, while, offensively, he rushed for 376 yards, had 760 yards on pass receptions and 569 return yards. He scored 10 touchdowns. Penn’s teammate, Amos, had 75 tackles, 33 of them for loss with 5.5 sacks on the defensive line. He blocked four punts.
Of Lawton’s 82 tackles, 26 were for loss and 12 for sacks. McCoy managed 104 stops with 10.5 sacks.
At linebacker, Spurlock led Capital in tackles for a second straight season and returned an interception for a touchdown. Also a kicking specialist, he managed three field goals and averaged about 40 yards per punt. Blair managed 125 tackles, 20 of them for loss, and had eight sacks. He also forced four fumbles and recovered just as many while intercepting four passes and blocking three kicks.
In the secondary, Martin was a key figure for Capital. Offensively, he grabbed 27 passes for 571 yards with eight touchdowns. Livingston broke up five passes and intercepted three of them. He had 59 tackles, six of them for loss. Hughes averaged 39.6 yards per punt and also accounted for four field goals.
Defensive back Romeo Dunham of South Charleston is the captain of the second-team defense.