FAIRMONT — If you thought 12th Street had lost its mojo, well, think again.
Fairmont Senior went into Friday night having uncharacteristically lost three straight home games at East-West Stadium on 12th Street, and with Class AAA No. 2 behemoth Spring Valley — a squad that last time out snapped Martinsburg’s historic 57-game win streak — coming to town, a four-game home skid was all but a given.
But whatever notion of Fairmont Senior’s standing had materialized in the week leading up to kickoff versus the Timberwolves was completely upended by the time of the final horn on Friday night as the Polar Bears shocked Spring Valley 27-18 in a stunning upset that sent ripple effects across the entire state.
“We always talk about the 12th Street mystique, but we had lost it a little bit losing three in a row here,” said Fairmont Senior coach Nick Bartic, whose Polar Bears owned a 26-game home winning streak before losing to Bluefield in last year’s Class AA state semifinals. “These guys, we have to give them credit: I think they’ve returned the mystique back to 12th Street.”
The monumental upset, which will go down as perhaps Fairmont Senior’s greatest ever regular-season victory, was powered by senior quarterback Gage Michael and a newfound competitive toughness from an FSHS front seven that had taken it on the chin in losses to Bridgeport and Musselman. Michael burned the Timberwolves defense for 210 rush yards, 107 pass yards, and four total touchdowns, while Fairmont Senior’s defense limited Spring Valley’s vaunted road-grading offense to a mere 12 points until a meaningless touchdown on the game’s final play.
“We knew the last three times we had played on 12th Street that we lost, and that’s the worst feeling in the world to lose on your home field,” said Michael, who had 171 of his 210 rush yards in the second half. “We talk about defending 12th Street all the time — it’s our home and we love it and we’d do anything to protect it — and we were able to do that tonight.”
Spring Valley outgained Fairmont Senior 387-360, but two fumbles, an interception, and a bevy of drive-killing holding penalties were the Timberwolves’ kryptonite.