SUTTON, W.Va. – We take a look at one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 season — the Cinderella of Double-A high school football — none other than the Braxton County Eagles.
What a turn-around it was for Braxton County last season. After going 1-9 each of the previous two seasons, the Eagles willed their way to a 6-2 regular season in 2020, making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“It’s all about overcoming adversity. Because, we started the year 0-2. We forfeited once, and we weren’t in shape for one,” said senior lineman, Isaiah Mowrey. “And then we thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to be better than all these people.’ So we started getting in shape, and that’s just how we do it.”
“Honestly, surreal. We all almost expected it. We knew we were a good team, but with the numbers we just didn’t know,” said senior wideout and safety, Cooper Schingler.
“It meant everything. It was, um, we came together as a team, came together as a family. Anything is possible,” head coach, Deandre Williams, said.
Last year’s Eagles starting squad was largely made up of seniors. It won’t be the same way this year, but those that are starting have the knowledge of what it takes to be great.
“The expectation is the same as last year – going to the playoffs,” said Andrew Pritt, a senior running back and linebacker. “Just being in shape and outworking the rest of the teams. That’s the only way to do it.”
“That’s Braxton County, you know. We have to prove people wrong. And this year, we just want to make the playoffs. We want to do more than make the playoffs. It’s shooting for Wheeling,” Mowrey said.
Logan Bennett takes over for an all-state player in Jett Cogar at the quarterback position. Cogar’s one of eight seniors who will need to be replaced this season.
“You don’t really replace players. You put more into the ones you have now. Those were a special group of players, and we have a special group of seniors and underclassmen here so we’ll just put it into them,” Williams said. “We have linemen that are playing running back. We have a lot of individuals who, when we first started, we didn’t think of position players. We thought of football players. So, most of them have to play the position that we need them to play. So, it’s individuals that’s playing multiple positions out there.”
The third-year head coach not only has a team hungry to prove last year was no fluke, but also has the benefit of playing four of their first six games at home, and just one game against a 2020 playoff team.
The Eagles are looking to prove the doubters wrong. And it starts next Friday, on the road, against Lincoln.