MILL CREEK, W.Va – The Tygarts Valley football team is not often the biggest or most physically impressive team in Class A but if you ask the folks in Mill Creek, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re the toughest.
In a season where injuries to crucial starters on both sides of the ball led to some tough midseason losses, the Bulldogs finished 4-6 last season.
As head coach Rodney Bright embarks on his fifth season at the helm, he looks back at the previous year with some silver linings that he feels have his guys ready to go in 2022.
“Last year, our record didn’t show quite what we had,” he said, “Four of those losses were by less than a touchdown. One was in overtime and we had four starters out, two-way starters during that time frame so for losing 16 seniors off the year before that, we had a pretty good season and we could have been a little bit better if we’d have stayed healthy.”
The mentality that the Bulldogs bring to the field every day is the most important aspect of their success when the Friday nights finally do come around.
Putting together a team with limited numbers and not always the most physical size, Bright is well aware of how important the intensity his guys play ith is.
“I’ve been coaching up here for 15 years, counting youth and all and I don’t think we’ve ever been the biggest team on the field. We’re small wherever we go so the boys have got to be full of fight, we’ve got to be in shape and their tough,” he said.
While the roster may be a little bit smaller this year for Tygarts Valley, the talent is still there with starting quarterback Luke Bright embarking on his second year under center, 1,000 yard rusher Nathaniel Hulver in the backfield and a large crop of talented underclassman waiting for their chance.
“We’ve got a lot of talent. Some of them are young,,” senior running back Derrick Gear said, “Most of our team are freshman but they’re pretty good and they’re getting the hang of things already so here in the future, we’ll have a pretty good team but right now I think the few seniors can carry us all.”
While Hulver may be the standout name returning on the roster for the Bulldogs this season, he operates with the same mentality as many within the Tygarts Valley program: this is a family and we are going to fight for it day in and day out.
“There’s nothing like it, man,” he said, “They know what they’re doing, great work. It’s just everything to me. Them men in there, they’re my family.”
With a return to the postseason on their minds and a tight bond between the players, the Tygarts Valley Bulldogs have a pretty clear objective ahead of themselves this fall.
“I’m excited to see how far we can go. We all know each other and we’ve been together for a while and I think we can go pretty far, deep into the playoffs,” Gear said.
Tygarts Valley opens up the 2022 season on the road, taking on Valley Wetzel on August 26.