The Voice of West Virginia
Class A All-State Football Team as Selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association
QB – Layton Dowdy, James Monroe, Soph.
RB – Ty Nickell, Greenbrier West, Sr.
RB – Lorenzo Ferrera, Wheeling Central, Sr.
RB – Rickie Allen, Williamstown, Sr. (Captain)
WR – Maddox Anderson, Tucker County, Jr.
WR – Cody Harrell, Midland Trail, Sr.
OL – Aiden Corbett, Williamstown, Jr.
OL – Luke Given, South Harrison, Soph.
OL – Deante Suggs, Wheeling Central, Sr.
OL – Jeffrey Jones, James Monroe, Sr.
OL – Austin Morgan, Pocahontas County, Sr.
U – Maxwell Molessa, Williamstown, Jr.
U – Cooper Ridgeway, James Monroe, Jr.
U – Sawyer Vanmatre, Wahama, Jr.
K – Eli Tucker, Wheeling Central, Jr.
DL – Adam Burnside, Doddridge County, Sr.
DL – Justin Parker, East Hardy, Jr.
DL – Brady Baker, James Monroe, Soph.
DL – Harbor Haught, Williamstown, Sr.
LB – Adam Angel, Cameron, Sr.
LB – Noah Burnside, South Harrison, Sr.
LB – Mason Miller, East Hardy, Sr.
LB – Bryce McKinney, Doddridge County, Sr.
DB – Eli Allen, James Monroe, Sr. (Captain)
DB – Colt Hesson, Williamstown, Jr.
U – Buddy Marcum, Tug Valley, Jr.
U – Seth Richards, Doddridge, Sr.
U – Sean Winfrey, Tyler Consolidated, Jr.
U – Ethan Holliday, Greenbrier West, Jr.
P – Peyton Amos, Webster County, Sr.
QB – Ethan Rosenau, Tucker County, Jr. (CAPTAIN)
RB – Jordan Adams, Man, Sr.
RB – Joey Ramsey, St Marys, Sr.
RB – Peyton Day, Petersburg, Sr.
WR – Gabe Stewart, Doddridge, Jr
WR – Cole Burkett, Cameron, Sr.
OL – Trey Ohlinger, Wahama, Sr.
OL – Charles Ibbeson, Doddridge County, Sr.
OL – Braden Whitelatch, Wheeling Central, Sr.
OL – Reney Cordial, Greenbrier West, Sr.
OL – Jacob Proffitt, James Monroe, Sr.
U – Ethan Haught, Ritchie County, Sr.
U – Drake Cole, Summers County, Jr.
U – Brady Green, Van, Sr.
K – Owen Jackson, James Monroe, Sr.
DL – Peyton Girard, St. Marys, Sr.
DL – Chayse Myers, Moorefield, Soph.
DL – Cole Vandall, Greenbrier West, Jr.
DL – Ty Walton, Tyler Consolidated, Sr.
LB – Riley Watkins, Wheeling Central (CAPTAIN), Sr.
LB – Chase Parsons, Wirt County, Jr.
LB – Andrew Roush, Wahama, Sr.
LB – Tyson Adkins, Summers County, Soph.
DB – DeShawn Middleton, Wirt County, Sr.
DB – Bryson Elia, Tug Valley. Fr.
DB – Duke Dodson, Summers County, Sr.
U – Levi Teets, Trinity, Sr.,
U – Zac Hall, Clay-Battelle, Jr.
U – Payton Neely, Cameron, Sr.
P – Johnathan Huff, Mount View, Sr.
Blaike Adams, Tucker County; .Joey Baker, Paden City; Matt Barr, Wahama; Austin Bartlett, Ritchie County; Luke Bartram, Tug Valley; Chazz Boggs, James Monroe; Luke Bright, Tygarts Valley; Jayden Brumfield, Man; Gunnar Bryan, Cameron; Braydie Carr, James Monroe; Logan Carver, Montcalm; Mason Chisler, Clay-Battelle; Cole Cogar, Gilmer County; Keaton Crowder, Richwood; Ashton Davis, Tug Valley; Caden Davis, South Harrison; Peyton Day, Petersburg; Gavin Derby, Valley; Virgil Dorion, Valley; Matthew Gaad, Clay-Battelle; Chris Goins, Mount View; Timothy Hager, Sherman; Colton Hall, Gilmer County; Evan Hamrick, Pocahontas County; Brad Harris, Buffalo; Ashton Haslacker, East Hardy; Dalton Heath, Greenbrier West; Cody Houser, St. Marys; Patrick Higginbotham, Valley; Trenton Huffman, Doddridge County; Chris Isaacs, Man; Jacob Kassay, Clay-Battelle; Miles Kidwell, East Hardy; Adam Landes, Moorefield; Landen Lafferty, South Harrison; Lucas McCallister, Madonna; Josh Moody, Buffalo; Aiden Moreno, South Harrison; Dominick Mullenax, Tucker County; Seaton Mullins, Meadow Bridge; Ryan Oliveros, Summers County; Ian Persinger, Calhoun County; Dawson Price, East Hardy; Michael Radcliff, South Harrison; Jared Reall, Tucker County; Andrew Roush, Wahama; Jaden Sayre, Ravenswood; Carson Shriver, Clay-Battelle; Maddox Shriver, Clay-Battelle; Adam Slone, Tug Valley; Joseph Stewart, Van; Bryce Taylor, Summers County; Jaxon Tipton, Man; Blake Turner, Petersburg; Michael VanMatre, Wahama; Bumby Van Meter, Petersburg; Owan Velazquez, St. Marys; Logan White, Williamstown; Trenton Wilfong, Tucker County; Zack Wise, Hundred; Jaylen Younger, Montcalm
Four years ago, Ray Chavez, the oldest U.S. military survivor of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, passed away at age 106. His death reminded me of Jim Downing, who at 104 was the second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor.
I interviewed the retired Navy Lt. when he came to Morgantown in November, 2017 to participate in a ceremony at West Virginia University’s Oglebay Plaza, where the mast and bell from the USS West Virginia reside. Those artifacts had special meaning for Downing since he served on the West Virginia.*
I thought Chavez’s death would then make Downing the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor. However, I was saddened to learn that Downing had passed away earlier in the year from complications after surgery.
Downing was among the sailors who acted heroically 81 years ago today during and after the Japanese attack on the unsuspecting Navy fleet docked at the Hawaiian port. Downing happened to be on land that morning when two bombs and seven aerial torpedoes struck the West Virginia, killing 106 men.
Unable to get back on the burning ship, Downing slid down a gun barrel onto the USS Tennessee. He grabbed a fire hose and sprayed water on ammunition stored on deck to try to keep it from exploding.
“I saw these bodies lying around,” he told me in our interview. “It occurred to me that their parents would never know how they spent their last hours.” Downing was the mail clerk on the West Virginia so he knew many of the names of the dead sailors.
Downing tried to memorize as many names as he could and later wrote the families personal letters. He did the same for wounded sailors in the hospital. “I took a notebook and said, ‘if you give me your parents address and dictate a paragraph, I’ll see that they get it,’” he told them.
Eight years after the war, Downing came face-to-face with the man who was the air commander of the deadly attack, when Mitsuo Fuchida returned to Pearl Harbor. Fuchida had converted to Christianity, and that opened the door for Fuchida and Downing to reconcile, since Downing was a devout Christian.
But despite Downing’s faith, forgiveness did not come easily. He wrote in his book, The Other Side of Infamy, that he could not shake Fuchida’s hand. “My right arm stayed at my side. I looked Fuchida in the eye and said, ‘I was on the West Virginia during the attack.’”
Several years later, Downing softened on Fuchida, believing the man who was once his mortal enemy was truly sorry for the attack. “Jesus forgave his killers, and he calls upon Christians to forgive those who wrong us,” he wrote in his book. “For my part, I can now say that in my heart I have forgiven Mitsuo Fuchida for his role in the Pearl Harbor attack.”
For the generation that lived through World War II, the rallying cry was “Remember Pearl Harbor.” On this anniversary, we remember not only the heinous attack, but also the personal stories of men like Jim Downing.
*(Editor’s note: Downing entered the Navy in 1932 and, after training, was assigned to the USS West Virginia. The bell from the original ship, an armored cruiser, is at Oglebay Plaza. The bell from the battleship that was sunk at Pearl Harbor is at the West Virginia State Museum.)
(Editor’s note 2: Portions of this commentary appeared in a similar commentary in November 2017 and 2018.)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – What was once the largest state-of-the-art gun-related facility in the state, is now temporary property of the city of Morgantown by a 4 to 3 vote. Councilors Joe Abu-Ghannam, Bill Kawecki, Dave Harshbarger and Mayor Jenny Selin voted in favor while Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble, Councilors Brian Butcher and Ixya Vega voted “no.”
City council approved a ten-year lease with Glenmark Holding LLC of the former location of Defense in Depth in Sabraton with $500,000 down and annual payments of $240,000.
The proposal was approved by a vote of 6 to 1 Oct. 18, but had been tabled until it returned to the agenda for the Dec. 6 meeting. Deputy Mayor from Fifth Ward Danielle Trumble was the lone dissenting vote.
The facility would be staffed by the Morgantown Police Department Training Officer, the department armorer and the city would keep the existing Defense in Depth employee that is a certified trainer and has managed the continuous use contracts.
Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble expressed surprise and concern that City Manager Kim Haws disclosed publicly negotiations for the more than 19,000-square foot facility and equipment had been going on for the last 18 months. The item was not discussed in a public meeting until the fall of this year.
“I would really, really like the public to know that I have not been quiet about this for a year-and-a-half,” Tumble said. ” Council was not, or at least myself, was not included on any of that until about three moths ago it was brought to us.”
Resident and Morgantown city council candidate James Giuliani told councilors the proposal comes without solid budget information and the Finance Director, Kevin Tennant was not at the meeting to answer questions. Most of all, Giuliani expressed frustration that it appeared there was no research done on the possibility of other, less expensive options.
Giuliani added that a greater positive impact would be felt in the community if that investment was allocated to increase police presence in downtown. Reports of open drug use, violence and threats have been on a steep increase in the current year.
“Place the police in our downtown. That is our primary problem that all the citizens will tell you,” Giuliani said. “They will not come to our downtown and without citizens coming to our downtown, we don’t have a downtown.”
City Manager Kim Haws said there would be general fund exposure to the city, but that would depend on fees collected for use.
“In terms of risk as a city, the best case scenario is that we would need to come up with $127,000 approximately out of our general fund every year to sustain this,” Haws said. ” The worst case scenario is about $156,000.”
Morgantown Police Chief Eric Powell explained the facility is very unique and would give the department an advantage when it comes to retention and recruiting. Additionally while not giving a number of clients, Powell said he has contacted a number existing contract users of the facility who he said are willing to continue using the facility for fee.
“I actually had to give some assurances that already scheduled things would happen on schedule if we were to take ownership of the facility,” Powell told council members.
Second Ward Councilor Bill Kawecki also expressed concern about the financial burden on the city. But, he likened it to a building a parking garage in hopes that people would use it to patronize local business and pay the total cost of the project.
“these are all things that we kind of just take our chances,” Kawecki said. “In this particular instance I think our chances here are pretty good that it’s going to be beneficial in the long run for our police force.”
Chief Powell said the facility will add structure and continuity to training and give officers in the region an indoor training facility.
“It’s always been in basements, garages, ot this place, or that place or my uncle has a place,” Powell said. “That is literally what we’re dealing with.”
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There appear to be some modest gains in the number of nurses working in West Virginia.
State lawmakers heard a report during legislative interim committee meetings Tuesday at the state capitol.
“We did see a small number increase, about 1.6 percent increase in the number of nurses who report working in West Virginia,” West Virginia Center of Nursing Administrator Jordyn Reed said. “So, while overall numbers of those licensed in the state has decreased a little bit, we have seen the number who are working in West Virginia modestly.”
One program that has provided many gains is the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship program that comes with a post-graduation service obligation. The program accounts for 75% of the annual budget for the West Virginia Center for Nursing and since 2006 more than $3.5 million has been allocated to scholarships, according to Reed.
“As of August of 2020, we did an analysis of that program and found 88.7-percent of service obligation completers still maintain an active West Virginia nursing license,” Reed said. “It’s one of the most successful programs that we have.”
Reed said about 230 middle and high school students are currently working toward a career in nursing in the Nursing Academy. There are 22 academies across the state that provide education, job shadowing, mentoring and practical exercises designed to get students interested in nursing careers.
According to West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Senior Diretor of Financial Brian Weingart, once those students and others looking for a career in nursing graduate they have access to things like the Promise Scholarship, Invests Grant or the Higher Education Grant.
“In 2021-22 we had over 15,000 students receive the Higher Education Grant and over 66% t attend one of the four-year institutions in the state,” Weingart told lawmakers.
Another successful program was the Balance West Virginia program modeled after the WVU Outdoor Collaborative Ascend program. Balance was a national campaign offering incentives for nurses to relocate. The service obligation in the Balance program is tied directly to the relocation bonus.
“From May through September that we had funding for that project we brought in 102 nurses from out-of-state to move to West Virginia and pledge to work in West Virginia,” HEPC Vice Chancellor Health Sciences Cynthia Persily said.
During the upcoming regular session, Persily said they will change their funding model since lawmakers passed Senate Bill 518 which cut the budget of the West Virginia Center for Nursing by 75%. Persily said they will consider repealing the section of code that made the center a separate state agency and write new policy that would bring in under control of the HEPC.
“The center was previously funded since its inception in the early 2000s by a $10 fee that was paid by all registered nurses and licensed practical nurses at the time of renewal of their license,” Persily said.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction of the former president of a local Pagan Motorcycle Club chapter.
In the appeal, James Vincent argued his gang affiliation should have been excluded from the lower trial because it unfairly resulted in judgement of his character.
The Supreme Court issued a memorandum decision Tuesday writing, “We find that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in categorizing the evidence of Mr. Vincent’s club affiliation as intrinsic.”
Vincent was sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 murder of Luka Grabb.
Vincent shot Grabb four times after learning he had plans to rob him. Four others with Vincent kicked Grabb and left him along the side of the road where he bled to death.
Co-defendants David Uphold was acquitted of murder, but was convicted of conspiracy and malicious wounding, Charles Carpenter pleaded guilty to malicious assault and conspiracy, Russell Kirk pleaded guilty to malicious assault and conspiracy and Vernon Carpenter pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Multiple local agencies successfully made a felony arrest of a Philadelphia murder suspect in downtown Morgantown Tuesday afternoon.
According to a news release from police, members of the Morgantown Police Department’s Special Response Team and the Mon Metro Drug Task Force took Ronald Johnson into custody without incident in the 300 block of High Street at around 2:30 p.m.
Detectives began working in the area after receiving information that Johnson could be there.
Police ensure the public that extensive precautions are always taken to keep bystanders safe in any police action.
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Senator Charles Trump says a shortage of child protective services workers is enough to keep him lying awake at night, worried.
“I think we have children at risk and it’s causing me sleepless nights,” Trump, R-Morgan, said during an interim meeting of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Retention of child protective services workers has been a longstanding challenge for the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Trump, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he has been receiving calls from judges who are also concerned. Trump asked how many child protective services workers remain on the job in Eastern Panhandle counties.
“How many child protective services workers are employed and doing that job right now?”
Cammie Chapman, the newly-named deputy secretary for child and adult services, didn’t have the number off hand. But Chapman is aware of the problem and described regular trips to the Eastern Panhandle to address it.
“We are very aware of the leadership issues that are there,” Chapman said.
Trump followed up, asking “Can you address what the department is doing about the problem?”
Chapman described efforts to shift supervisors from other counties to also focus on Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. And cases have been assigned to other staff in the area. So we’re trying to support the staff that’s there and help them manage the case flow that they have, including taking cases that are assigned to other workers,” she said.
Trump wondered if workers from other parts of the state wind up having their attention shifted, “that’s going to leave voices in the services that are being rendered where they’re working.”
Chapman didn’t disagree. “There’s a finite pool of people, and it’s sort of like a balloon; you push on one side and it’s going to pop out on the other.”
But she said the agency has been careful to not shift resources from other areas that are also running short. “Areas that are stable are the areas that we’re using to help stabilize that region.”
Trump wants to use his role as a legislative leader to help find some policy solutions.
“I’m hoping that come January we’ll maybe have some specific recommendations from the department for things the Legislature can do or might do that are designed to be more long-term solutions. It’s a persistent problem there,” he said.
Senator Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, echoed those concerns. He described recently looking at a newly-established foster care dashboard and concluding that the numbers show zero CPS workers in five counties. “Is that right or is that wrong?”
Chapman responded that in many cases, workers are assigned to a district rather than a county. So the county might say zero even though the district is staffed with workers who serve the individual county.
“If a county says zero, that doesn’t mean the county’s not being served,” she said. “The county’s being served by the district.”
Baldwin said the majority of counties he’s been representing have vacancies about 50 percent. One county, Summers has no office and no workers, so the other understaffed counties provide service. “I don’t know that paint’s a rosier picture is my point,” Baldwin said.
The senator wanted to know whether a pay raise for social services workers earlier this year seems to have helped.
Chapman responded, “We’re seeing that it has not decreased, so it’s sort of, in layman’s term, we’ve stopped the bleed.”
Baldwin concluded, “I would reiterate Senator Trump’s comments that we’ve got to do something, and we’ve got to do something fast.”
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(Bob Huggins pregame press conference)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The carpet will be rolled out for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers for the first time in 19 days when WVU hosts Navy Wednesday evening. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
West Virginia suffered their second loss of the season Saturday night at Xavier, 84-74. The Musketeers outscored the Mountaineers by 17 points in the second half and Xavier scored 17 points off 12 WVU turnovers.
“We just threw the ball around. We didn’t pass the ball. We threw the ball. We spent a good deal of time yesterday trying to maybe sure up some of our half court sets that have been really good to us in the past that we made shambles of,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.
“I just feel like we beat ourselves. We watched film. Everybody watched it individually and we just watched it as a team yesterday. There’s nothing we can’t change. We just had a couple mental lapses on the defensive end and on the offensive end as well,” said WVU senior guard Joe Toussaint.
“I am always the guy to take the blame no matter what it is. I always take the blame and I will take what comes with it. I have always been like that since I was a young kid.”
In the loss at Xavier, West Virginia was beaten on the boards, 34-28. It marked the fourth time in eight games that the Mountaineers were outrebounded by their opponent.
“I think we are starting to get a little bit better offensively but defensively, we are horrible. We’ve got to get so much better,” Huggins said.
“There’s a myriad of things that we don’t do that we have done very well in the past.”
Navy (5-3) has dropped consecutive games after a 5-1 start. The Midshipmen feature a balanced offensive attack with seven players averaging at least 6.6 points per game. Navy posted a 21-11 record last season.
“The majority of the service [academy] teams, they execute really well. They just don’t have the size that the people, for instance in our league, would have. But they are skilled and very disciplined,” Huggins said.
“I remember they beat Virginia last year. They’re a solid team all around. We’re not going to speed them up. They are very well-coached and disciplined. They are not going to do uncharacteristic things. They are not going to go off on their own, try to go one-on-one. They are going to stick to their team basketball,” Toussaint said.
West Virginia has played just over a quarter of their regular season schedule and their roster and rotations with nine newcomers continue to evolve.
“To think that our game is all the same, it is not. It is not even close. They have to make adjustments. And then you throw injuries on there, Pat [Sumenick] has been injured. Pat is just now starting to come back. Pat hasn’t played because Pat hasn’t been ready to play. When you look at all the things that those guys have to overcome, yeah, it is going to take some time. It is going to take more time than what certainly I would have wanted.”
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monday’s opening of the NCAA Transfer Portal for a 45-day window is sure to captivate college football fans across the country for much of December and January.
Roster turnover has never been more prevalent in college athletics. Though circumstances are different everywhere, each program is dealing with attrition to some extent, regardless of its level of success and the status of its coaches.
On Monday, as West Virginia introduced the school’s 13th Director of Athletics, Wren Baker detailed his approach on the transfer portal and the importance of keeping WVU athletes in Morgantown.
“It starts with making sure that the student athletes who are here are having a great experience,” Baker said. “In any form of talent acquisition, retention is critical. We want our student-athletes in our program now to have a great experience and to feel like they are being prepared for more than just athletics and to get a degree. We’re preparing them for life and preparing them to be valuable members of community.”
Still, attrition is inevitable in today’s era and Baker understands that. In the first 24 hours of Baker being welcomed into his new position after leaving behind North Texas, two of West Virginia’s four scholarship quarterbacks — JT Daniels and Will “Goose” Crowder — have entered the portal. Several others, including experienced wideout Reese Smith, have done the same. More will follow suit in the near future.
West Virginia’s football program has seen an abundance of turnover for much of coach Neal Brown’s tenure and based on early indications, it appears likely that’ll again be the case this offseason.
On the other side, the Mountaineers figure to be active in their pursuit of additions through the portal.
While Baker won’t be directly responsible for losses or gains, he wants to be aware of who’s coming and going and put Mountaineer coaches in position to be successful by using the portal to their benefit.
“We have to provide all the access to all the technology in the world to see who’s going in,” Baker said. “A few years ago, it was all manual. Now, you can go in the morning if you pay for the service, and they tell you who’s coming in and who’s going out. Some of the services will even tell you grades and some commentary from coaches, so you have to know who’s there.
“You have to make sure that your coaching staffs across the board are equipped with the people who can reach out to student athletes in the portal and help build the case — in terms of the frequency of communication and selling what we have to offer, selling the institution and the athletic program that we’re providing. All of those things to make a case for WVU.”
A different time, but also reality of today’s climate in college athletics.
“It’s certainly a different world and I spend more time on it then I thought I ever would,” Baker said. “This job has evolved a lot during my 20 years. Somebody said earlier that I’m young [Baker is 44]. I don’t feel young after all the evolutions that this job takes sometimes, but we’re in one of those paradigm-shifting evolutions and we have to be prepared to make those adjustments.”
Part of adding transfers or retaining players can boil down to opportunities players have to profit from Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
Baker believes those are imperative and must be presented to athletes in an effort to not only retain their services, but provide them with the ‘great experience.’
“At this point, we’re not able to determine who gets money or convey a certain amount or anything like that, but we can promote it,” Baker said. “That’s the right place for us to be. Really, NIL, is about opportunities for student-athletes and that’s what we’re for is to provide them opportunities. Opportunities to get degrees, opportunities to excel and grow personally and professionally as well as athletically. It’s important that we embrace that and promote that. I don’t think it has to come at the expense of other things that we’re trying to do. In the environment we’re in today, that’s a very important component to a healthy athletic program.”
After Baker accepted the job at West Virginia last Wednesday, but before he’d ever been in Morgantown, he promoted Country Roads Trust, a prominent West Virginia alumni backed organization designed to facilitate NIL opportunities for Mountaineer student-athletes.
The group was launched by several prominent WVU alumni, including the school’s 11th athletic director in Oliver Luck and Arizona Diamondbacks owner/managing general partner Ken Kendrick.
“I’ve known Oliver for a long time. We haven’t spent a lot of time together, but he’s somebody in the industry that certainly has a name and reputation and that I’ve connected with over time,” Baker said. “I had a chance to talk to the rest of the staff there at Country Roads Trust. I see them as an asset and a tool and somebody we need to have a relationship with — not one that violates the rules, but one that is healthy and does everything it can to provide those opportunities for student-athletes within the rules.”
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LOGAN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from East Fairmont’s 54-30 win at Logan.
(Photo gallery courtesy of Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography)