We are on fire!!




Story from Coalfield.

Bulldogs charge past Bath for ticket to state title game
By:JOHNNY TEGLAS, Sports Writer December 10, 2002
WISE - Quarterback Josh Mabe threw for 111 yards, ran for 76 more and scored with three short touchdown runs in Appalachia's 42-14 state semifinal victory over defending Group A Division 1 champion Bath County Saturday afternoon.
Halfback William Huneycutt carried 18 times for 67 yards and punched in three scores of his own against the defending state champions on the artificial turf of UVa-Wise's Carl Smith Stadium. Fullback Stephen Grimes led all rushers with 94 yards, caught an 8-yard pass and scored a two-point conversion in helping the Bulldogs into next Saturday's Group A Division 1 state championship game against Region B champion William Campbell.
The Bulldogs (11-2) will meet unbeaten William Campbell at 4 p.m. Saturday at James Madison University's Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg.
None of the three backs could have helped punch Appalachia's ticket to the title game if it hadn't been for their blue-collar Bulldog teammates up front.
"They were awesome," Grimes said, heaping praise on linemen Anthony Leonard, Cody Wilson, Keith Williams, Brad Reynolds, Anthony Bailey, Donovan Mabe, Jeremy Price and Michael Fugate. "The holes got bigger as the game went on. They dominated!"
Mabe simply smiled and nodded his head. "They played great! What else can you say?"
Huneycutt didn't even try to conceal his grin. "We couldn't have done it without them."
"I couldn't ask for much more," Appalachia coach Tom Turner said. "We didn't look too bad. The line play was super. They did a great job blocking."

"The kids just rose to the occasion. They've been waiting a long time for this," he added.

Bath County, the three-time Region C champion, dispatched Appalachia in the 2001 playoffs when the Chargers rolled to a 34-14 win before blowing out Sussex Central in the championship game.

Regrettably for the Bulldogs, the winners have little time to savor the sweet taste of revenge. Appalachia must now prepare to meet undefeated William Campbell (13-0). The Generals crushed Region A champ Mathews 55-7 in the other Division 1 semifinal Saturday afternoon.

As they prepare for their first state title appearance of the new millennium, the Bulldogs can reflect on a game in which they won the old-fashioned way. They gutted it out up front and took control of both sides of the line of scrimmage. The end result was more than impressive.
No matter what Bath County coach Will Fields tried, he kept coming up short.

"They're a fantastic team, what else can I say?" he remarked. "We didn't play real well early and it snowballed on us. They got after us pretty good and we didn't have an answer for it."


Pioneer District champ Bath County (12-1) pulled out all the stops. Fields, sensing the game was getting away in the second quarter, even threw junior quarterback Jacob Phillips into the fray. Phillips, who suffered rib, lung and heart injuries in Bath County's first-round playoff win over Auburn, stepped under center 22 minutes into the game. The 6-3, 180-pounder displayed Herculean heart from that point, but neither he, nor his teammates, was any match for the determined Bulldogs.

"He's a gutsy kid," Fields said. "We couldn't get it done with him or without him."
Sweeps, tosses, dives, delays, options and nearly a dozen passes failed to put a dent Appalachia's defense. The Chargers netted a mere 76 yards while falling behind 22-0 in the first half. Running back David Hicks was able to crank out 92 yards on 11 carries, but the game was well out of reach from three fourth-quarter Appalachia scores before he found his stride.
The Bulldogs' fierce line play settled the issue in the early going and they never let up. Turner's grunts staked their claim to the line of scrimmage and continually shoved Bath County's defense backward. Mabe made short order of the game's opening series, directing a 40-yard drive into the end zone.
Huneycutt put his Lonesome Pine District teammates in front 6-0 with a 2-yard burst behind right tackle. Mabe's conversion run upped the margin to 8-0.
Bath marched the other way during its first possession but ran into the proverbial brick wall inside Appalachia's 10 when Donovan Mabe plowed into the Charger backfield and dropped running back Jess Pritt for a 2-yard loss.

The Bulldogs took it from there. Running behind their big guys up front, Huneycutt and Grimes peeled off yardage at will. Leonard covered most of the middle of the field when he adjusted in double coverage to haul in a 36-yard Mabe toss on the final play of the first period. Six snaps later Appalachia was on top 14-0. Mabe burrowed behind Reynolds into the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns.
Bath County's Michael Colaw snagged an interception in the end zone with 2:07 left in the half to temporarily fend off Appalachia's scoring machine. That's when Phillips came in hoping to give his teammates a lift.
Bulldog defensive back Jason Shuler broke up a deep third-down pass from Phillips to Colaw, setting up a fourth-and-one at the Bath 29. Instead of punting, Fields chose to let Phillips call his own number on an inside keeper. Appalachia's initial surge caught him in the backfield. Still, Phillips struggled forward, but came up a couple of chain links short of the crucial first down.
"I was just trying to get some momentum - any kind of momentum - going," Fields explained. "It was just a dumb move by me."
The momentum stayed with the Bulldogs. They were just 29 yards away from the end zone and had 43 seconds to score. Turner knew exactly what to do with the opportunity. Short Mabe passes to Grimes and Leonard moved the ball to the Bath 1 with 10 ticks left. Mabe covered the final yard and then scored on the two-point run for a 22-0 Bulldog lead at halftime.


The Chargers found some life in the third quarter, getting to Appalachia's 21 before fumbling and then scoring behind Phillips' 7-yard run that capped a 60-yard, eight-play drive. Hicks was the most productive on the scoring series, ripping off runs of 18 and 21 yards.

But that was as close as the defending state champs would get to next Saturday's Division 1 final at James Madison University. Appalachia took complete control up front during the fourth quarter and plowed ahead for three more scores. Huneycutt made it a 28-6 game with a 3-yard toss off the left side on the fourth play of the final frame. Mabe followed Huneycutt around right end at the 8:13 mark for a 6-yard TD run.

Appalachia polished off its dominant effort following a reverse punt return between brothers Anthony Leonard and Andrew Leonard. Andrew Leonard took the ball from his older brother and followed a wall deep inside Charger territory with 6:15 to play. Huneycutt cashed in, scoring on a 13-yard sweep.
The Bulldogs snapped a 20-game Bath County winning streak with the win. While they captured their third straight victory, Mabe made it clear Saturday's win is not what the Bulldogs ultimately want.
"We're playing next week," Mabe said. "That's the one we want to win!"


Story from Kingsport Times News.
Not complete.

Appy steamrolls Bath County
Sunday, December 08, 2002

By Bill Lane

WISE - Reaching the state football playoff finals has become as much of a ritual in Appalachia as looking forward to Christmas.

Could it be that Santa Claus will arrive early this year, say next Saturday?

Appalachia (11-2) clobbered defending state champion Bath County 42-14 in the VHSL Group A, Division 1 semifinals Saturday on the AstroTurf at Carl Smith Stadium.

It ended the Chargers' 20-game win streak and qualified the Bulldogs for yet another appearance in the state championship game.

Appalachia will play William Campbell for the title at James Madison University in Harrisonburg next weekend. William Campbell beat Matthews 55-7 in the other semifinal game.

This will be Appy's ninth appearance in the championship round, the eighth under head coach Tommy Turner.

After playing on the school's first state championship team in 1969 under the legendary Jim Riggs, Turner returned to make it a tradition. His teams have won five titles in seven appearances in the finals.

"We've taught more history and geography in football than in the classroom,'' Turner said. "We've got a map of Virginia on the wall with all the towns circled that we've met in the playoffs.''

Josh Mabe, a take-charge quarterback who simply refuses to let his team lose, said there is built-in motivation for the next game.

"You ain't an Appalachia Bulldog until you're wearing one of those state championship rings,'' Mabe said.

Mabe scored three touchdowns and accounted for 187 tandem yards, keeping the ball 16 times for 76 and completing five passes for 111.

As Appy gave Bath County a clinic in power football, the Chargers played wounded. Star quarterback Jacob Phillips, who wasn't supposed to play because of multiple injuries, sat out the first 22 minutes of the game. The Chargers trailed 14-0 when he entered.

"He wanted to play,'' said Chargers head coach Will Fields, who started a freshman at quarterback instead. "We couldn't get it done with or without him.

"Appalachia is a fantastic team. (The Bulldogs) got after us pretty good, and we didn't have an answer for it. They came out with more intensity than we did, and things just snowballed. They really took it to us.''

If there was a turning point, it had to be Bath County's ill-fated decision to run on fourth down at its own 30-yard line with 43 seconds remaining in the first half. The Chargers, trailing 14-0, needed 1 yard to retain possession and were stopped just inches short.

Immediately, Appalachia made Fields sorry for his strategy. The tenacious Bulldogs covered 30 yards in just 33 seconds with five plays. Mabe executed a sneak for a TD and also ran a two-point conversion, which has become Turner's trademark.

"It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,'' Fields said. "I wanted to grab a little momentum back. In hindsight, I would not have gone for the first down in that situation.''

Bath County (12-1) had just intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 2:07 left in the opening half. Phillips took over at quarterback at that juncture.

The 22-point margin achieved by Appy just 10 seconds from the halftime break put the score out of Bath County's reach.

Fullback Stephen Grimes, who gained 94 yards in 18 carries, and William Huneycutt, with 67 yards in 18 rushes, moved the chains and took plenty of time off the clock.

"By controlling the ball,'' said Mabe, "we forced Bath County to try a couple of things it wasn't used to doing. Since (the Chargers) beat us last year (34-14), this was a revenge win. We remembered the way we got treated, and everybody wanted to play them again.''

Appalachia's blocking and tackling were superior.

"We've been taught to block the opposition back until the whistle blows,'' said Mabe.

Turner told the Bulldogs at halftime to pretend the score was still 0-0.

Huneycutt, like Mabe, scored three touchdowns. He also caught a 43-yard pass for the game's longest gain.

"Our linemen stayed low,'' said Huneycutt, "and drove (the Chargers) back. They hadn't lost a game, and we wanted to get them back for last year's loss.''

Appy had TD marches of 40, 92, 30, 55, 51 and 14 yards.

The time of possession differential was 3-to-1.

The Bulldogs' forward wall of Clydesdales knocked Bath County's middleweight linemen over like bowling pins.

"Our line play was super,'' Turner said. "We couldn't have asked for anything more. They did a good job blocking and picking up stunts. These kids just rose to the occasion. Grimes ran hard inside. I was tickled with the way everybody played. It was a complete game.''

. We can't just be happy to get there.''