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Football: Linsly Wallops Central

November 5, 2011
By RICK THORP ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Dominating. Suffocating. Commanding.

Those were three of the words being bantered about Wheeling Island Stadium on Friday night in regard to Linsly's 54-18 pasting of city rival Wheeling Central.

All three would suffice in describing the Cadets' performance in a rare battle of OVAC unbeatens. But, at the end of the night, the only word that mattered to Linsly fans was - perfect.

Article Photos

Linsly’s Akil Blount plants a foot in the ground and changes direction against Wheeling Central on Friday night.

Perfect, as in 10-0 and the school's first spotless season since 1996.

It was bedlam on the field following the game as Linsly students, parents and fans rushed the field to congratulate the Cadets on the achieving the school's fourth undefeated campaign.

And in the middle of it all was Coach B.J. Depew, dripping wet from a Gatorade shower administered to he and defensive coordinator James Cowart near the end of the game.

''These kids worked so hard and they were determined to achieve their goals,'' Depew said. ''Certainly, there was extra incentive in playing a city rival.

''I don't think any coach expects to score a certain number of points. We didn't. But we knew that we weren't going to be able to let up. We learned that lesson last year.''

Linsly never took its foot off the gas pedal Friday, scoring in all four quarters, including 21 in the decisive second.

''Every week you take the field, your goals are on the line,'' Depew said. ''You can't take a day off ... you can't take a play off. That was this team's motto all season long.''

The victory was extra-sweet for Linsly's seniors.

''It's a great win,'' said Akil Blount, who caught two touchdown passes and returned a punt 57 yards for another score.

''We have a great group of guys and it feels great to do something so remarkable with such special people.''

Just like Linsly had done all season, many had a hand in the victory.

Chinelo Oparanozie rushed for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Blount caught four balls for 77 yards and two scores. Alex Stephens threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Dodd rumbled for a 6-yard score, while Gabe Hill tacked on 118 yards rushing and an 88-yard TD jaunt that wrapped up the scoring.

''It's been like that all season,'' Depew said. ''Everyone has contributed on both offense and defense. There are no superstars on this team and we prided ourselves on that.''

Those same players that did the job on offense also did the trick on defense. The Maroon Knights (9-1) were outgained 614-249.

Gino Bianconi collected most of it, rushing 18 times for a game-high 235 yards and all three Wheeling Central scores.

''All the credit goes to the kids,'' Depew said. ''I give (Wheeling Central) credit. They made adjustments and went to different packages and they got some good yards.

''But we regrouped. We knew if we stopped their bread and butter that would be the key. And we did that for the most part.''

Wheeling Central coach Mike Young agreed.

''They have a very good team and they just beat us,'' he said. ''It was well-deserved on their part.

''People said their schedule was weak or whatever. But their schedule is competitive, just like ours. They played very well.''

The Maroon Knights will begin defense of their West Virginia Class A championship next weekend at Wheeling Island Stadium against an opponent to be determined by the SSAC late tonight.

''We're still 9-1,'' Young said. ''I figure there are a lot of schools that would like to be 9-1.

''A state championship is not out of the picture for us. It's still one of our goals.''

As for the Cadets - not members of the SSAC - their season is finished. But Depew said the memories will live on and can't be taken away.

''Special isn't a good enough word to describe this season,'' Depew said. ''To finish (the season) at Wheeling Island Stadium against an excellent team like Wheeling Central is extremely special.''

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