WEIRTON - The unbeaten and top ranked Madonna Blue Don football team has been on a mission since this time last year.
Most of this team, which is headed by a group of 15 seniors who have been playing together since middle school, played in the heartbreaking 43-42 overtime loss to Wahama in the state class A championship game on Dec. 1, 2012.
Each one of those returning Blue Dons vowed they would be back to Wheeling Island Stadium to complete what in their eyes is unfinished business and take home the state championship trophy to put alongside the runner-up hardware they got a year ago. Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. tonight.
MEETING — The Weirton Madonna football team will take on Greenbrier West at 7 p.m. tonight at Wheeling Island Stadium in the West Virginia Class A state championship game.
"These seniors, we're fighters and we're not going to stop till we get that championship," Ross Comis said following last week's semifinal win over Williamstown.
Tonight they get that second chance. This time, once beaten Greenbrier West (12-1) is the opponent as the Blue Dons disposed of the 2012 nemesis, Wahama, two weeks ago in the snow in record-setting fashion.
"Greenbrier West is a very good football team," said Blue Don coach, Doug Taylor, who is in his third season at the helm. "We saw them a year ago in films because they played Wahama in the playoffs, and that's one of the films of Wahama that we chose to look at.
"That game was tight till Wahama scored in the fourth quarter and Greenbrier West has quite a number of players returning from a year ago like us."
Taylor said the Cavaliers are led by senior quarterback, Malik Boatwright (5-4, 172), who is small in height, but a good athlete.
"He's one of those kids you see once in awhile that you think is too small to play football - an underdog type of kid and I like that," said Taylor. "I like to see kids like that succeed and I always feel good when I see the little guy succeed.
"I like to root for the underdog, but not this Saturday night."
After trouncing Clarksburg Notre Dame 54-7 in opening round playoff action, the Cavaliers shut out previously unbeaten and No. 2 St. Marys by 18-0 in the quarterfinal round and knocked off upset-minded Magnolia last week 21-14 in the semifinal game.
"Boatwright is quick, but he is a state wrestling champion so you know he is tough," Taylor explained. "We have to be at our best tackling him and we'll have to be at our best to shut down Greenbrier West's power run game."
But the Cavaliers are hardly a one-horse show.
Taylor said the Cavaliers have four other running backs. They are seniors Cory Cox (5-10, 168), Chase McClung (6-1, 220), Logan Brown 6-1, 182 and junior Jordan Tincher (5-8, 158).
"They don't try to fool anybody. They are old school on both sides of the ball," Taylor continued. "They want to run the ball on offense and control the clock. They'll pass it maybe seven or eight times a game. They'll pound the middle with McClung, the big fullback and Brown can pound it, too."
However, it was a Boatwright 18-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Smith (5-11, 148) late in the fourth quarter that was the game-winner last week over Magnolia.
Defensively, Taylor said the Cavaliers use a five and six man line because they want to take away the run.
"They shut down Clarksburg Notre Dame in the first round of the playoffs and I don't think Notre Dame had any positive rushing yards in the game. That defense also shut down St. Marys and pretty much shut down a very good Magnolia running game.
"Their defense will create issues for us. We'll have to make some adjustments with our blocking schemes and formations to take care of then having so many players up front."
Marquis Frazier, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive ends leads the defense.
He has 84 tackles, 23 for loss, 21 sacks and six fumble recoveries.
"Frazier has been super for us," Greenbrier East coach Lewis McClung told The Intelligencer earlier in the week. "He's been a playmaker on defense this season, like (quarterback Malik) Boatwright has been on offense. Marquis is fast, he gets off the ball well but one of his biggest assets is he has a long wingspan. That enables him to get off the ball at the line of scrimmage and make a lot of plays some kids might not be able to make."
The Cavaliers have scored a total of 487 points in the 13 games to date while the defense has limited opposing teams to 124.
On the other side, the explosive Blue Don offense has outscored opponents 633-184 with 78 of those points being scored in the last two playoff games.
Wahama set a record for a losing team scoring 50 points against the Blue Dons, but 21 of those points came against Madonna's kick-off team. The Blue Dons offense set a record in that game, too, scoring 77 points, the most ever in a Class A playoff game.
The Blue Dons are led by the dynamic senior duo of Ross Comis and Eliott Nero.
Comis, who has gone over the 9,000 career mark in total offense, has rushed for 1,797 yards this year while Nero has 1,725 stripes on the ground.
Through the air, Comis has completed 46 of 93 passes for 1,551 yards and 19 touchdowns. Nero has been on the receiving end of 27 of the Comis aerials for 341 yards and 5 scores.
Senior wide receiver and defensive back, Will Bowser, turned the semifinal game around in the third quarter of the Madonna 42-28 win over No. 4 Williamstown when he fielded a kickoff and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.
Bowser also is Comis' favorite receiver catching 39 passes for 664 yards and 5 touchdowns.
"It's going to be tough, no doubt about it," McClung said. "Fortunately for us, defense has been our strong point this year. We just have to tackle.
"You can't just pick one to stop. Obviously, the ball starts in Comis' hands so we have to take care of him first. He does a great job with that read option. But you can't overlook Nero. That will be a real challenge.
"Nobody has stopped them yet."
Greenbrier West, like Magnolia, dropped down to Class A from AA two years ago and they still play several Class AA football schools during the regular season.
The only loss for the Cavaliers came at the hands of Summers County by a 27-20 score. Summers County finished with a 9-1 regular season record and the No. 5 seed in the AA playoffs.
Greenbrier West squeaked past Nicholas County by a 6-0 score in the season opener. Nicholas County had a 9-2 regular season earning the 11th seed in the Class AA ranks.
The only common opponent for the two teams is Clarksburg Notre Dame. The Cavaliers beat the Fighting Irish 54-7 in the opening round of the playoffs while the Blue Dons trounced Notre Dame 75-16 during the regular season.