WILLIAMSTOWN -Sooner or later, it's virtuallty inevitable that Williamstown and Wheeling Central will meet in the annual Class A state football playoffs.
They've met four times in the Class A state championship game and clashed on seeral other occasions in earlier playoff rounds.
This year, the Yellowjackets and Maroon Knights don't have to wait long for their annual showdown to take place.
Photo courtesy of Michael Uhl
Williamstown’s Jake Tracewell intercepts a Roane pass last Friday night. The Yellowjackets host Wheeling Central in a playoff opener Friday night.
When 8-2 Williamstown finished the regular season ranked No. 4 and 6-4 Wheeling Central was ranked No. 13, it meant the two perennial small school powers would face one another in the opening round of the postseason.
That meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Williamstown. The winner will advance to the state quarterfinals while the loser will be eliminated from title contention.
It's a high stakes game, but then it's always a high stakes game when Williamstown meets Wheeling Central.
"It's always a good week of practice when we are preparing for Wheeling Central," said veteran Yellowjacket head coach Terry Smith, who has compiled an impressive 106-21 record at the school. "We always look forward to playing them. They are a serious team."
So is Williamstown. Smith has watched what he considered a young Yellowjacket team grow up as the season progressed. He's witnessed improved play along the offensive line. Plus, in last Friday's regular season finale against Class AA playoff participant Roane County, he was impressed with the way the defensive line performed.
Although this is Smith's football program, he isn't its only leader. When Williamstown's players are on the field, they look to senior Jake Tracewell, who has thrown for more 1,000 yards and rushed for in excess of 900, to provide leadership.
"Jake runs the show on both sides of the ball. He's a competitor," Smith said of Tracewell, who was a runnerup at the state wrestling tournament earlier this year.
Tracewell isn't the only standout athlete on the roster. Junior Dakota Watson never leaves the field. He's a tailback on offense, a strong safety on defense, he returns punts and kickoffs and is on Williamstown's kickoff and punt teams. He and Tracewell both serve as team captains.
Then there's guys like fullback David Hastings and tailback Trace Hart, who give Williamstown more offensive weapons. Even some youngsters have shined as sophomore inside linebacker Noah Bellew has greatly improved during the course of the season.
It takes more than just a stable coaching staff and a good group of athletes to make a successful football program. It also takes community support. Smith has been overwhelmed by the support of the Williamstown community.
All one need do it look at Williamstown's football headquarters and you can see how much the community cares. You can bet most of the members of the community will be rooting on the Yellowjackets come Friday night.
Playoff football is a tradition in Williamstown.