Dents, dings, COVID, quarantine, absences on the roster and A-list opponents. This was a year that felt like a whirlwind.
The 2020 Pocahontas County High School Warriors faced more obstacles than any team in recent memory and strove to do the best they could.
Friday, November 3, presented another chance to be extremely proud of the Warriors for their efforts against a talented, playoff-bound opponent.
The Warriors were whittled down to a shell of their potential, due to injuries and some players not turning up due to COVID concerns.
PCHS fielded a variety of players in new positions and fought ferociously, but could not overcome their opponent in the final varsity game of the season.
The Warriors were able to stem the Patriots for most of the first quarter, holding them to no score until the last two minutes of the quarter. Senior #14 Jacob Davis took the field and punched in a field goal from 29 yards out.
Score 3-0 Warriors.
Moments later, Midland Trail took advantage of the young Warrior secondary and managed to connect on a 75-yard pass for a touchdown; kick after was good.
Score 7-3 Patriots.
The second quarter found the Warriors reeling and trying to get things going as the Patriots took advantage, scoring three times.
Score at halftime 28-3 Patriots.
In the second half, the Warriors stiffened on defense, holding off the Patriots until midway through the fourth quarter when the Patriots scored a final time.
Final Score 35-3 Patriots.
The Warriors had 168 yards of offense, lost two fumbles and threw one interception; while the Patriots racked up 332 yards of offense with just one turnover.
Leading on the ground for the Warriors was senior #8 Haiden Gladwell with four carries for 27 yards. Sophomore #6 Braeden Hayhurst, running at quarterback at the end of the game for the JV, had five carries for 18 yards; junior # 1 Cash Keating had seven for 10 yards. Sophomore #9 Nacota Smith had five carries for five yards. Senior #24 Logan Ryder had two carries for a yard. Passing was composed by senior #10 Keaton Baldwin, who completed 11 of 20 for 125 yards and one interception. Receiving was led by senior #14 Jacob Davis with four for 51 yards; Gladwell with four for 47 yards; junior #4 Frankie Burgess with two for 17 yards, including a diving, one-handed catch along the sideline; and Ryder with one for 10 yards.
The final game was hard to swallow, looking back on the effort put into this season by the seniors. The class of 2020 pulled together the best they could considering the bad hand that they were dealt. Neither the final game nor their 2-7 record do justice to the effort they put forth or the heart they had for the game.
The Warriors will graduate the following:
#14, Jacob Davis. Coming out to be the kicker for the Warriors his junior year, Davis stepped up to become a full-time player for the Warriors in 2020. Putting his strong legs to use, he was one of the top receivers for the Warriors on offense and a solid defender at Defensive End. A dedicated and hardworking addition to the Warriors whose assistance was greatly appreciated.
#73, Matthew Hipes. Hipes has played the last two years for the Warriors. He quickly climbed the ranks his senior year to help on the offensive line, which had been racked by injuries. Hipes has been an easy going and likable member of the team, one whose chill smile and sense of humor helped in this hard hitting season. Hipes stepped up to play Guard and Tackle on offense and D-Line and Linebacker on defense.
#51, John Fitzgerald. Missing out on his junior year, Fitzgerald has been a hard running, hard hitting, and high energy player in the three seasons at PCHS. He played Guard and some Half Back on offense and Defensive Line and End on the other side. A high spirited, fiery jokester of the team who will be missed.
#24, Logan Ryder. Joining the Warriors his sophomore year after transferring from Virginia, Logan worked diligently and committed himself to the game. He pushed hard to help the Warriors as Running Back, Linebacker and even stepped up in the final game to help as a Corner. A solid battering ram of a player whose dedication and determination has been commendable.
#8, Haiden Gladwell. This native son of Pocahontas County spent his freshman and sophomore years in Pennsylvania, he returned to his home his junior year and added quickness to the Warrior roster that was sorely needed. Haiden has stepped up to help the Warriors as one of the go-to speedsters on offense; both at Running Back and Receiver and as a Defensive-back and outside Linebacker on defense.
#74, Jarrett ‘Luke’ Lucabaugh. A four-year Warrior and two year starter on varsity, Lucabaugh has been one of the most dedicated workers on the team. Suffering a knee injury his junior year and struggling with it this year, Lucabaugh fought through the pain to continue his role at right Tackle on the offensive line in the 2020 season. During his tenure at PCHS, Luke has played Tackle, D-Line and Center for the Warriors, displaying exceptional heart in his career.
#66, Jesse Bostic. Another four-year veteran for the Warriors, Bostic is the most verbose of the Warriors; if there is cheering, chiding, pumping up, war cries, a discussion on the field or at practice – you’ll find Bostic in the middle of it. He backed up his talk, seeing starting time since his sophomore year as a Guard, Center, D-Lineman, Linebacker and Defensive End and going full bore at each position.
#55, Ty Cochran. In his fourth year at PCHS, Cochran steadily held the left end of the Warrior line in 2020 at left Tackle. The team’s academic aficionado, he has shown what hard work can do. Training, lifting and learning, he became the steady presence on the line. Always quick with a comeback and ready to work at the drop of a hat, Cochran (with a few fire related exceptions) has been a great one to coach.
#10, Keaton Baldwin. Each team has that one person who can lead without saying a word. Some are lucky enough to have a player who is fearless on defense and terrifying to take on as a defender. Few have the interesting combination of their quarterback being not only their starting middle Linebacker, but also a State Champion Bull-Rider. The Warriors had that, all in one package, with Baldwin, the fiery spirit of the 2020 team. Having played since Peanut Football, he has started for the Warriors since his sophomore year as a Linebacker, Defensive-back, Running Back, Quarterback and any other position needed – a true Warrior.
I speak for the other coaches in saying that we are proud to have coached these young men. We will miss them, and wish them the best.
While 2020 is over for the varsity, the young Warriors had one more trick up their sleeve and had a chance to give the Warrior fans something to look forward to.
Sixteen sophomores, a few up and coming juniors and some talented freshmen came out in 2020. Some of them got to travel to see what Pendleton County had to offer. The result was heartening.
The young Warriors showed up, showed off and let their rivals, the Wildcats of Pendleton County, know what to expect in seasons to come. Wrapping up the Warrior JV season with a staggering 39-6 win.
Highlights for the Warriors started with sophomore #6 Braeden Hayhurst punching in a one-yard touchdown after a long drive early in the first quarter; freshman #83 Clayton Burns’ kick was no good.
Score 6-0 Warriors.
The Warriors came right back in the first quarter with another long drive – this time capped by a 15-yard run by freshman mini-fridge #44 Bransen Gordon from 15 yards out; point after by Burns was good.
Score 13-0 Warriors.
Hayhurst liked Gordon’s touchdown so much he scored one himself on the next offensive series, claiming his own 15-yard touchdown; and Burns was good again.
Score 20-0 Warriors.
The Wildcats, with some legitimate talent on the team, were able to break a long one for a touchdown before the end of the half.
Score at halftime 20-6 Warriors.
Coming out in the second half the Warriors hit an electric streak when Hayhurst, on a broken play, was able to scramble. Getting a key block from sophomore Running Back and workhorse #9 Nacota Smith, Hayhurst took the ball 55 yards for a touchdown; Burns kick was no good.
Score 26-6 Warriors
The Warriors were not done yet. In the fourth quarter, Hayhurst went to the air targeting some of the young receivers. He connected with sophomore #32 Brycen Carrol for a touchdown from 12 yards out, which was set up by a 25-yard catch and run by sophomore #2 Ryan “Salsa” Halterman; point after by Burns was no good.
Score 32-6 Warriors.
The Wildcats last hopes at offense were comfounded by the Warrior Defense. Sophomore Waylon Lucabaugh crashed on the Running-back, and sophomore #64 Ryan Roy and freshman #88 Wyatt Hendrick were able to force and recover the fumble. With an offensive line ready to roll, Hayhurst needed little encouragement to take advantage, ending another short drive with a 12-yard touchdown; and Burns managed the extra point.
Score 39-6 Warriors.
The Warriors nearly had the icing on the cake when the Wildcats, desperate for a score, went to the air and fell prey to Clayton Burns playing Corner. Burns intercepted the pass on the one-yard line and ran it back 99 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back call would bring the play back.
The Warriors would take a knee and head for home, with a sense of hope for the years to come.