Four area players on Class AA all-state football team

BRIDGEPORT – Last year now seems like a lifetime ago for Anthony Bonamico.

After an ankle injury wiped out virtually all of his junior season, there were some questions as to how effective Bonamico would be in 2013 as Bridgeport’s featured running back in an offense that was being tweaked from the school’s traditional stick-I to a power pistol formation.

The new look resulted in a school record for points scored, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and paved the way to a Class AA state championship for the Indians.

Bonamico was at the forefront with 2,180 rushing yards on 205 attempts (an average of 10.6 per carry) and 33 total touchdowns.

On Wednesday, he was named the Class AA first-team all-state offensive captain by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season,” Bonamico said. “To come back from that injury and for us to win the title with the group of guys I had as teammates. The individual honors are great but what we accomplished with a collective effort as a team is what matters most.”

Two of his teammates joined him as first-team honorees in Tyler Morgan as an offensive lineman and A.C. Caldera as a defensive back. Caldera, who ran for 1,188 yards and 21 touchdowns – including both in the 14-13 AA title game victory – was considered even more important on the other side of the ball by his coaching staff, where he had 36 tackles and five interceptions to help lead a Bridgeport defense that allowed just 11.6 points per game this season. Morgan was also a huge part of the defense as the team’s leading tackler from his middle linebacker spot.

“I think everybody knew Tyler and A.C. were both capable of having great seasons but they both stepped up even more than we could have imagined,” Bonamico said.

“They both had great seasons on both sides of the ball.”

Wayne, which extended its overall win streak to 36 consecutive games before falling to Bridgeport in one of the most memorable state title games Wheeling Island Stadium has seen, had four players earn first-team honors in offensive lineman Alex Elkins, defensive lineman Curtis Followay, linebacker Mason Hodge, who was named the first-team defensive captain, and defensive back Grant Ferguson.

This year’s all-state team also comes with a little bit of history. Lincoln’s Emily Knight is the first female player ever in West Virginia to earn first-team honors. Knight was selected as the first-team kicker after leading Class AA through the regular season in made field goals with six.

She also converted 32 PATs and handled kickoff duties for the Cougars.

“Since I was a sophomore and started playing football, my teammates, the coaches and the community have been supportive of me and didn’t single me out for being a girl,” Knight said. “For people throughout the whole state to treat me equal is an unbelievable feeling. I’m so thankful and grateful for this honor.”

Joining Bonamico as first-team running backs are Westside’s Mike Mullens (1,654 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Bluefield’s D.J. Stewart (1,312 yds, 23 TDs).

Fairmont Senior’s Austin Norman completed 113-of-190 passes for 2,119 yards with 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions to be named as the first-team quarterback.

The first-team wide receivers are Lincoln’s Dillon O’Dell (52 receptions, 1,234 yds, 8 TDs) and Bluefield’s D.J. Edwards (57 rec., 1,010 yds and 10 TDs).

Joining Morgan and Elkins on the offensive line are Robert C. Byrd’s Justin Noble, Ravenswood’s Kyle Hickman and Mingo Central’s Zach Hott.

Ritchie County dual-threat QB Alex Lipscomb was selected as the offensive utility player after throwing for 1,606 yards with 20 touchdowns and running for 1,161 yards with 10 rushing TDs.

Along with Follaway, Nicholas County’s Austin Hill and Fairmont Senior’s Vince Delligatti were selected as defensive linemen.

Delligatti’s teammate Luke Hrapchak is a linebacker along with Hodge, Roane County’s Luke Scott and Summers County’s Erik Lindsey.

Philip Barbour’s Al Johnson (five interceptions with four defensive/special teams scores among his 14 total TDs) joins Caldera and Ferguson at defensive back along with Wyoming East’s Casey Saunders.

Ravenswood’s Isaac Crow was picked as the punter, while Sissonville’s Nathan Miller nabbed the defensive utility spot.

Frankfort’s Brady Watson and Mingo Central’s Alex Lee were named the second-team captains on offense and defense, respectively.

Bridgeport and Wayne each had three second-team selections. For the Indians, Hunter Renquest was picked as an offensive lineman, Brandon Hartz as a defensive lineman and Dante Bonamico as a linebacker.

All three of the Pioneers’ second-team choices were on defense in lineman J.C. Maynard, linebacker Nathan Spurlock and defensive back Cody Stiltner.

Watson was joined at second-team running back by Sissonville’s Dominic Walker and Herbert Hoover’s Shaun Dotson.

Lincoln’s Jarrod Kellar is the second-team quarterback. The receivers are Webster County’s Dalton Davis and Fairmont Senior’s Neil Scherich.

In addition to Renquest, second-team offensive linemen are Wyoming East’s Ryan Cantrell, Keyser’s Drew Roy, Fairmont Senior’s Andrew Summers and Ritchie County’s Ryan Parsons.

Summers County’s Isaiah Brown was chosen as the second-team offensive utility player and Bluefield’s Francisco Desiderio was picked as the second-team kicker.

Robert C. Byrd sophomore Juwan Jones-Wright was picked as a second-team defensive lineman along with Hartz and Maynard.

The two linebackers joining Bonamico and Spurlock on second team are Nicholas County’s Wil Mayes and Bluefield’s Cory Coppola.

Rounding at the defensive backs with Stiltner and Lee are Philip Babour’s Dylan Johnson and Chapmanville’s Brady Cox.

The second-team punter is Lincoln’s Ty Seibel, while Ravenswood’s Rhys Jelich was named the second-team defensive utility player.