Jefferson County high schools’ fall sports season officially came to an end on Saturday when Bridgeport defeated the Washington Patriots 55-7, in the opening round of the WVSSAC Class AAA football playoffs at Bridgeport.
The loss to the fifth-seeded Indians also marks the final high school athletic event in the county for 2020.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, in an executive order issued on Friday, officially shut down all high school sports across the Mountain State until Jan. 11, 2021.
The move comes as COVID-19 cases around the country have been on the rise once again. The number of counties with a green status on the COVID-19 map is getting smaller each day.
Only 16 of 55 counties remain green, according to the updated West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services’ school re-entry metrics map as of last Saturday. Jefferson, Hardy and Mineral Counties are the Eastern Panhandle schools in orange on the map.
Bill Stewart, athletic director at Jefferson, said he expects the WVSSAC to provide more information in the future regarding winter sports across the state.
Berkeley and Morgan Counties have been upgraded to gold status on the map. Hampshire County is yellow.
“As of right now, we are shut down,” Jefferson boys basketball coach Richard Lewis said. “Unless something changes, we can’t even start practice until Jan. 11.”
Any winter workouts, which may have already begun, must now cease. Lewis had been hoping the Cougars could perhaps start some preseason workouts.
Instead, things have returned to a wait-and-see situation.
“We plan on having some Zoom meetings with the players,” he said. “We want to stay in touch during this time.”
Washington boys basketball coach Trent Hilliard said the delay came right at the last second.
“Am I disappointed we can’t get started?...yes,” Washington boys basketball coach Trent Hilliard said. “We were supposed to start practice on Monday. Instead, we got the word last Friday we couldn’t get going.”
Once schools get the green light to resume, Hilliard said it would take about a week to 10 days before the team would be ready to play its first game. In the meantime, He’s encouraging his players to try and work out on their own.
“I get it,” Hilliard said of the state’s decision to delay the start of the winter season. “At the end of the day, it’s all about doing the right thing, keeping everyone safe.”
While moving forward with fall sports ended up being a week-to-week, event-to-event gamble, the fact Jefferson County was able to play most, if not all, of its fall schedule, came as a relief to coaches.
Heather Andrew, Jefferson’s girls’ soccer coach, said she’s glad the Cougars were able to get in a fairly-complete season. Jefferson advanced as far as the state Class AAA semifinals before losing to Parkersburg South.
“Thankfully, it (COVID-19 delays, postponements) didn’t affect our season much,” Andrew said. “If it would continue on, then it would be much more stressful than what it was watching the numbers/color map.”
The start of fall sports in Jefferson County was also delayed, Andrew said. “Hopefully, things decline so the winter sports can play,” she said.
Another coach happy his team was able to complete its season was Washington football coach Glen Simpson.
The Patriots spent the entire pre-season and regular season keeping fingers and toes crossed, hoping there would not be any kind of shutdown. Washington did have to adjust its schedule a few times to get all of its games in, but it finished 5-5.
“That was our mindset from the beginning, when they allowed us to work out in the summer,” Simpson said. “We watched the map and hoped we could keep going. The map held for us, it was a blessing.”
Against Bridgeport on Saturday, there was little the Patriots could do against a sixth-ranked Indians team.
“They demonstrated why they’re one of the top teams in the state in AAA,” Simpson said. “They were physical, quick and used a lot of misdirection in what they did. It’s difficult to defend that.”
Washington’s lone touchdown on Saturday came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Frankie Amore to Jimmy Williams.
The Patriots were held to 145 yards in total offense. Bryson Fleming rushed for 44 yards on nine carries for Washington. His longest run was 14 yards.
Amore rushed for 29 yards on 12 carries, his longest run being a 19-yarder. Amore completed two of seven passes for 20 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.