Picture, Westside’s Lauren Thomas, left, and Makayla Morgan, greet one another before the Lady Renegdes’ state tournament game against Winfield on Wednesday, March 11 in Charleston.

By Dave Morrison

A thoughtful and insightful look back at career highlights and the Covid-19 pandemic by senior athletes from around the region.

Today we hear from Wyoming East’s Seth Ross, Woodrow Wilson’s Liz Cadle, Westside’s Makayla Morgan and Lauren Thomas and Midland Trail’s Curtis Dixon, who also attended Valley before it shut down. 

WIth this series we want to give the seniors an opportunity to look back in their own words. 

They might not get to finish their senior year but are proving to be winners nonetheless:

Seth Ross was a record-setting quarterback at Wyoming East, and helped the Warriors to their first postseason berth since 2012. Twice in his career he had game-winning touchdown passes to fellow senior Jake Bishop (Oak Hill in 2019, Westside in 2017). Wyoming East went 8-3, and Ross also cited one of those losses as a highlight.

“The Oak Hill game was also a great memory, I had been struggling out the gate my senior year, but we were winning so I didn’t weigh on it too much. Our defense won us the game before, Nicholas County, so we had to give them one back. We underestimated them, they hadn’t won a game all year, and we just came off a huge win. It was a back and forth game and seemed to go on for 10 hours. That last play was just special man. And I get WAY to much credit, Jacob made that play, anyone who knows football knows that. All I did was put it in an area, Jacob made the heroic play. Props to him.

“And then Westside my Sophomore year, one of the very slim good things to come out of that year, we weren’t even suppose to be in that game. They had a playoff-caliber team, and we were struggling, losing by 20 our first game. Huge crowd, I was super super nervous, we threw the ball somewhere around 30 times that night, and I had a heck of receiving crew, and our defense was playing lights out. We could have sealed the game but a fumbled late seemed to kiss it all away. Jake Cannady made a great play to get us the ball back, and again, I just put it in a spot and Jacob made a great play, another one I get way to much credit for. Jacob was different.

“(Shady Spring) was a huge game for us, homecoming, we were undefeated, they had lost one game, just a huge game. We ended up losing by 7  (27-20) but that atmosphere wasn’t matched all year. One of the best memories was from that loss. It taught us a lot that season, and we eventually bounced back.

“We are living in wild times indeed, I’m just so glad we already played my senior year, couldn’t imagine not been able to play. I feel so bad for everyone who couldn’t play their senior year, it’s awful. But this is bigger then sports, people are losing their lives. That comes before absolute anything. The country is coming together is some ways, which is awesome to see. It will go away soon hopefully, and I just hope everyone stays safe.”

Woodrow Wilson’s Liz Cadle was a leader on the Lady Flying Eagles team that beat Morgantown in the first round of the state tournament. That’s where the season was halted. Cadle and the Lady Eagles had beaten Greenbrier East in the sectional championship, after a game in the regular involved a skirmish that garnered national intention for comments made by East coach at Gov. Jim Justice.

“My most memorable highlights were probably this year against Greenbrier East. I can’t really put it into a highlight but I will describe the feelings I had. Going into the game we all had a chip on our shoulder, we knew what we had to go in there and do. In the game I never once looked at the scoreboard I just knew whatever was happening that we had to keep playing and doing all the things our coach threw out there to us. Going into the third I saw we were up nine, and from that point on we just took it upon ourself to have fun and at the same time do what we were capable of. That was the breaking point for us in my opinion after that game the two games that followed were just fun for me and my team. We were having fun winning. With a attitude that was indescribable. That and the whole entire season this year will be something I will never forget it didn’t end how we wanted it but in our hearts we knew what we were about to do.“

Makayla Morgan was a four-year starter Westside, the all-time assist leader at the school and this season helped the Lady Renegades reach the state tournament. 

“A few of my favorite memories would be my freshman year sectional championship game, my regional game my junior year, and senior year the two games before states and experiencing States with my teammates and coaches my last game in a Renegade uniform. 

I feel like this virus has took so much away from our seniors, not just athletes but all of us. Our lasts were something we looked forward to experiencing together, If that’s prom, sports, senior skip day, graduation, etc. I was grateful and very blessed I got to finish out my last basketball season. My heart breaks for the athletes that don’t get to experience their last season in any spring sports.”

Westside’s Lauren Thomas  watched her sister be part of a state championship team and this season helped the Lady Renegades team advance to the state tournament.

“Some of the  highlights from my senior year were that we started off the season with a 6-0 record, we battled through injuries and sickness throughout the season to eventually win against Wyoming East in the sectional championship and then beat Bluefield in the regional championship. Finally playing at the state tournament was just a dream that we had hoped for since we were freshman.

“Even though we played our game and lost, I still feel awful that teams who had advanced to round 2, especially the seniors, were not able to complete their tournament play due to the coronavirus. I also feel for the boys’ teams that didn’t get to begin their chance at State and all of the spring sports who did not get to play at all. Seniors did not get the ending they had hope for in their final season in high school.”

Curtis Dixon started his career at Valley and when that school closed for another round of Fayette County consolidation he transferred to Midland Trail. Both schools made his career highlights.

“I think for me the career highlight would be when I played at Valley and scored one of the last touchdowns in Valley High history and then from this year, just being able to be a part of a playoff team personally.

“I think it’s hard for everyone especially seniors who could still have a chance of getting scholarships through academics or sports or just being able to see their friends.”