Everyone remembers the 1999 Wyoming East team that went 14-0 and won the Class AA state title in its second year of existence.
I certainly do.
That year people were predicting a potential postseason position possible for the Warriors, just as they did early in the year last fall.
There were colorful characters around that 1999 team, many intriguing stories, I decided to take a look back at the playoff appearances for both Wyoming East and Westside.
I can’t remember a better Class AA team than that Warriors bunch. Maybe an East Bank championship squad. Maybe a Bluefield team, they’ve had that Wheeling feeling so often in the last 25 years.
I’ve often said, and I stand by it, that the 1999 James Monroe team that lost to Wyoming East in a 2-3 matchup (Bluefield was the No. 1 team that year) at Beckley, was the second-best AA team I saw. Wyoming East was first.
Wyoming East won that game 31-24, which would be the closest anyone would come to the Warriors.
It was a classic, won when Robert Gunter scored on a quarterback bootleg. Nobody saw it coming as he raced toward the pylon and infamy. Why would they expect it. Gunter had the services of three 1,000 yard rushers in Tank Tunstalle, Michael Hill and Justin Grogg.
James Monroe had fought back to get back in the game by using all-state running back Ben Thornton as a wildcat QB before there was a wildcat quarterback.
The next week, led by a defense anchored by the late Ashley McNeely, one of truest characters I covered in my career, Wyoming East torched No. 1 Bluefield 57-21.
Wyoming East outscored playoff opponents 204-70. That’s right, 204-70.
Another quick one from those playoffs. Sherman and Wyoming East had an altercation – rather the Sherman band and Wyoming East had an altercation – in their regular season matchup.
During the Warriors playoff opener, a 40-13 win over South Harrison, some Sherman players, who had made the playoffs and won their opener 47-20 on a Friday night over Chapmanville, were at the game Saturday in Beckley.
The group stood by the fence as Wyoming East came off the field and were explicit in what they were going to do to the Warriors the next week.
Coach Kevin Grogg made know bones about what he intended to do. He was a man of his word, as Wyoming East opened it up, scoring on 11 straight offensive possessions in a 76-12 victory. It wasn’t that close.
The next season Wyoming East actually won its first six playoff games in school history before what still may be the toughest loss they’ve endured, falling in the Class AA semifinals to Wayne 14-13 in double overtime.
Many point to a 15-11 victory over Magnolia the week before but the Warriors actually won their first round game in 2001, a 6-0 verdict over Independence.
Ironically, Grogg now coaches against East as an assistant at Independence.
That win was the last playoff win by the Warriors, who now have a 7-9 all-time record and they have lost eight straight.
Consider this. In those eight playoff losses Wyoming East has scored 70 points, the 13 in a 55-13 loss to Oak Glen allowing them to barely go above the total the Warriors scored in the state championship victory over Bluefield 20 years ago.
In its 21 season the Warriors have made the playoffs in 10 seasons and have not gone more than four years between appearances, something they have done twice (2002-2005 and 2015-2018).
Last seasons playoff appearance kept that intact.
Westside also made its first playoff appearance in its second year, 2003, and they went 2-1, beating Liberty 28-0 and Wayne 24-16 before falling to Bluefield 35-8.
One of the better players to suit up in the county not named Curt Warner, Justin Cogar, led the Renegades back to the semifinals in 2014.
Cogar was a guy who could do it all as a quarterback, throwing for 2,000 yards and nearly rushing for 2,000 yards that season. You just don’t see many numbers like that by a player who doesn’t win the Kennedy Award. And had he not been injured for most of the prior year he well could have won the award as the state’s top player.
The knock on Cogar was his team’s weak schedule.
Yet, nobody else was doing that to those same teams.
They faced offensive juggernaut in Weir in round one of the playoffs and a lot of pundits thought the Red Riders would come to the Burial Ground and knock off Westside.
And Cogar was the star, putting up 595 total yards (403 passing, with three and 193 rushing, with five scores. That’s right, he was responsible for eight touchdowns.
The next week, many thought Ravenswood would derail the Renegades and their standout quarterback. Credit the Red Devils. They held Cogar under 400 yards passing (359) and under 193 rushing (126). Leading 20-19 at the half, Cogar led the Renegades to three second half TD, including one on fourth and goal where it looked like he was stopped on a run, but he backed up and with a We’re player hanging on to him, he fired to Bryce Robinson for a touchdown.
Robinson had two interceptions in that game as well.
The Westside train was finally derailed by Frankfort the next week.
The Renegades own four playoff wins courtesy of these two semifinal runs.
All-time Westside is 4-6, with six playoff seasons in its 17 seasons.
The Warriors and Renegades have both made the playoffs the same season once, 2014.
Since Westside opened in 2002, either the Warriors or Renegades have been in the playoffs have been in the playoffs all but seven seasons. Neither made it in 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2016-2018.