Photo courtesy of the Dominion Post

By Andrew Spellman

The Dominion Post, Morgantown

MORGANTOWN – When offered the job at Morgantown High last winter, veteran coach Sean Biser wanted to make sure his son Caden was OK if he accepted the job. Caden was about to enter his senior year at Keyser, the school he established himself at, so a move to Morgantown could easily hurt him. 

Maybe a surprise to Sean, Caden accepted the proposition and excitedly followed his father to Morgantown. He may not have known exactly what was to come, especially with COVID-19 ravaging the country, but he soon realized MHS was a good fit as he credits his coaches and team as a significant reason why he is the 2020 Howley Award winner, given to the best linebacker in the state, voted on by the West Virginia Sport Writers Association.

In his senior season, Biser led the team with 51 total tackles (17 solo, 34 assist) with six going for a loss. He also accounted for one quarterback hurry, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one recovery in six games.

“I feel honored, and it’s taken a lot from the coaching staff, my teammates and my family and I’ve put a lot of work in,” Biser said. “As a whole, as a team, we came to make each other better and that’s what helped me get this accomplishment.”

Adversity struck early for the Mohigans. Implementing a new offensive system, losing rising-star quarterback Gunner Lattimore and a spike in COVID-19 cases forcing Monongalia County to go dark for the first four weeks of the football season put the team in a tough spot. Opening up its season against two of the best teams in the state didn’t help, but Biser was there to lead his team – albeit silently and by example – to awaken in Game 3 against Parkersburg South.

The Mohigans (3-3) moved on finish the season 2-1 – defeating Linsly and rival University, and losing to Bridgeport – and establish Sean’s Wing-T offense. Through all of this, Biser’s mental toughness was at the forefront. 

“My dad has coached us and told us, ‘Control what you can control,’ ” Biser said. “There’s adversity in life and you have to keep driving and keep that engine going. You’re going to face troubles and you have to keep moving.” 

He also had to be physically ready to go whenever the metrics allowed Mon County teams to play again. Luckily, his dad, coaches and teammates were there to help guide him through that as well. Still, it came down to Biser whether he would let the adversity get the better of him. Instead of giving into it like some athletes, Biser rose above and, in turn, pushed his teammates to do the same.

“[It was] just the want to [be physically ready], wanting to win, to have as high a standard as possible,” he said. “I just wanted it that bad. Every day in practice, we tried to push ourselves to get better and get ready for Friday night.” 

To instill that mindset, Biser had to lead in some capacity – he was the only player on the team that knew his dad’s playbook in and out – but he’s not the stereotypical “coach’s son” you see in some programs. So how exactly did he do it? According to him, he knew his teammates “had it in them” to learn the book, so he took a mostly hands-off approach, rallying the team around a positive work ethic despite any and all adversity. 

“They are athletes by heart,” Biser said. “They knew what it took. Those first two games gave us a realization that we’ve got this, so we came together as a team and that’s what clicked [for the rest of the season].” 

Now, looking at playing in college, Biser has some time to decide what’s next. From playing for the Golden Tornado and establishing himself as a defensive threat, to finishing out his high school career with a brand new team, in a brand new town, during a downright crazy year, Biser has the chance to stay in Morgantown for four more years, garnering a preferred walk-on offer from WVU.

Yet, it hasn’t been a cakewalk, he’s had to earn his spot on both sides of the ball, whether talking handoffs on offense or eating up running backs and quarterbacks at middle and outside linebacker. 

At the end of the day, with the chance to take the Biser name back to the Old Gold and Blue, he couldn’t be happier with his young career.

“[My game] has developed really well. The experience helped in getting the technique down, just that muscle memory over the years, has made me into the player I am today,” he said. “It’s an honor [to be offered from WVU]. You know, just following your dad and filling those shoes from years ago, it’s really cool and an honor to get that opportunity.” 

And what does he hope he left with the younger classes of MHS football players?

“Just be relentless. Learn to not stop, to want to be on top and strive to be there,” he said. “Nothing’s handed to you. You have to work for it.”