Local youth football players help lead team to victory

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS—The 2018 football season ended a few weeks ago for the Grafton Bearcubs, but a few of the Cubs were selected to continue their football season for the North Central Panthers. The Panthers are an all-star football team made up of kids from Clarksburg, Morgantown, Buckhannon, South Harrison and Grafton.

This year, four Bearcubs were asked to play with the Panthers as they traveled to the Greenbrier to complete in the WV Showdown.

Kaden Keener and Riley Humphries were selected for the second consecutive year, while teammates Josh McIe and Cameron Poling played their first contest with the Panthers.

Grafton Youth Football Coach Hartsel Keener was also asked to coach for the Panthers. This was the second year that Coach Keener received that honor.

On the offensive side of the ball McIe and Poling held down the line for the Panthers, while Humphries played tight end. Keener was the quarterback for the Panthers this season.

“Josh, Cameron and Riley played a solid four games,” said Coach Keener. “Upfront, they opened up holes continuously that allowed our running backs to score all weekend and protected our quarterback. Kaden controlled the offensive side of the football the entire tournament,” added Keener.

Kaden ended the weekend with five touchdowns and three extra point conversions.

“I am extremely proud of how each of our boys played and represented Grafton. They were a huge part of the success for the North Central Panthers. We set a goal the first day of practice to bring home a trophy. We did that and more,” said Keener.

McIe, Keener and Humphries also played on the defensive side of the ball. McIe and Humphries were defensive linemen and both boys had two sacks a piece for the weekend.

Keener played inside linebacker and along with Humphries had multiple tackles in all four games. The North Central Panthers defense managed to play four games and hold all their opponents scoreless.

In fact, the Panthers outscored their opponents 68-0 in four games, beating the Cumberland Terps (8-0), Bridgeport (16-0), Huntington Tigers (28-0) and claiming the title by beating the Cumberland Terps (18-0) again in the championship game.

“To say you held your opponents scoreless in 16 quarters of football is an outstanding accomplishment. The tournament is fast paced. Sunday, we played three games. With the level of competition that takes part in this football tournament, you must play your very best every single play of each game and these four athletes along with their teammates did just that. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. I am excited to see the future of these boys.”

The north central panthers will play in the WV Ice Bowl January 4-5 at the Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar, WV.

© 2019-Mountain Statesman

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