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Price is right: Led by tailback’s record-setting effort, Independence handles Herbert Hoover 42-7 for first state championship

WHEELING, W.Va. — Throughout the 2022 season, Independence followed a similar recipe for success to remain unbeaten: Production from tailback Judah Price behind a stellar offensive line and exceptional defensive play that was sometimes overshadowed by the Patriots’ ability to score in bunches.

That formula worked again Friday in the Class AA final, and as a result, Independence wrapped up an unbeaten season to secure its first state championship in football.

The second-seeded Patriots got a new Super Six record 376 rushing yards from Price combined with another strong defensive showing to race past No. 9 Herbert Hoover for a 42-7 victory at Wheeling Island Stadium.

“We’ve been saying all year he’s special,” IHS head coach John Lilly said. “A lot of people kept saying, ‘Well he’s special against chump teams.’ Well he did all this against Bluefield, Herbert Hoover and Fairmont Senior. He’s a special young man. I also have to tip my hat to an offensive line that blocked for a Kennedy Award winner last year [Atticus Goodson] and now they blocked for Judah, too. That offensive line is special, too.”

On the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Price displayed his surplus of speed and quality vision on a 94-yard rushing touchdown that also gave the state’s all-time single-season scoring leader the longest play in Super Six history.

“Hopefully there’s not a flag and score the touchdown,” Price said of his thought during the scamper that covered nearly the entire length of the field.

After the two-point attempt failed, Independence (13-0) was left with a 20-0 lead 3:34 into the second half.

That score stood until the fourth, before Price raced 12 yards for a TD on the second play of the frame. It followed his 37-yard run, and combined with Price crossing the goal line on the two-point try, enabled the Patriots to up their advantage to 28-0 with 11:24 remaining.

“Nobody’s been successful [slowing him down]. He’s a good player and the best player in Double-A,” Huskies’ head coach Joey Fields said.

Hoover (10-3) answered with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Dane Hatfield to Andrew Rollyson to prevent the Patriots from recording their seventh shutout this season, but it was too little, too late for a team that had its 10-game win streak stopped after an 0-2 start to the season.

“That’s a good football team that deserves the championship,” Fields said. “I’m happy for coach Lilly and his staff. I’m so proud of this team and community. You could see Elk River pride tonight and they fought with us until the end. I’m proud of how our team responded and fought and we had opportunities to win the game at times.”

Quarterback Trey Bowers scored his second touchdown and Independence’s fifth of the contest on a 41-yard run, before Price ran in the two-point try to make it 36-7 with 6:21 to play.

When Independence got the ball back for what proved to be its final possession, Price scored his fourth touchdown of the contest and 51st of the season on a 6-yard run that capped the scoring.

It was also during that series that Price broke Wheeling Central’s Gino Bianconi’s Super Six record of 355 rushing yards from the 2011 Class A final.

Earlier in the game, Price broke the Class AA Super Six rushing mark previously held by Bridgeport’s Dylan Tonkery, who amassed 314 yards in the 2014 title game.

“That is insane,” Price said. “People were asking me if I had any more records to break and I had no clue I was going to do anything like that. That’s crazy.”

Although Independence’s opening drive ended with a turnover on downs in the red zone, the Patriots forced a three-and-out to immediately get the ball back at the Huskies’ 35-yard line.

Five plays later, Price reached the end zone from 3 yards, and he did the same on the two-point try to give IHS an 8-0 lead at the 3:06 mark of the opening quarter.

Hatfield’s 20-yard pass to Jacob Burns allowed Hoover to convert on fourth-and-17 on its ensuing sequence, and the Huskies continued to march as they worked their way inside the Patriots’ 10.

But on second-and-goal from the 7, Price continued to show he’s more than a running back and ripped the ball from Hoover tailback Randy Hughart, while also recovering the fumble to give Independence the ball at its 5.

“We missed on some opportunities offensively and of course Judah is going to make plays on the other side of the ball as well,” Fields said.

Price’s 43-yard run and Bowers’ 27-yard pass to Cyrus Goodson keyed a 95-yard drive on the ensuing series, which ended with Bowers plunging into the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The two-point play was unsuccessful, leaving the Patriots with a 14-0 lead 5:13 before halftime.

On Hoover’s next possession, Hatfield was stopped at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots’ 36, which kept the score 14-0 at the intermission.

“Our defense has been awesome and it should be. We had nine starters back and they did a good job,” Lilly said. “They’ve been that way all year. We haven’t hardly given up touchdowns all year. They’re just hard-working, good kids.”

The IHS defense was equally dominant in both halves, allowing 70 yards over the first two quarters and 67 over the final two.

The Huskies managed only 31 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

Hatfield had a solid passing performance in defeat as he hit on 14-of-22 throws for 106 yards. 

“We know he’s a great quarterback and he’ll be back up here again. The kid is that good,” Lilly said. “But tonight was our night and the kids had a great game plan and they stuck to it. I’m really proud of them.”

Price carried 32 times in his record-setting effort, while Bowers had a strong effort as well with 15 rushes for 118 yards. Bowers also completed 6-of-10 passes for 54 yards.

“Everyone blocked for me and it’s so surreal really how well everyone did today, how we executed and how we prepared all week,” Price said.

Price and Hatfield were named Most Outstanding Player from their respective teams.

One year after falling short against Fairmont Senior in its first Super Six appearance, the Patriots produced the ending they desired to finish off an unbeaten campaign that saw them largely unchallenged in every game with the exception of a 20-12 victory in the postseason opener against Bluefield.

“It’s one thing to say you’re going to make it back and it’s another thing to make it back,” Lilly said. “We dodged those minefields with a lot of seniors staying focused that long. This is a very special bunch.”

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Postgame video recaps: Independence 42, Herbert Hoover 7 (Class AA final)

(MetroNews broadcast highlights)

WHEELING, W.Va. — Check out postgame video recaps from Independence’s 42-7 win over Herbert Hoover in the Class AA championship.

(Greg Carey and Joe Brocato break down the game) 

(Postgame “Round of Sound”) 

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Joyful Night celebration Saturday evening at state capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The annual Joyful Night celebration hosted by Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice will take place Saturday night at the state capitol.

The celebration, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will include the light of the state Christmas Tree and musical performances involving groups from across the state.

The Christmas Tree Lighting will take place at 6 p.m. This year’s tree was donated by Christmas Tree Farmer Jim Rockis from his property in Morgantown.

There will also be activities taking place inside the state capitol. Trees inside the capitol are decorated to honor Gold Star Mothers, members of the Armed Forces, and First Responders. The Red Cross will also have a table with a card for our members of the military currently in service.

Saturday night’s event will be streamed

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Man wanted in Louisiana murder shot and killed on WV Turnpike

CAMP CREEK, W.Va. — A Louisiana man wanted in connection with his girlfriend’s shooting death and abduction of the couple’s 6-month-old child in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot and killed by West Virginia State Police along the West Virginia Turnpike Friday morning.

Napoleon Crane

The Advocate newspaper reported Napoleon Crane, 29, died in a “shootout” with troopers after a traffic stop near the Camp Creek exit in Mercer County. Crane’s vehicle, which police said was stolen, had been part of a nationwide Amber Alert.

State police confirmed the officer-involved shooting Friday afternoon. A news release said state police were alerted by authorities the suspect (Crane) was in West Virginia. The car was later spotted off the Camp Creek exit.

“When troopers approached the stolen vehicle the suspect retrieved a firearm from the vehicle and fired the weapon. A trooper returned fire. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene,” the release said.

The child was in the backseat uninjured, state police said.

Crane allegedly killed Da’Ja Davis Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge. Her body was found in a parked vehicle. The death was the 95th homicide in East Baton Rouge this year, the Advocate reported.

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Winners of six straight, Marshall welcomes old rival Ohio

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The hot streak continued for Marshall’s basketball team Wednesday as the squad won for a sixth straight time, defeating Akron, 68-57.

The second half of a Mid-American Conference double dip for the Herd (6-1) comes Saturday afternoon when an old rival in the Ohio Bobcats visits the Cam Henderson Center.

The game tips off at 5 p.m. and will be shown by ESPN+.

Marshall’s win streak is close to a month in length and has featured double-digit victories in each of the six wins.

Taevion Kinsey and Andrew Taylor are the top scorers, which is hardly unexpected for two veteran leaders. What is more impressive is the work of two true freshmen — 7-foot-1 center Micah Handlogten and 6-8 forward Jacob Conner.

Handlogten was a defensive wall against Akron with six blocks, three steals and nine rebounds. Conner was equally also effective against the Zips with nine points and two steals. He made all six of his free-throw attempts.

“These players are listening and they’re tuned in,” veteran head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “They’re committed to this school, to the program and to themselves.”

The Herd’s next test comes in an Ohio squad coming off a 113-44 defeat of Cincinnati-Clermont.

The game has been announced as a “White Out” and the Herd is hoping for a crowd near or at full capacity.

Marshall and Ohio have plenty of history as past Mid-American Conference competitors.

Ohio leads the all-time series, 57-49. The squads met in Athens last season and the Bobcats won, 75-65. The last meeting in Huntington was the season before, which Marshall won.

Former Marshall assistant Jeff Boals is in his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. He has a 63-35 with the Bobcats.

The Bobcats are 4-3 and their other wins are against Cleveland State, Eastern Illinois and Alabama State. Ohio had close road losses to Belmont and Michigan, with the game against the Wolverines going into overtime. The Bobcats also dropped a game to Detroit Mercy.

Guard Miles Brown and graduate forward Dwight Wilson each average 12.3 points to lead OU. Junior guard Jaylin Hunter averages 9.9 points. Wilson is averaging 10.7 rebounds, while sophomore forward AJ Clayton chips in with 7.4 boards.

The Bobcats shoot 46.4 percent from the field, just under 36 percent from behind the 3-point arc and nearly 70 percent from the free throw line. Ohio is out-rebounding the opposition by over 8 per game.

After playing five of the first seven games at home to start the season, Marshall starts a three-game road trip after the Ohio game next Thursday at Duquesne. Contests at Robert Morris and UNC-Greensboro follow.

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Former Harrison County contractor sentenced in multistate fraud case

CLARKSBURG, W.Va.- A Harrison County contractor will spend 10 years in prison and pay more than $500,000 in restitution for wire fraud in connection with his home improvement businesses.

Bradley Glaspell, 48, of Salem, admitted to stealing more than $500,000 from more than 70 customers as the owner and operator of Over the Top Roofing, LLC, and Helping Hands Home Improvement.

“Mr. Glaspell was a shady contractor who took advantage of West Virginians who paid him up front and trusted that he would do the job,” U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said. “His dishonesty caused many to be left with unfinished projects and I’m pleased that he will spend the next ten years behind bars.”

Glaspell advertised himself as a licensed contractor on social media when in fact he was not.

Glaspell scammed customers in Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Randolph, Ritchie, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur, and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, and Washington and Fayette counties in Pennsylvania.

 

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Man who killed Capital’s KJ Taylor will spend rest of life in prison

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit says the best way to protect society from Dekotis Thomas is to remove him from society.

Tabit sentenced Thomas, 21, to life in prison without parole Friday for the April 2021 shooting death of Capital High School senior KJ Taylor.

“KJ” Taylor starred at Capital High School.

“In the interest of the protection of the public and in protecting society, in my view sir, it is best to permanently remove you from it and I’m going to sentence you to life without mercy,” Tabit told Thomas during a video hearing.

Thomas pulled up in his vehicle on the West Side of Charleston and deliberately fired several shots toward where KJ Taylor was standing and then fled the scene. Police have said that Thomas meant to shoot another person who was close by. Tabit said Friday that man was Keyshawnta St. John. St. John was killed earlier this year in a separate incident. Two defendants are scheduled to be in court Monday for that crime.

KJ’s mother–Tara Richmond–said even though Thomas may have been aiming for someone else there’s no excuse for what he did to her 18-year-old son.

“KJ might not have been the target cause KJ didn’t run the streets. I knew there was no reason for anyone ever to want to kill KJ but I will never in my life get to see KJ again,” Richmond said.
“KJ will never ever be able to give me a grandchild. Me and my husband are left on this earth alone. You took everything from us, everything, I have nothing. I have nothing.”

Joanna Tabit

Taylor’s cousin, Wayne Harris, said he looked up to KJ.

“He was a good person,” Harris said choking back tears.

Thomas gave a brief statement as part of his request for life with mercy. He said he never meant the shooting death to happen.

“I want to apologize to the family for their loss. I hate that they have to go through this. The spirit will always be with them every step of the way. I will forever keep them in my prayers. It was never my intention to hurt KJ,” Thomas said.

Tabit told Thomas his criminal history told a different story. She said he meant to kill St. John and before that was charged in the 2019 shooting death of 28-year-old Antwan Curnell of Dunbar on Interstate 77 at the northbound Westmoreland Road exit. The charge was dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement.

“I’ve seen no acceptance of responsibility whatsoever. You’ve not admitted to killing anybody, not KJ, not Antwan, and I know there’s a hand in just two but I suspect there’s more than that,” Tabit said.

The judge said in the end Thomas took a productive life from the world.

“You have robbed so many of his life and so many people of the love and joy that he brought them and would bring them had he had the opportunity to continue to live,” Tabit said.

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Manchin says on Talkline that he’ll announce next year what he’s doing in 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Friday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” that he hasn’t yet decided what he’ll do in 2024.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (File)

“I’m giving everything I got and I still have more to give. I’ve got a little bit more in the tank,” Manchin told “Talkline” Host Hoppy Kercheval.

Kercheval told Manchin he’s getting mixed messages about what Manchin will do.

“You know why you’re getting mixed messages? Because I haven’t made a decision yet,” Manchin said. “I’m looking at it every human way possible.”

Later in the interview Manchin said he would announce his decision some time in 2023.

“I’m not in a hurry, Hoppy. I don’t have to be in a hurry,” Manchin said. “The bottom line is I only care about one thing and that’s the success of my state and people having opportunities in my state.”

Manchin said those opportunities have been increasing in recent months and he predicted they will continue to increase because of the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act that he wrote. He predicted it would stabilize the energy market in West Virginia and open the door for additional investments.

He said the current success is unlike any other time in the state’s history.

“I think we’re providing that more now that I’ve ever seen in the things that are coming to West Virginia right now–and it’s because of what we’re doing to stimulate here in Washington and it’s because of the bills we passed,” Manchin said.

Manchin bristled when asked he was being pressured by party leaders to run again in 2024

“I know that it’s hard to believe but I don’t take pressure from any of these people. I don’t trust either one of these parties. The party systems we have today, the Washington Democrats and the Washington Republicans, trust me, the first and foremost thought is not about their constituents or the American people or their country, it’s about their party and their status in their party and that makes me sick,” Manchin said. “I’m sick and tired of it. So the bottom line is I’m going to do what’s the best for my country and the best for my state.”

West Virginia Second District Congressman Alex Mooney has already announced he’s running for Senate in 2024 while fellow Republican, Gov. Jim Justice, has said he’s seriously considering a run. Manchin said it’s going to be interesting to watch the Republicans.

“They ran him (Mooney) out of Maryland and they ought to put him back in Maryland and I hope the West Virginia Republican Party will be able to do that,” Manchin said. “It’s getting interesting. You have Gov. Justice who is looking at that very hard and he’s a tremendous candidate and there may be others. It’s going to be an interesting time.”

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Friday blaze destroys 4 apartments in Boone County

BLOOMINGROSE, W.Va. — Several apartments were destroyed in a Friday morning fire in Boone County.

The blaze was reported at just after 7 a.m. in one of units at an apartment complex in the 800 block of Toneys Branch Road near Bloomingrose.

Four apartments were destroyed in the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters from Racine, Danville and Whitesville were on the scene.

There was no early word on what started the fire.

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Coal train derailment blocks U.S. Route 52 in Wyoming County

HANOVER, W.Va. — Cleanup of a coal train derailment in Wyoming County could stretch into early Saturday morning.

Approximately five coal cars from a Norfolk Southern train jumped the tracks at just after 3:30 a.m. along U.S. Route 52 at Hanover. There were no injuries.

Wyoming County Office of Emergency Services Director Tim Ellison said the derailment created a big mess including the spilling of coal.

“A lot of it is off of Route 52 and not in the road itself. Basically, what we have in the road is some of the coal cars and vehicles,” Ellison said.

Five parked vehicles belonging to Hanover Wrecker Service were crushed by the derailed cars. Ellison said the derailment made quite a noise.

“One home directly across from the derailment and they said they heard the noise and hit the floor. They came out of bed and hit the floor. They didn’t what had happened,” Ellison said.

DOH District 10 Engineer Ryland Musick said Norfolk Southern cleanup crews were scheduled to arrive by 2 p.m. with heavy equipment to begin the cleanup.

“Our responsibility is to keep traffic moving away from the site and to work with the local fire department and other agencies until the issue is resolved,” Musick said.

The Hanover Volunteer Fire Department is in charge of the wreck site, the DOH said.

Musick said the highway may not reopen until early Saturday morning. Traffic is being detoured onto WV 10, to WV 80, and back to US 52

No word on what caused the derailment. There is a slight curve in the tracks near where the cars left the track.

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