By TOM BONE
BASTIAN, Va. —
The license plate on Dylan Walk’s car clearly reads Virginia. The shiny add-ons around it say something else.
The senior quarterback for the Bland County Bears is proud to display for all onlookers his loyalty to the Mountaineers of West Virginia University.
The frame around the blue-and-white license plate reads “West Virginia Mountaineers,” and a chrome-plated reproduction of the “flying WV” logo is anchored right beside it.
With a smile, he explained his status after a practice earlier this month.
“I was born in Princeton, West Virginia, but I’m from Iaeger. My parents are from Iaeger, West Virginia, so yes, I’m a big Mountaineer fan,” he said.
Walk, who will represent the small communities of Bland County and the Old Dominion during this football season, said he “definitely” gets kidded by his schoolmates for his loyalty to WVU and their still-simmering rivalry with the Hokies of Virginia Tech.
“I’m not a Hokie fan at all, not even close,” he said. “So I try to hassle everybody about it around here. I get a lotta beef for it, too.”
He said he can’t use the results of a college football game between the schools to defend his choice, “’cause we haven’t played in seven years, but hopefully when we start playing again in 2021, I’ll have something to brag about,” he said.
“I’m forever a Mountaineer fan. Forever.”
He is also a fan of this year’s Bland County football squad, which will be in action next Friday at 7 p.m. in Bastian, hosting Craig County to start the season. He has started for the Bears since his freshman year.
“Coming out here as a freshman, everything’s new to you. You’ve never experienced varsity football before. Getting thrown out here as a freshman, it was challenging, but it was a good experience.”
“Looking back on it, being a senior now, it’s just crazy how time flew by. Four years, just like that.”
Asked about his legacy as a high school player, he said, “I just want everybody to know that I came out here every year and busted my hind end for everybody out here.”
Speaking for his fellow seniors, he said, “We’re just trying to make a name for ourselves, and trying to make a name for our program, here, and trying to move up and be successful.”
He added, “I think our freshman class this year is really promising. We’ve got some good size, we’ve got some good athletes.”
As a quarterback, he owes much to his offensive line. He said his relationship with them is “really close this year. Everybody out here, I’ve played with most of these guys since I was in third grade, so all of these guys, I know them real well. I know that they’re going to bust their hind end and give it everything they’ve got.”
Last year’s 0-10 record “gave a fire (to the team) for the off-season, kind of made us want to work that much harder,” Walk said.
“Especially, we needed to hit the weight room, because I think last year we were just outmatched in every game that we played. So we hit the weight room really hard. ... In every game, you need to be, at least try to be equally matched to your opponent.”
He thinks those efforts will pay off.
After about a week of practice, he said, “So far, I think we look really promising. I think everybody out here knows what they’re doing, they know their role in the team. I think if we can put it together, we can get some wins this year.”
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